Funny as a crutch

There’s something amiss at the Starbucks that faces my route to the Coffee Underground. An undercurrent of meanness. But deniable meanness. The kind of meanness that mean people tell you is meant to be funny. Which I suppose it is. To them.

I’m thinking about the barista who announces to the customers as they walk in the door, “I’m sorry, we’re closed,” waits for them to turn around, then says, “Naw, come on back. I was just kiddin’.” They chuckle, embarrassed. Joke’s on them. Har, har.

I’m thinking about a second barista, the six-foot 20-something, who openly mocks his matronly colleague when she fails to recognize a promotional coupon someone has tendered as payment. She’s apologized to the customer saying, “I’m sorry for my brain …” then trailed off. “I’m sorry for my brain!” the barista laughs. “I wasn’t finished,” she says. Her dignity is up. “That’s right!,” he says, “Keep making excuses!” Har, har.

I’m thinking about a third barista, this one a woman, who sometimes shouts into the room … just to be shouting, she explains at the top of her voice. She needs to get it out, she says. I think to myself, anybody who’s here to relax will just have to deal. Har, har.

Who hired these people? What’s being done to them to make them this way? Or not being done?

If, instead of working there, they lived there, and they were related, I’d swear they were a family of functional alcoholics.