Thursday, March 24, 2011

Coffee Shop Life: An unhappy man, an indignant waitress and moral jujitsu

So, on my second day back at the coffee shop... I ran into this "older" gentleman. He cut his way to the front of the line and yelled... "I need a blueberry muffin and a coffee." He wasn't looking at one particular barista... he just blurted it out for the world to hear and attend to. The people behind him starred. I was helping another customer at the time and said, "Okay Sir, we'll be right with you." He proceeded to order a bottle of milk. This milk comes from a local creamery and is contained in a glass bottle. Therefore, the glass bottle costs a bit more. However, if you return the glass bottle... we give you your money back. Somehow, in the midst of our communication... there was a mishap. And he had thought I had told him something different. When I wrung up his order, he snapped at me. And then he snapped again. 

Every person in the vicinity heard this. I tried to explain it slower. I spoke a bit more clearly and pronounced. I tried to keep my composure. I tried to smile. Make it "light". Somehow, we both agreed. He took his muffin and his coffee firmly in hand and headed to a quite table nestled near the window. And I think he enjoyed his stay. One of our loyal customers approached me after and said, "way to handle that one, Lady! I want to give you a hug!" But I didn't always handle things this way.

I grew up as a CORO (child of restaurant owners). I was taught to work hard. To smile at costumers. To remember that the "customer is always right". I learned the art of people pleasing. However, sometimes it took a large effort. I took things personally. It was my family's restaurant.

 A year before my parent's sold their restaurant, a "regular" customer felt the need to place his negativity and bitterness on me (his waitress). He complained about his breakfast. He insulted our establishment. And therefore, insulted "my family". And boy... did I ever let into him. I told him that we didn't need OR WANT his business anyway. And I told him to leave. 

And then I went back to the kitchen and cried. I was 19 years old. 

So now, at 27, I've learned a few things. I've learned to perform a sort of "moral jujitsu". What is it? Well... I had not heard of it myself until a wise, learned, gracious, humble teacher taught me about such things. You take that negative energy that flings itself at you and you turn it around. Non-violently and non-abrasively... you resist it. You don't get caught up in this negative energy... you turn it around with good vibrations. You kill "it" with kindness. You out-wit this negative force. Not in a sarcastic way... but with a "trueness" to honestly seeking this negative energy's destruction and inevitably the soul's freedom that's behind it. 

I'm not gonna lie. I'm not so great at it yet. I think that when you get really good at it... you don't even have to do what I did: When that man in the coffee shop took his seat, I went into the dish room and "shook it out". I might have even pretended to kick him in the pants. I might have even cussed under my breath. 

But then I let it go. And I smiled at him later on. And he might have even smiled back.  


  1. I've learned that most of the time people like that aren't mad at you. There is something else going on in their lives that has made them angry. You are a safe target.

    Even with that knowledge I'm no good at dealing with difficult people. That's why I had to get out of retail.

  2. You go girl. Never let them see you sweat. He probably left the coffee shop a little confused and also, he will probably return and have a little more respect for the girl that didn't take his crap (with a smile on her face).

  3. I've never heard of moral jujitsu, but I like it. And, I think I need to work on it. :) I definitely had a little laugh about what you did when the man took his seat. Hilarious!

  4. Thanks for stopping by my humble blog. I see there is a lot I can learn from you, Grasshopper. I usually practice moral hari kari...I'm quite good at it. The jujitsu I'll have to work on. It seems worth doing if I just could. Is tongue biting involved? I'm not good at tongue biting.

  5. It's your smile!! He couldn't be mad at someone with such a nice smile. Can't wait to read another coffee shop story

  6. Jenny my dear thank you for visiting my blog, I am happy to learn about you and your history. I just read it, I cried and I feel so inspired by your journey, you are amazing! I have endometriosis and maybe I can have kids of my own or maybe not, not sure because I haven't start trying yet but I'd love to adopt a kid from Brazil where I am from and where so many kids are just left abandoned...

    Regarding the moral jiu-jitsu I find it quite wise, sometimes it may seem easier to just be rude but I think you mastered!

  7. What a cute and inspiring blog you have!!! thank you for your sweet comment :) hope you have a wonderful weekend!