The smiling chirpy barista…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s Vladimir Nabokov quotation is from the novel, The Luzhin Defence:
Luzhin wanted to stand up but was unable to do so. He saw that he had moved backwards somewhere together with his chair and that people had hurled themselves rapaciously on the position on the chessboard, where the whole of his life had just been, and they were wrangling and shouting as they nimbly moved the pieces this way and that…
A phantom went by, stopped and began swiftly to stow the pieces away in a tiny coffin. ‘It’s all over,’ said Luzhin…


The youngish fast-moving chap behind the counter in the cafe, the barista (as they like to be called these days), had obviously just been on a course, a course on ‘How to boost trade by being nice to the customers’. The gist of it being that if you behave like an old-style sullen, mean-spirited, sourpuss sort of cafe person, people might go and get their coffee and buns somewhere else.
‘Good afternoon sir! How are you today?’
‘Oh, fair… just fair…’ I replied, (working on the principle of ‘when in doubt, be honest’) and, to show a bit of humanity, added, ‘And how are you?’
‘Oh, very well, very well!’ he replied, in his smiling loud, chirpy-chap, thoroughly ‘likeable’ voice.
He’d obviously been paying full attention on that weekend course, but I’m afraid the effect was ruined for me as he carefully avoided looking me in the eye for the duration of our exchange. His gaze was fixed, directed a good foot to my left, as if he was staring at some distant pleasant vista – perhaps even an image hanging in the air of himself, not here in the cafe at work, but lolling, feet up, on a soft sofa, a cold beer in hand, watching football on a very large bright television…
‘I’ll have a black tea please, no, no milk, thanks, and one of those dark lumpy triangular chocolate things from your glass display case,’ I said.
‘A tiffin…’
‘A tiffin?’ I said.
‘Yes…’ he said.
‘Super!…’ I said.

About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
This entry was posted in books, brain, cafe, conversation, Dulltown, jobs, observations, reading, words, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The smiling chirpy barista…

  1. “Rapaciously” gosh nobody uses words like that anymore. What a fine word! Also, my pet peeve with cafe/retail people is that Americanism of “Have a nice day now” haha!

    • Dave Whatt says:

      …and the way they always call you ‘guys’… as if we are living in New York or something…
      The Nabokov novel was I think written about 1930 – hence the colourful language…
      I do like ‘Nabby’.

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