28 January 2009

My Borders Story

BuddyAs soon as I got my work permit eight years ago, I went to Borders and asked for a job, because I thought it would be cool, and I thought I was cool, which made it a good fit.

So I came in with a friend, and a dude gave me an application, and I filled it up on the spot, still standing, because I was so excited, and I handed him the application, and that was it. I was very pleased with myself.

So pleased and so certain I got the job, that I wanted to celebrate in the Borders Cafe.

My friend was first. She ordered a latte.

The cafe girl put some coffee, added hot milk, put some puffy shit on top, and gave my friend her latte.

I was next. I ordered a cappuccino.

The cafe girl put some coffee, added a tiny bit of hot milk, and filled the rest of the cup with the puffy shit.

Now I was grabbing the cup and realizing I had a tiny little teaspoon of cappuccino in a large cup, so I said, "Hmm..."

And she said, "That's the way you make cappuccino."

And I said, "But there's nothing there."

And she said, "That's real cappuccino."

And the fucker behind me in line said to the cafe girl, "People don't know what real cappuccino looks like anymore."

And I didn't want to create a scene because I just applied to work there, but I also didn't want to spend $4 on a teaspoon of coffee and a bunch of fluff on top, even if it was sprinkled with chocolate powder. So my friend made a suggestion: Just get Cafe Girl to add some hot milk.

But Cafe Girl said, "Then that won't be a cappuccino--it will be latte."

So I said, "Okay, so I want a latte. It's the same price. Can't you just add some hot milk to my cup and call it a latte?"

And she said, "It doesn't work like that."

So she gave me a Borders Return Slip, where I had to put my name, address, and phone number. She then started looking through the trash because she threw away my credit card receipt, and she couldn't give me the refund without the receipt. And she couldn't find it just by sifting through the trash, so she emptied the trash can on the counter behind her and started looking through that mess until she found my receipt. So I signed the Return Slip, and I signed the Credit Card Refund Slip, and I bought a latte.

So now she took my cappuccino, and she opened the top, and she put the cup against the machine, and she pressed a button, and hot milk came out and filled my cup. Remember how Moses hit the rock with his magic stick to get the water out in the desert? Something like that.

And that's my Borders story.

Wait, there's a punchline.

I got a phone call later that day, telling me they read my application, and the only open position they had was in the cafe. I said I'd call them back.


But just in case this story was a bit disappointing and you feel you've invested too much time for a story that ends with a cafe girl pushing a button, here's a book-related issue:

I read a review on Harper's about a book by Clare Pettitt, and all I could think was, "Really? Think she's compensating for something? Clare, no matter how many T's you've got in your name, you'll never have a penis."

Sometimes I wonder how normal people look at things.


SJ said...

Am I normal? I didn't give a thought about the name.

If you had been in her place you would have done the same. They call it a process.

Samurai said...

I remember a particular time I went for an interview with a company. Made the appointment and took the bus across town (I did not have a car at the time), missed another bus. Hard a problem with my ATM card, and a host of other small issued.

I got to the business early anyway, and announced myself to the receptionist. She advised me that the person I was there to see was not in.

I had seen his car outside and could hear his voice, add to that I was pissed because of the trip over to the building, so I started yelling (very loud) that it was very inappropriate for him to treat me like this, and making a general scene.

I did not get the job... but in hindsight, that was not a bad thing. Two years later the company collapsed in the "Dot Com Bust".

I would title this, "Ways not to impress your potential employers."

A Free Man said...

Borders blows. I used to work in a Books-a-Million. I don't know if they're still around, they were sort of a low rent Borders. It was a shit job in a shit place. I did, however, have a reasonably torrid fling with my manager, so it wasn't all bad. It was a shit job.

And chain coffee shops blow.

Bluestreak said...

You have GOT to be kidding me. I got a job once at a coffee shop when I was in college. It was a shit job at a shit place where they wouldn't even let their employees have a fountain soda without charging them full price. I remember taking a break once with one of my co-workers and we were kind of complaining about it and she said, "well, the money is good". We made minimum wage! Any less money would have been illegal!

Frosty said...

That is mortifying. I would have been mortified. That girl behind the counter was a complete tard. I would've just given you some hot milk and not wasted everyone's time like that. Geez.

metalmom said...

I agree word for word with Frosty.

Jill/Twipply Skwood said...

I actually just figured out yesterday that now I'm sort of afraid to eat or drink at the Borders cafe because the bathroom at Borders is the nastiest bathroom I have ever seen, and that includes all the bar bathroom pictures I've posted.

So yesterday I went there to get a birthday present and I was thinking, "I'll just stop in the bathroom." And then I thought, "No, actually, that bathroom's gross". And then I thought about how glad I was not to work there, because then THAT would be my bathroom at work!!!!!!

So I'm thinking you only would probably have been better off with the teaspoon of coffee, because washing your hands in a bathroom like that has GOT to be an exercise in futility. So at least then you only would have gotten a teaspoon full of germs.

(I'm making up for the brevity of my last comment, btw & also, funny on Bush's lack of profound comments!)

Loz said...

LOL :)

Woozie said...

Haha, oh wow.

I could never work retail.

I thought about applying to my local Barnes and Noble, but at the time a friend of mine worked there as well and I didn't want to strain our friendship by being around each other literally all day every day. Plus I kind of had a crush on him, and yeah. During the summer when he went on vacation, I did try unsuccessfully to take his job though.

Thems a lot of T's

Tom Harper said...

