The Hundred Dollar Bill Guy.

Here at this blog, I don’t really talk about my Day Job very much A good portion of this is just because, when the world is as connected as it is these days, I’d hate for some rant or complaint I might have find its ways into some awful HR debacle over being inappropriate or a poor representative of the company. And this is a damn shame, because, in the grand tradition of English majors the world over, my Day Job is a barista at a coffee shop. I have been a barista in many coffee shops, this one located in a grocery store, and that’s a damn shame, because, lordy, let me tell you, if I started chronicalling my adventures in barista-ing, I’d never be lacking in idea for blog posts.

I got to thinking, though, after a particularly roller-coastery type of day yesterday, that there’s a lot of benefit that could be taken from these experiences that need to be passed along to others. Not often, but, every once in a while, I can’t help myself. Besdies, there are very important lessons for everyone in these pathetic little experiences.

Today’s lesson: Don’t be the guy with the hundred dollar bill.

A hundred dollar bill has a lot of good uses. It’s all very good legal tender. But a hundred dollar bill in a coffee shop is a wee bit ridiculous. Not everyone has a credit or debit card, it’s true, but this phenomenon of a hundred dollar bill in a coffee shop tends to blow my mind, especially with people who know they’re coming to the coffee shop. For a cup of coffee. That costs less than two dollars. REALLY? You couldn’t scrounge up two bucks in change? Don’t have two bucks in your debit account? Couldn’t swing by the bank to break that down? Who just walks around with only hundred dollar bills in their wallet and can I please have their lives?

This particular customer was took the proverbial cake, though. Due to several factors, the coffee bar is severely understaffed, though the staff it does have is pretty phenomenal and can handle their own, so it’s not uncommon for a barista to be by herself for a good portion of a “slower” weekday. Unfortunately, no matter what day it is, there’s always at least one mega-crazy lunch where everyone seems to want coffee at the same time, including fellow employees and it’s a madhouse. My very first job was a good ol’ MickeyD’s, so I’ve always been very oriented on quick and speedy service, so I go into hyper-drive mode of just getting people their coffee and getting them out the door. So I’m in the middle of a mindless rush, pushing out coffees like they’re about to explode in five seconds, when this guy orders a dirty chai, after a little bit of chit-chat about how the dirty chai got its name (I have to admit, I’m not entirely sure, I don’t think any particular coffee branch has claim to it, it’s just one of those commonly known terms in the barista world, I guess). No big deal, right? Usually, it only comes with one shot of espresso, but our machine makes two at a time, so I’ll offer the second shot for free. “Want an extra shot in there today?” “Sure, sounds good.”

Pretty good so far, right? I have a line of maybe five people waiting for me to finish this drink, so I’m thinking, “Gotta get this done, onto the next, gotta go, gotta go, gotta go,” when he says, “Hey, how about a third shot?”

A third shot means pulling another head. It’s no longer just me throwing an extra in because it’s going to be wasted anyway. So I tell him, “Well, I can do the second shot free, but it’s going to be an extra buck for the third,” all the while thinking, “are you kidding me?” He’s already on the other side of the counter, the pick-up side, pulling out his wallet, when the register is a good ten feet away. With a bunch of people in front of it.

In retrospect, I should have just fast forwarded and been, “Sure, whatever, I’m too busy for this right now, here’s a free third shot as well,” but I was going to stick to the rules as best I could so people don’t take advantage of me during a stressful time. So I go over to ring him up for the extra shot, that I told him was just a dollar, and guess what he pulls out of his wallet?

A hundred dollar bill.

He paid for the first transaction with a card, so there’s no reason he couldn’t have paid that way again. I was two seconds away from saying, “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?” but I compose myself enough that all I squeak out is a devestated, “You don’t have anything smaller?” My mind is whirling with thoughts. I don’t have time for this. I still have to finish his drink. There’s even more peope in the line now, and now he wants me to change out a hundred dollar bill for a ONE DOLLAR TRANSACTION. So I just tell myself, “Not worth it!” and blurt out, “Actually, you know what, never mind, it’s on the house today, don’t even worry about it.”

You can imagine that, in my head, this statement was said with many explatives peppered throughout. He argues with me, insisting that he pays, while I insist that he doesn’t, because, quite frankly, fuck that. So I pull the third shot. And offer him the fourh since I have that one anyway.

So, please, don’t be the guy with the hundred dollar bill. Small bills at a coffee shop should be required tender. Yeah, sure, okay, he got three extra shots of espresso for free, but he put me in a really sour mood for about an hour after that, and he will forever be imprinted in my head as, “UGh, THAT guy.”

(It struck me after the fact that it was possible that he was trying to pull a scam, too, trying to use my chaotic situation to confuse me further and somehow do one of those change switch-er-roos I’m always reading about, which just makes me wonder if I’m just finally starting to get cynical or if I’m really that naive).

Although, if you have to be the guy with the hundred dollar bill, feel free to put that change right in my tip cup.

P.S. Finally did a non-RoW80 post!

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