Saturday, March 03, 2007

In Like a Line

I can't really figure out if March has come in like a lion or a lamb this year. On St. David's Day, it was beautiful and sunny and not too cold. Yesterday, great sloppy ice-blobs fell out of the sky and coated the trees which tried valiantly not to bow. Today it was about 50 degrees until my drive home from work, at which point it snowed a little bit. I'm confused. I think March is confused. If it starts off with multiple personalities, does it stay that way until April?

Furthermore, Saturdays seem to be thrown into the Starbucks week to test my Lenten resolve. Maybe because it was so warm, everyone came out of the woodwork and ended up in our store. In the six hours I worked today, we had a line out the door which really only lulled about three times, for less than twenty minutes each. I felt pretty much overwhelmed all day.

There is an upside to this, though. It seems to me that in the battle between good and evil, if you get blatantly confronted by the thing you're trying to combat, it's easier to triumph, because there it is, right in your face. Today I could say to myself, "Wow. This rush is not ending. Clearly, I am going to get annoyed. I had better be extra vigilant not to say anything cutting and nasty about anybody." (It may also have helped that there was no time to do this.)

Also, that aspect of the ordeal was probably rendered easier by the fact that, with that many people, customers cease to be individuals, and become The Line, a living entity separate from the sum of its parts. When there's a Line like the one we had today, there's almost a sense of solidarity between baristas and customers, because nobody likes The Line. Everybody just wants it to go away. Customers don't want to be in it. Baristas want to be able to refill the stacks of cups and lids and bins of ice and fridges of milk, but they can't, because there is The Line, staring at them, daring them to move from their posts. On the other hand, they can't fulfill The Line's demands if they can't run off and get any of those things.

This Line was a sassy, teasing kind of thing, because for hours it would keep dwindling down enough so that we could see the end of it approaching the register. Then, just before we annihilated it, just before we could refill the shockingly barren pastry case, or empty the astonishingly replete trash at the condiment bar, five more people would walk in, and there--The Line! It would almost have been more bearable if it had stayed level at the door the entire time.

I left in the early evening, saying sincere prayers for a reprieve for my colleagues, and feeling relieved to have escaped The Line without being mean.


AnnaMaria said...

I would say a little prayer before the people would come in 2 minutes before the vet clinic closed:)

A Musing Mom said...

"customers cease to be individuals, and become The Line, a living entity separate from the sum of its parts". I love that line (pun intended) and the way you go on to describe it! You've got a good image going there.

Jenn said...

Annamaria--you mean "opened"? ;) Anyway, praying is always a great idea!

AMM--Thanks! And nice pun. I was actually pretty proud of mine (in the title), too, but so far no one seems to have noticed. (Or it was too much of a groaner for anyone to deign to say anything.)

A Musing Mom said...

I did notice pun in your title and appreciated it (I'm a sucker for puns).

Craver VII said...

You expressed the line thing quite well, actually. Your pun was good, but your readers are slow… or at least: I am slow.

I can appreciate that you want to avoid complaining about customers, and I don’t want to convince you that you should be complaining about people, but I have an idea that I would like to share.

There was a company where an individual was moving to another part of the country. We gave a going away party, and as a gift to us, she prepared a list of “X-files.” This was a memorialization of the most bizarre experiences in her field. I do the same. So now, if I get a weird exchange with someone, I almost hope it’s tweaked enough to make it into the “X-files” or “crazy-box.” All the medium and light-weight stuff is disregarded as it is not newsworthy.

GreekGeek said...

I did like your "in like a line," but it didn't make sense until after I'd read the post - a contextual pun? And of course this post reminds me of what I used to face in retail (think bookbuying time at seminary!), and what I stand to face returning to that world... Oh, for your grace in not badmouthing customers...

sarah said...

I liked the pun, pretty clever:)

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Mark Goodyear said...

Great image of the living line--like others have noted. It's an image of the church really. All of the Christians make up a living entity that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Thank goodness. Because individually, we are not much better than most people. Now if only we could remember that God's church is a living entity bigger than the activities that happen in our buildings...

the item said...

Touché. In like a line is a beautiful play on words. I especially enjoyed your collective take on the line, in all its "sassy" and "teasing" ways.

Jenn said...

AMM--thanks for noticing. I have a weakness for puns, too. It actually might be more like a disease. And it's genetic.

Craver--thanks for noticing, too--eventually. ;) As for not complaining about people, I'm pretty sure you're right. But it seems like the best stories should be able to be told without being cruel or petty. I have realised that I kind of have a weakness for that, too--at least if I'm the one dishing it out. So I've been trying to figure out more creative ways to tell them, without resorting to that. And if I can't figure it out yet, I may have to withhold the stories until I do, I guess.

Mariam--I thought you'd resonate. Also, I was pretty sure it was a contextual pun, but I like to think that makes it cleverer.

Sarah--thanks. Are you one of the approximately 25 Sarahs I do know, or one of the many many more I don't? (I couldn't access your blog.) In any case, thanks for stopping by and commenting!

Mark--too right. At some point the similarities between the Line and the Church flickered through my mind, too. It's too bad, though, that the Church is often perceived just as negatively.

John--I thought you'd like that. Thanks for enjoying the play on words even though I blew its cover.