I didn't know it was so easy to transform a capuccino into a latte? Cool.

I was at one of those infamous food courts a long time ago, and this one booth had Indian, Japanese and Chinese food. But it was the same food; the same generic glops of diced up meat and vegetables. If you ordered curry, they'd pour a certain sauce on it, and there's your curry. If you wanted Sukiyaki, they'd take the exact same glop and pour a different sauce on it.

Jeff said...

Ha! That's too funny. But can you really blame her? I can't even imagine how screwed up their milk inventory would have been if she had given you the milk without the return.

BlackenedBoy said...

I hate people like that. Some judicious bending of the rules is a good and helpful thing.

prayingtodarwin said...

I always thought a job at one of those major chain bookstores would be great. But then I noticed no one ever wanted to help me. And they looked sad.

(And if any of us gave a crap what normal people thought about, we wouldn't be here, now would we?)

cooper said...

I see the reviews coming now...

The petittte story, about a petittte coffee, is a petittte masterpiece.

Sorry couldn't help myself.

Ali said...

I thought u will write about how great that job at Borders was ;) I always wanted to work at Borders and Barnes & Noble, to be with books and coffee all day, life can't get better. Anyways, I like my coffee regular and with cream, I don't like those Starbucks coffee that has little coffee than an atom!

Nice post by the way

LiteralDan said...

The difference between us is that you were in line buying any kind of coffee for $4, but otherwise I would respond just like you.

And the T thing is even more hilarious than it would have been if I'd ever have thought of that angle. You rule.

Mom said...

The dumbing down of the modern workforce.

Employers do not advocate decision making. Procedures must be followed to a "T", lest the employee make a decision on their own.

People in the Sun said...

SJ, I don't need to be in her place! I already have a penis, which means I don't need T's in my name!

Samurai, I was applying for a job I thought could be really good. But I had to park far from the place, which meant that I walked with a silly suit in the sun, and by the time I got to the interview I was covered with sweat. Oh, and I also had poison ivy, so the whole interview I was just thinking, "I'm wet, stinky, and itchy."

Freeman, chain coffee shops blow, but independent coffee shops blow in a different way. Like they look at you funny if you don't read the newspaper, don't wear mandals, and put sugar in your coffee.

Bluestreak, I worked for Ben and Jerry's for a couple of weeks. They teach you to scoop ice cream in a way that looks like it's full, but in fact there's only air inside the ball. And after two weeks I was fired for wearing my cap backwards.

Frosty, funny that she probably didn't even realize how tarded she was. After all, THERE ARE RULES. And the fact that the douchebag behind me agreed with her probably didn't help. I should have added that he was wearing a stupid hat, but then again, a man standing in line in the Borders Cafe, commenting on other people's lack of knowledge about coffee obviously wears a stupid hat.

Metalmom, word for word? Even the use of the word tard?

Jill, I've never used the Borders bathroom. I've been to many countries, have done many things I'm not proud of. And I moved on, stronger. Like Tom Waits says, "The things you can't remember tell the things you can't forget." But I've never been to a Borders bathroom. Even I have limits.

Loz, thanks. {:-|

Woozie, I did years of retail. If there's one thing you learn from retail is to look at the clock. That's what you do most of the time.

Tom, that's funny. Those food courts are horrible. All chain restaurants. Nothing really good to eat. Never comfortable seats. Loud.

Jeff, heads would have rolled. In fact, that's how the recession started. One day you give someone extra milk, and the next day you give homeless people mortgages. It's a slippery slope.

Blackened, as much as I felt like an idiot arguing with her, it could have been worse. I could have been her.

Praying, it's true. They all look sad. I'm going later today to Babies 'R Us, and that's where you actually have the saddest people in the world. I understand the costumers there can be a little insane, but these poor employees spend their days hiding from people. Messed up way to spend a day.


"There are many books about Stanley and Livingston. What makes you think your book will stand out?"

"Hmm, I can add a T to my name."

"Another one? Genius! You've got yourself a book deal!"

Ali, I'm also not a Starbucks fan. I'm not ashamed to say it: I'm a Dunkin' Donuts guy. And instant coffee. And black mud coffee.

Dan, I had an excuse to stand there. After all, my financial troubles were about the end with my new job! And no, you rule.

Mom, I know. Like I wrote in the comment above, about my Ben and Jerry's experience. Actually, not only did they make me scoop with a hole in the middle, and not only was I fired for wearing my cap backwards, but when they trained me, they made me weigh the scoops. If they weighed more than 7 grams, I put too much ice cream and not enough air, and had to try again.

Ali said...

Oh man, I love Dunkin Donuts, its the best coffee in America, I also like Caribu which we also have in Jordan. Seattle's Best coffee comes second place

Nanny Goats In Panties said...

And why so T-heavy on the last name only? What the hell did she mean by that? And did she marry someone to get that last name? Was her maiden name 'abcedfg'?

People in the Sun said...

Ali, sometimes I think I should ask them to take it easy on the sugar, but you only live once--might as well drown yourself in sugar.

Nanny, she was engaged to Mr. Pettit, but then she met a new guy.

Lirun said...

הזוי ביותר

כאן זה לא היה קורה

טוב אז אולי מדי פעם

People in the Sun said...

Lirun, my job at Ben & Jerry's, where they taught me to weigh ice cream scoops and make sure they were 7 grams, was in Israel. I think they have as much insanity in Israel regarding rules as they have in the US. I think it's more of an international chain-store disease than simply an American one.

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