people are the f-ing worst

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

a girl enters a battlefield of coffee grounds and her only armor is a Sharpie.

The morning breeze in the air became more distant as Maisie walked through the doors of the café. Somehow, every time she walked through this damn door her spirits seemed to lower into a cesspit of old ground coffee.

“Hey, boo!” Jeremy exclaimed, as Maisie slipped through the back to set her bag down. Jeremy was another barista, and boy, was she thankful he was here today. “Hey, boo! What’s up?” Maisie replied, putting her apron on, tying it tight with a bow to finish in the front. “Not ready for today, that’s what.” Maisie giggled, and said “Smoke break today? Or are you still trying to quit?”

“Back on my bullshit again as always, so yes please!” Jeremy laughed loudly before going back out into the main area. Maisie looked down at her phone. Five minutes until open. Five minutes to gather herself before she stepped out into the minefield that was filled with caffeine-obsessed zombies who need to be revived with a fucking complicated concoction that honestly was not worth the money. Maisie streamlined towards the bathroom, taking a deep breath while looking at herself in the fingerprint-encrusted mirror. You just have to get through this weekend and then you’re off on Monday. That’s not so bad, right?

“Yeah, right.” Maisie thought out loud before adjusting her apron, fluffing up her tousled curls, heading out to battle, armed with her Sharpie.

The doors were about to open, and the espresso machine was buzzing while coffee trickled into the shuttle. Jeremy was already running back and forth, while Devon prepped some baked goods and popped them into the oven. Maisie inserted herself into the scene, grabbing a wet rag and giving the counter a wipe-down that would sure need to be done again in the next hour. Ding! The first person walked through the door. They were unrecognizable. All the baristas were aware of the addicts; the people who came in almost every single day and whose orders they knew by heart (most of the time). Yet it was Saturday, so it was always mixed crowd. As more unknowns came through, Jeremy worked his magic on the drinks, Devon got all the food orders set up, and Maisie ran the register, inking cups with a code she knew all too well. Ding! Maisie looked up, on guard ready to write on another cup. This time, it was one of the addicts. “Fuck me,” Maisie muttered under her breath, and then gave Devon a knowing look, and they did the same. Americano Man, also known as the asshole who likes his cup three fourths full with just a tiny splash of half and half.

One time, on Christmas Eve, Maisie ended up by herself for some time as the breaks got screwed up and overlapped each other. So, she was ringing, making drinks, and getting people the plethora of cookies that they could have and should have baked at home. As the espresso machine ran with Americano Man’s cup underneath, Maisie was getting a customer’s order and just like that, it overflowed. “Oh damn! No!” Americano Man exclaimed, reaching over the counter, and with the intention of throwing it into the trash, ended up pouring steaming hot liquid all over the floor. “I didn’t want to be like this on Christmas, but I had no choice,” Americano Man said, suddenly calm yet brimming with anger. Maisie wanted to take this man’s whole head and put it straight down into the blender. Maybe that’ll clear his conscience, she thought while remaking the drink with no fuss, wishing she were anywhere but here.

The interaction with Americano Man was short and clipped, as she no longer trusted any of these people. These people who came in with the intention of just ordering a drink and getting out of the way yet somehow making everything so complicated in the blink of an eye.

More addicts slipped through; the fit couple who got only got one pump of mocha and nonfat milk layered on top; the older married couple who always ordered five things from the bake case and two chai lattes; and the woman whose drink order was so complicated Maisie still had to ask every time because what good would it do her to try and remember that shit?

One o’ clock rolled around and that meant it was time for break. Maisie rolled up her sleeves and wiped the counter down once more, before heading through the back. Jeremy was waiting for Leila to arrive, the most seasoned barista beyond all of them. Maisie never understood how Leila had worked here for so long, but she admired her because Maisie did not have the guts or the gall.

She pulled a Parliament from the almost empty pack and stuck the end in her mouth as she lit it swiftly. “Oh god! You would not believe this Karen that just came through!” Jeremy’s voice echoed against the pavement. He took a spot next to her and she handed him a cigarette. “Fuck tell me about it,” Maisie took a big inhale, letting the nicotine overtake her body. “She was all like I told you I wanted caramel on top of the whip! Let me speak to the manager! Like, bitch, you said you didn’t want caramel in the first place when I asked you! But, I remade that drink though and poured half a bottle of caramel in that thing so she could get the fuck up outta my face.”

“God, people are the fucking worst. Honestly. Like it’s coffee. It’s gonna go straight through them and out of their asshole.” Jeremy laughed out loud, as the ashes from the cigarette fluttered to the ground. “I know that’s right. So, what’s up with you? How’s your new boo thing?”

“Ah no, it’s not even serious. It’s casual. For right now at least.” Maisie giggled, and looked down trying to keep herself from smiling too hard. “Oooh for right now? That means something more hopefully,” Jeremy chimed in, giving Maisie a mischievous wink.

“I’m just not sure if they actually like me.”

“But, y’all talk everyday so that means they like you. Just ask them, and see what they say about you having feelings,”

“You know, see, I could do that, but that’s what a responsible person would do and that’s not me.” Maisie sighed, throwing the Parliament down before crushing it with her boot.

“For real, I feel that!” Jeremy gave a slight giggle before ditching his cigarette as well. “I think I might be leaving though,” he stated, rubbing his palms together. “But wait no! What am I gonna do without you? I’m gonna be the only black person up this bitch,” Maisie cried, resting her hand lightly on his forearm. “Haha! Boo, you’ll be fine. I didn’t say it was set in stone. But I want to make it happen. Plus, this isn’t my forever.”

“Yeah, I feel that. This isn’t my forever either. I can’t get stuck here.”

“No, really though. Working here sucks my soul dry and I feel like I’m losing my purpose. Yet these bills will not stop coming so,”

“Facts. Also, I’m just sick of capitalism and the way they exploit the hell out of our asses,”

“Oh, here you go, going on a tangent again.” Jeremy joked and Maisie’s face lit up in pretend shock. “Haha! But you know it’s true though,” Maisie picked up her pack and pulled out another Parliament, and Jeremy gave her a judgmental look. “What? This habit is dying really hard,” Maisie laughed before lighting up again. “Okay, fuck it. Give me another one. You make me weak,” Jeremy grabbed the pack from her, taking the lighter from her outstretched palm.

Maisie and Jeremy pulled on their cigarettes and talked a little more before time was up. They walked back inside together before Maisie went to the bathroom again. Somehow, this bathroom became her solace. This is where she cried when the caffeine addicted lunatics were being extra mean or when she just needed to take a second for herself, because out there, all of her moments were taken up by utter chaos and people who didn’t give a rat’s ass about her except the number of sugars they thought they needed.  She lined her lips with the lip balm she kept in the back pocket of her jeans and ran her fingers through her hair once more.

Okay let’s do this. She walked out with her hands in the front pockets of her apron, and she felt the Sharpie. The ridges of the sides, and the big sleek top that cascaded over the entire structure of the marker. She held on tight to it and kept hanging on once she was at the register. And soon the top was off and with a dazzling grin, topped with a façade that she’d perfected, Maisie exclaimed, “Hi! What can I get for you?”





Submitted: May 05, 2021

© Copyright 2021 j.s.m.. All rights reserved.

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Short Story / Humor