Saturday, February 5, 2011


I've now been working in Melbourne long enough to have come to the sad realisation that customers here are every bit as stupid as those in New Zealand - perhaps even more so. It doesn't help that right now, with it being holiday season, the city is positively crawling with pests, more commonly known as Americans.

I don't know how most Americans are allowed outside without minders. I am aware that not ALL Americans are mind-bogglingly stupid - I once had an American lecturer who was one of the smartest people I've ever come across. However, America, these tourist ambassadors you keep sending to Australia are not doing you any favours.

Actually, I was just reminded of the time that Dad and I were walking down the main street of Browns Bay in New Zealand behind a typical American father and daughter. I mean, if I had the strongest microscope in the world I still wouldn't have been able to find this guy's cock. His crappy plastic daughter asks him if she can go to some crappy fast-food outlet, which I've long since forgotten the name of. Anyway, it doesn't exist in New Zealand because we all still have somewhat refined taste buds there. The micropenis of a father responds with this:

"No honey, they don't have that here. Remember, you're in a third-world country now!"

Excuse me?!

Look, see, there's even a Starbucks!

You can tell just by looking that someone is an American. So obviously, every time one of them enters my workplace, I die a little bit inside, even before they open their mouths. I've had several of them ask for extra whipped cream on their coffee. We don't put whipped cream in our coffee. We don't even have whipped cream in our shop. That's fucking disgusting. One day I just responded with "no, we don't have whipped cream. Here in Australia, we don't feel the need to disguise every flavour under the sun with half a pound of sugar". Obviously she just looked at me blankly.

OH YES AND. I recently learnt a shocking fact. I was on the plane and reading the crappy airline magazine, and I came across an article about "Australian cuisine in America". I made some offhand comment to the boyfriend along the lines of "Australian cuisine? What, a pie and sauce? Lol lol lol!" However, I read on, and discovered that the humble meat pie is indeed a rare and unusual specimen for these Americans! I don't understand. I shall now consider THEM a third-world country - as we know, all the best countries have meat pies. (Please, if you're an American reading this and you DO know what a meat pie is, please speak up so I don't lose all my faith in humanity). I mean, you'd think a meat pie would be PERFECT for the greasy, fatty American "cuisine". 

Anyway, I've had enough of bitching about Americans. They may be a special kind of stupid, but we have some quite remarkable douches in Australia as well. These are all true stories, no hyperbole.

We have very clear labeling in our shop. All our food is displayed in cabinets - one warm, for pies and sausage rolls, and one cool. There is absolutely no indication that there is any more food than what is right in front of the customer. We have no extra menus, no other counters, no obvious kitchen. We have eight flavours of pie, clearly labeled like so: 

However, at least 2 in 5 customers will peer at the pies for aeons, then look up and say "I'll have a steak and mushroom please". 



Next thing: PLEASE be specific. Saying "one meat pie, please" or "a pie and a coffee, please" is not going to get you anywhere. All our pies have meat except for one. So when I give you say, a Thai chicken curry pie and a short macchiato, don't look at me all confused and say "but I wanted a steak pie and a latte!" Next time, why don't you say that? That would make things easier for all of us. Oh god but yesterday, this woman comes in a says "a drink, please".


Turned out she wanted a strawberry milkshake. She conveyed this through a vague hand gesture. I think I'm psychic. And she wins an award I just made up:

It's the vague award and it's the colour of mushrooms and sadness. Enjoy.

I could go on all day about the general twatty things customers do. But I won't, so here's a quick list of the lowhighlights.

  1. There is obviously a counter. Don't come around the side, or worse, INSIDE the work area.
  2. If I'm obviously busy in the back, don't try and jump the queue and place an order with me. There's clearly a person taking orders at the front. 
  3. Of course the pies are hot. Can't you feel the warmth radiating from that warmer you're standing right in front of?
  4. "One chicken toasted sandwich please. Can you toast it?" No, I think I'll freeze it.
  5. "Raisin toast please. Can I have it toasted?" No, I'm just going to kill you.
  6. "Small or large?" "Medium". Did I say "small, medium or large?" I think not.
Those are all general things - many, many customers do all of the above every day. However, some customers are just a cut below all the rest. Some deserve a special individual mention.

Bag lady

This woman is something else. She's a regular customer, though thankfully no longer regular on my shift. Hopefully I scare her or something. Anyway, every time it's the same: in her awful nasal voice, she demands a small weak cappuccino with four sugars, along with a glass of tap water. I'll bring it out to her, trying hard not to breathe in when I get close to her, and go back behind the counter and count to 10. One (or both) of these two things will invariably happen. Either the coffee will "taste funny", in which case I will take it away and make exactly the same thing, which she will declare to be "lovely". She will then insist on telling me exactly how lovely it was multiple times, often when I'm serving other customers.

When she leaves, I will go and collect her cup with a sense of dread and foreboding. Sure enough, the coffee will be all over the table, and the 3259348570 napkins she has scattered over the table won't have absorbed any of the mess. Seriously, there isn't that much coffee in a small cup. Does she bring her own in a hip-flask or something? Oh yeah, and the other thing she enjoys is to pour the coffee from the cup into the saucer, and drink it out of the saucer. Like this:

Pastry problems

This man is one of my favourites. And by "favourite", I mean he made me want to stick my head in the oven. He came in and stood in front of the pie warmer for ages, staring at it with the most confused expression on his face. On that side of the counter is the pie warmer, and up above that there is a room-temperature section with croissants and danishes. All of these things are very clearly labelled.

After a while, I feel this is getting ridiculous, so I ask him if he needs any help. He looks up at me, confused expression all intact, and asks me "are these the pies?" This would have been bad enough if he had actually been pointing at the pies, but no. He was pointing at the CROISSANTS. This man needs special help. Perhaps a handy chart, like this:

Food recognition issues

This man pissed me off even before he hit his stupidity climax by asking for "a meat pie". I sighed and asked "chunky steak or mince beef?" He looked at me blankly. "Steak and what?" he says. "Mince." To which he responds with

"What's mince?"

WHAT. He had to be kidding. How can you be a mid-40s Australian and not know what MINCE IS. I just responded with "...mince. I actually can't explain it any further than that. Mince."

He ordered the chunky steak. 

The number of stupid customer stories obviously grows by the day, but time is limited! To round off, here is a list of handy tips for customers visiting my work:

  1. Please read the menu. That will cover all your product and price enquiries.
  2. We're a pie shop. We do not sell Chinese dim sims, pizzas, pastas or salads (all real requests).
  3. We're a pie shop. Nothing here is healthy. Don't even ask me that.
  4. I'm in here. The door is open and the lights are on. OF COURSE WE'RE OPEN.
Finally, I don't want to give the misleading impression that every customer coming in has the intelligence of a very stupid slug. There are a few regular customers who just make my day. I thank you for saving me from sticking my head in the oven halfway through each shift.

Coming soon: Stories from the dark days of the supermarket.


  1. steakandmushroompleaseFebruary 6, 2011 at 9:38 PM


  2. Jamie here.
    This blog makes my day. Keep it up.