Thursday, September 13, 2012

The working life: No cuts no butts no coconuts


What do you guys think is the right thing here? I was standing in line at the cafe by my office, waiting to get coffee, as this getting up at 6 a.m. is just not working for me. I had switched to decaf last summer, but now, the siren song of caffeine is luring me back into my old bad habits.

The line was slow because it was lunchtime and most people were ordering lunch. I watched the counter people as I calculated how long it would take for me to get to the order taker. It was going to be at least two minutes. Did I have two minutes to spare? Didn't I have Important Meetings? Things to Do? But how would I do them without caffeine? Why weren't these people working faster?

The line moved right past the cash register where the coffee person usually stands. But there was nobody there. Nobody at the coffee cash register because all hands were at the food stations. Which if I were running the place would be how I would do it, as well. If 20 of the 21 people in line are ordering food and only one is ordering coffee, you make the one wait a little longer rather than having 25% of your staff standing at the coffee cash register, looking at their fingernail and being bored.

A woman I know from work walked in. She walked up to me. Rats. I had to remove my earbuds and stop listening to the radio. I was not in a social mood. But. She is someone with power and I respect that. I am trying not to repeat the mistakes of my past, where I thought that only the work I produced mattered and not the relationships with the people who could do things.

We greeted each other. I said something about being there just for coffee. "You shouldn't have to stand in the food line," she said. "There should be someone at the coffee station."

I shrugged. I wasn't going to tell the cafe how to run its business, as much as I would enjoy that. I would even do it for free, as I think my opinion is so valuable that the world would be a better place if everyone would just do things my way. Eventually, riches would be bestowed upon me. I could wait.

Even though there were people behind me, she stood next to me. I wondered if she was trying to cut in line. I wondered how to tell her she couldn't cut in with me. Milwaukee is not Miami. Bless Miami's heart. Cutting line is not something people here do.

I moved forward.

She stayed.

She did not go to the back of the line.

I wondered what she was doing but decided it was none of my business. Which is unusual, because I think everything is my business. I am learning prudence in my middle age, I hope.

She stepped forward to the coffee counter. Stood there. One of the food people looked over. "Do you need something?" he asked.

"Coffee," she said.

My jaw dropped.

She had gotten to cut the line. Legitimately.

But.

I HAD BEEN WAITING LONGER!

And she knew I had been waiting!

Reader, what do you think? Should she have said, "I want coffee and so does that lady there, who has been waiting longer than I have?"

Or did she, by virtue of demanding service, deserve to be served before me?

9 comments:

Jen on the Edge said...

At the very least, she should have ensured that you got coffee first.

deb said...

Agree with Jen. Or...at least along with hers.

Kimberlee Stiens said...

I think if I were working there, I would have told her that the coffee counter is closed and she needed to join the other line. It's tough, because while the customer is always right (shiver) and you don't want to piss them off, you also don't want to piss off the other people she just cut.

Even if this co-worker had waved at me and said "she also just needs coffee" I would have stayed in the proper line. What she did seems so pompous... the idea that her time is more valuable than that of the other people in line. It was definitely the responsibility of the employees to shut that shit down.

Rubiatonta said...

As a former New Yorker, my feeling is, "You don't ask, you don't get." She wasn't cutting in front of people who wanted lunch, because she wasn't after lunch.

But she should have said that you wanted coffee, too. Would have given you an opportunity to be eternally grateful, which Powerful People like in their underlings, you know.

G in Berlin said...

I absolutely think she was right. She could have included you, but you were next anyway, I assume, and she didn't rely on the service person not confusing your orders and ringing them together. And she taught you a valuable lesson.
Btw, as a former fast restaurant owner, no, you serve the coffee (in my case, smoothie) line when someone stands there, not expect them to stand in the food line during rush hour. That would be insane. Otoh, if someone stands in the coffee line and tries to add "real food"- that's a no-no.

Class factotum said...

Wow! Interesting mix of opinions here. I have solved the problem by going to Subway in the morning.

Marsha said...

She should not have been served. She cut in line. She should have been asked to go to the back of the line and wait along with everyone else, instead of hitchiking on your time served. Shame on her. Subway is a fine answer to this problem. (P.S. Do not trust her in any way - forewarned is forearmed.)

John0 Juanderlust said...

That's why she has power. She had sense enough to go to the coffee counter, probably prepared to either get coffee or be told to wait in the lunch line, which would be stupid.
When all you want is coffee, it is not cutting in line really. Some people get so tangled in rules that their dogma comes back to bite them.

John0 Juanderlust said...

Another impression--not knowing how her position at work connects with yours--is that her move was one which was to reinforce some sort of pecking order, should alert you that she sees you as potential threat, and should let you know that she may act like a pal but watch your back. the end