The kick of coffee

‘A tall latte praline with pumpkin pie syrup, cream, and cashew nut milk.’

Georgie looked at the tightly pressed lips from under her barista hat. Not only were the orders becoming incredibly extravagant as Halloween grew closer, but customers were also more reluctant to recognize her as a human being. A simple ‘Hi’ and a ‘please’ would suffice. She had become a natural extension to the coffee machine for them. As a rule, she found that they were at their friendliest just before the summer break, when their beach holiday was still ahead. The colder months of the year always blew the summer sociability away.

‘CASHEW NUT,’ the customer bellowed as she picked the bottle of soy milk by mistake.

Georgie’s mouth twitched nervously when she considered the bright orange drink in the cup. She had always found the Halloween drinks properly revolting. She secured the lid on top and handed the latte to the manicured fingers above the counter.

‘Hello. Can I have a small hot chocolate and a cinnamon bun, please?’

Georgie stood on the tip of her toes to bend over the counter and see a little boy smiling at her. She smiled back, enjoying every ounce of his polite respect. ‘Hi! Do you want your bun warmed?’ He nodded eagerly. ‘I’ll bring it to you when it’s done,’ Georgie said.

‘Thanks,’ he replied.

A moment later she was walking into the room with a chocolate and a warm bun on a tray. The child waved at her from a table at the back. Georgie trotted to him.

She had just put the hot chocolate down when she felt a sharp pain in her shin.

‘I don’t like your trousers,’ the boy said, kicking her leg violently.

Georgie suddenly realized how much she hated her job.