Since I go to the same Starbucks pretty much every weekday, I kinda know everyone working there (except a new guy I don’t like very much: I hope he leaves). And they’re all quite nice to me, because a) I’m nice to them, b) it’s probably easier to be nice to all customers anyway, c) I suspect they’re all actual nice people.
One of them is particularly nice, though. She was the first one to learn my full first name - Georges-Henri: you’re forgiven - instead of just using the acronym - GH - which she still writes down on my cup and shouts out across the hall when my drink is ready and I’m still washing my hands in the toilet. Over the past few months, we’ve started talking a little, insofar as I know which days she’s tired and when her shift ends. Nothing beyond that, really.
Today, after having been treated so nicely at the deli at lunch, I must have been in particularly high spirits, so I decided to speak to the young lady just a tad more than the usual. Also, there was no one waiting in line after me, so it didn’t make much of a difference to her: I come here every day, I think about these things.
Me: And what do you do besides working here? Are you a student? [That was my best guess: she looks really young - compared to me - and many of her colleagues are indeed students: once in a while, I catch them talking about sociology, accounting or theoretical physics. Although that last one is somewhat rarer]
Barista: No, I have another job.
Me: You have two jobs?
Me, in a low voice: And I barely have one…
Barista: I’m sorry?
Me: Nothing… And what would your other job be, may I ask?
Barista: Sure - I’m a tanner.
Me: Right… Do you sell shoes or do you make them?
Barista: No, I make them. Otherwise, I would have told you I was a salesperson.
Me: Fair point…
Barista: Also, they’re not shoes, they’re bags, mostly.
Me: Wow… OK…
Barista: I used to work full time for a small tanning company, but they didn’t have enough work to keep me, so now I do freelance gigs and I work here. Until I hopefully find another permanent spot, that is: I like serving coffee, but it’s not exactly my calling.
Me: No arguments there… Well, respect, that’s all I can say… Both for the two-job situation - it must not be easy - and for the fact that you’re a tanner… That’s an amazing craft…
Barista: Why thank you! And may I ask what you do?
Me: Well, I’ll probably write about you later today.
Barista: I’m sorry?
There are limits to sharing.