Thanks to Wesleyan’s general disregard for my sleep schedule, I have become an avid fan of coffee during my three years here. I really like (and need) coffee. So much so that, if I am not editing articles for The Argus’ Opinion section, you can likely find me enjoying a beverage and doing readings in Pi Café. If you are lucky, you can find me stocking the seemingly perpetually empty Kevita shelf in Pi’s fridges (why do you all like Kevita so much?). However, if you really hit the jackpot, I might be the one fumbling your drink behind the counter. Pi has truly become the epicenter of my Wesleyan universe, as I am sure it has taken on a similar symbolic role in many of your sleep-deprived universes.
But as both an employee and frequent visitor of this acclaimed energy-disseminating institution, I often feel conflicted. A general anxiety manifests when my friends ask me a seemingly innocuous question whenever they see me at Pi: What drink should I get?
Sure, I could just blindly give you a drink recommendation, but there’s so much to unpack. Do you like oat milk? Have you tried Chai before? Do you want to have a cold or hot beverage? How do you have the gall to ask me with such a vague question?!?
But, I must digress. It is not just the simplicity of such a question that I find so unnerving. It’s just, I am not sure which side of Pi I represent more.
I have come to realize that my drink decisions are based on two parallel thoughts. The first is one that a majority of you think about: What do I feel like drinking? Am I in the mood for a Salty Ivan to end my day? Am I about to go cram for a midterm in the Fishbowl until 7 a.m.?
The second thought, however, might not be so obvious. You see, there is the empathetic side of being a barista. It’s asking yourself questions like: Should I order a slew of complicated drinks for me and my friends during a coffee rush? How much pain am I inflicting on a fellow barista? If I were in their shoes, how would I feel?
These two pensées often come in to conflict with one another. If I were seriously having this conversation with you, you might be slightly irritated when I enter my existentialist trance, where I am forced to weigh the relative merits of my two lives in deciding which drink to order. What drink should I freaking get?
Hah—it’s still not that simple. To illustrate my point—or really, my dual lives at Pi—I have selected three drinks that might shed some light on what to and what not to get.
Toby the Pi Employee: Just a hot coffee? All I need to do is give you a cup and you do the rest of the work for me??? Perfect!
Toby the Coffee Enthusiast: Wow, I have really hit rock bottom. Is this how far I’m willing to go for a 15-minute energy boost before my 8:50? Why don’t you just muster up the extra 75 cents and get a latte? And why do they call it a Fogbuster anyways? It doesn’t so much bust my “morning fog” as it does leave a bitter, ineradicable taste in my mouth until lunch rolls around. The devil really had a hand in this concoction—bad choice.
Toby the Pi Employee: Oh, no. Fuck. FUCK. Can…Can one of you do it for me? Oh, you are stocking? Okay, fine. This can’t be so hard. Alright, I’ll just put the Matcha powder in and try to dissolve it in the water. Wait, why isn’t it mixing in? Why is there still a blob of Matcha powder clumped together? Hold on, did they ask for soy milk or normal milk? Wait, where did they go? Okay, just try to dissolve it, get a spoon or something, or maybe add some more hot water. Wait, where is that electric stirring… thing???
Rating: Please Don’t/5.
Toby, who has had four cups of coffee today and would like to try something else: Like, I guess I sort of get the hype. It’s smooth and the vanilla syrup pump is a cheeky addition. But I can’t help but feeling like I’m wasting valuable points that I could save for a Salmon Dinner at Swings.
Toby the Pi Employee: Okay, so four Smoothie tickets in a row… perfect. And, they are all different fruit combinations… even better. Does Wild Berry really work with Pina Colada? Oh, and Ice Cream? Talk about palette overload. Okay, I’ll just make the first one and see what happens. Oh, wait, oh no, oh shit. Why is it coming out as a single, purple block of ice? Should I put it back in with more water maybe? Perhaps hold the blender button for another 45 seconds? What’s that? Another smoothie ticket? Are you f–.
Toby, who just finished a History paper and deserves a treat: Ooo… Strawberry and Ice Cream sounds delightful. Banana too? At no extra cost? Smile with teeth emoji.
Rating: Extremely Satisfied/5
And just like that, I snap out of my Pi-induced trance. Maybe I’ve overcomplicated things for myself. Three things you ought to know: 1. I’m probably just really bad at making drinks. 2. Pi is a sacred Wesleyan institution, enjoy it whilst you are here. 3. I mean, let’s face it: a Salty Ivan really is the best thing on the menu anyways. And, it’s easy to make too. All is right in the world.
Tobias Wertime can be reached at email@example.com. Tobias is a member of the class of 2020.