June 2009


Memorandum to Weimar Office Staff

To: Baristas at the Weimar Office
From: That Queer Expatriate
Date: Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Re: Weimar Office Conditions

Dear Staff,

I’m who you think I am: that guy who shows up with his computer and works for 3-4 hours whilst ordering 1-2 coffees and, often, a baguette with ham. The first coffee is usually regular, the second without caffeine (I have to treat the caffeine carefully). I never take milk (I’m lactose intolerant) and I use sugar with the decaf, but not with the caffeinated.

That’s me.

It’s been building slowly over the last several months, but I’ve usually just overlooked it and gone about my own business, but there are several things that need addressing.

First, the music: It’s supposed to be background music. The Weimar Office is neither a concert hall nor a disco. If I can hear the Weimar Office tunes over the music that’s being piped into my ears at its usual volume, Weimar Office music is too loud. You should be striving for subtlety not obviousness with the volume.

Secondly, smoking: Standing outside on the step to the “Strandbar”, a mere 15-20 centimeters from the door does not constitute going outside for a smoke, it is, in fact, standing right in the path of the breeze pushing smoke from your cigarette, right through the crack in the door and into my face.

May I humbly suggest that the next time you need to take a smoke break that not only do you exit the building, that you take at least 10 steps outside of the building insuring that you are not standing in one of its entrances? I might also suggest that you limit your smoke breaks to, at most, one per hour—and that at least 60 minutes elapse between the last puff of a cigarette and the lighting of the next.

Thirdly, I recognize that I’m an unusual customer. Most customers come for 15-20 minutes and then leave. I come and stay—trust me when I say, it’s ok to work. I recognize that there is a pattern to your work when customers aren’t there. Pretend I’m not there: dust, mop the floor, do dishes, or whatever.

Fourthly, tell your friends (intimate and casual), that when you’re working, you’re working. Some of you have, of late, started talking to your friends, and not just for a minute or two, but much, much longer. When I had jobs similar to yours, I would explicitly tell my friends I was working and that they should call me when I’m not working. If it happens that the shop is quiet, fine talk to them for a few minutes, but be prepared to break it off immediately in favor of the next customer that opens the door. Or remind them that you’re working and that today is the day that you’re cleaning one of the displays, washing the espresso machine, or whatever. Hang out with your friends on your own time, not store time.

Tangentially: fraternizing with customers is a good and valuable thing to do, but if you find yourself sitting and talking to a customer whilst on the clock, the customer is now a friend and perhaps you should meet for coffee when you’re not working. Talk to them from behind the bar, but don’t sit at the bar talking to them.

Historically speaking, I’ve usually gotten a lot of work accomplished at the Weimar Office. If you’ve been wondering why the size of my tips have been smaller of late, or, in some cases, non-existent, it’s because right now I am starting to feel a bit alienated. I will, in short order, be auditioning the competition.

The title of “Weimar Office” might be shifting.

3 comments to Memorandum to Weimar Office Staff

  • life is switching.
    i, for sure and even though i am not (really) anymore working as a barista in the caféladen, will miss your presence there.
    in other notes, i will later call the boss and tell him all of your hotspots of observations. i, too think things should work differently there!

  • nfrankchase

    Wow – it sounds like my new job… but with more pay. And more cigarettes.

    I wish could drink on the job. I’d have a drink every time someone lit a cig. I bet I’d get more work done… at least I’d be happier. (ha!)

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