After-the-Fact Advice

You’ve heard it before.

You’re lamenting over a very embarrassing or difficult time in your life with a friend of yours and they hit you with it: the after-the-fact-advice.

It comes in the form of a very subtle “I told you so” or an “I always thought…” and your head starts to spin. You think back to the aforementioned time in your life, and you try to comb through every instance in which your friend offered you wisdom or advice.

And just as you thought. There wasn’t a single one.

You heard things like this before:

“Yeah, maybe those bangs weren’t the best look for you.”

“I never did think you two were a good pair.”

“You know, I didn’t want to burst your bubble, but you did move a little fast.”

Ugh.

This happened to me recently while making some brief mention of an awful choice in boyfriends during my early years of university, and it got me thinking. Why do we do this? Sometimes our opinions and wisdom could be helpful, but it sure isn’t helpful months later. Why do we keep our mouths shut while the people around us are proverbially crashing and burning? And then, when all is said and done and our friends are picking up the pieces, then we offer our two cents? What are we so afraid of? We hold back what we truly feel in order to be accommodating. We hold back, because even though we think our opinion is correct. We’re afraid to create a ruckus. But really, there’s a better word for it.

Dishonest.

Whether our thoughts are correct or completely wrong, we have a responsibility to offer truth and wisdom to those we love. And we certainly have no right to offer such things after the fact. As soon as we open our mouths to offer our oh-so wise advice after the fact, we become high and mighty, insensitive, and unkind. Even if it happens to be about that time when I accidentally died my hair a patchy purple colour (which did actually happen, and on more than one occasion), it’s just not right. Essentially, it’s like complaining about who became mayor even though you didn’t vote.

So the next time you think of gracing your friend with your after-the-fact advice, please don’t. And of course, I’m talking to myself as well.

Engaged Before the Proposal

As a little girl, I spent a large chunk of my childhood dreaming of when I would get married. I loved Cinderella, and pictured myself in a large white dress walking down the isle to my own proverbial Prince Charming. But the fantasy wasn’t really about my Prince, per say, but about the grandeur and splendour the event promised. I could nearly hear the birds chirping and the bells ringing, and I was sure that my wedding would be nothing short of picture-perfect.

As a grown woman, I’ve spent even more time trying to forget and do away with all my lofty, fluffy dreams. Strange, you might think, but I have good reasons. Not only have I grown out of my childish tastes (no poofy white dress for me, thank you very much), but I’ve also realized that marriage is not what we often make it out to be. It’s not simply an event, a party, or an occasion to spend ridiculous amounts of money. It’s celebrating something much deeper, and much more sacred. Girls spend hours hunting through Pinterest in order to create the perfect idea of what they want, when, to be honest, it really doesn’t matter. You can plan and organize and create the ideal party, but it’ll be over in less than 8 hours. A wedding is one day in a story that will (or should) go on for the rest of your natural born life. Yet we weigh down the scale with our concerns and care for the day, and forget about the lengthy marriage that will follow. We’re lopsided. Willfully.

Putting this danger aside, we have yet another to contend with. We see this all the time with our friends, family, and even with ourselves. Christians are especially bad for this. Fully aware of the flack I may get, here it is : I think we are almost a little too intentional with our dating relationships, or at least too soon.

Before you all write me off as some non-committal hippy, hear me out. I think our culture has trained us to be outspoken and forward with our hopes and expectations for relationships. We meet someone, finally woo them, and declare our undying love before we even know their middle name. And this is all in the name of being intentional, or purposeful, or responsible. While all of these things are good and honourable, I think we’ve gone a little overboard. How many couples do you know who start dating and are completely enamoured with each other, and within a month or so they’re planning to get married? How many of us have been in that relationship? Where things go so fast from the get-go and all of the sudden you’re whisked away by someone else’s expecations? I know I’ve been in that relationship before, and it taught me a couple major lessons.

While I’m all for being up-front and honest, I think there is a time and a place for everything. I think, like Solomon, that there are wise times to say things and unwise times to say things. Even though we may feel an emotion, it might be wise to keep it to ourselves, before sharing it with our significant other. Having someone tell you they want to marry you while you’re on your first date is probably pretty unwise on their part. Not only does that communicate immaturity, but it also puts a level of expectation on the relationship that is far above what the relationship can handle. While it’s all fine and good to feel that way, maybe these are things we ought to be saying with our inside-voices. Sometimes it’s better to keep things close to the chest until our relationships are developed and we’re really sure.

I say this while being completely guilty on all accounts. I’ve found myself in this weird, limbo stage before. Someone communicates their desires to marry you a little too early, and suddenly you’re right there, on the bandwagon, dreaming of your future life. You automatically skip dating, and in your mind you’re engaged without the proposal. All you need is the ring and you’re set– everything else is planned out in your head. You see the other person as your partner. You have expectations that couples shouldn’t have when they’re just dating. You plan your life around someone who hasn’t truly offered you that level of commitment yet. And trust me, it’s all the more devastating when you realize your significant other wasn’t actually in a position to promise you the world. Things went too fast, and now you have a pile of snotty Kleenex and torn-up love letters to deal with.

All of this is to say, we shouldn’t treat marriage as the be-all and end-all of our lives. It’ll happen if it’s supposed to and in it’s own time. Until then, we shouldn’t fantasize and idolize. Marriage is not about a wedding day. Not only that, but we should take the pressure off our relationships and keep certain things to ourselves for a while. If you fall madly in love with someone on the first date, great, but maybe keep that locked away until the right time. Make sure you’re sure, and when you are, make sure again. Remember that our words are powerful, and we can put unreasonable expectations on relationships that could end up destroying it. And think of how much healthier a relationship would be if we allowed it to evolve and grow on it’s own, rather than rushing it along?

I’m telling you, friends, it’ll be worth waiting for. No need to hurry.

How to Make Sure Your Barista Loves You

As many of you know, I am a complete coffee snob. I love independent cafes, fresh tamped espresso, and the smell of steamed milk. I love coffee so much that I work with it for a living. I currently hold the position of head barista at SPoT Coffee in downtown Toronto, a stone’s throw from the Roger’s Centre. I see people from all walks of life coming into the cafe and I honestly adore serving them. I’ve made lattes for professional baseball players. web designers, and actors, and it’s a rewarding experience. We also reach out to our local community by donating to organizations who work with the homeless. My co-workers and I spend our mornings with some of the greatest people. Our regulars come in early before their day’s work to talk to us over coffee. We hear about their lives, we laugh together, and I’ve made some pretty great connections with people who live in the neighbourhood. I can safely say that I genuinely love my job.

That being said, it has it’s share of frustrations. There are little things that customers don’t usually notice that actually make our jobs considerably more difficult. This might be easy to dismiss if it weren’t an overwhelming pandemic in the cafe world. If you’ve worked in a cafe, you’ll understand. And if you’re a mindful customer, you notice when the patron in front of you is inflicted with this syndrome. So here I am, giving you a list of things you may or may not notice when you’re buying your skinny half-sweet split latte, to help you win the love and adoration of your local barista.

1. Wait to Order Your Drink if You’re on the Phone.

I get it. You’re walking to work or in the middle of talking to your mom and you’re just jones-ing for a chai latte. So you stick your iPhone between your cheek and your shoulder and try to order. Or you’re texting your boyfriend about dinner plans instead of talking to who’s in front of you. I think it’s safe to say this is one of the barista’s biggest pet peeves. First, you’re not even making eye contact with the person you’re ordering from, and we both know your phone isn’t going to make your latte for you. Secondly, we like to give you more than just a cup of coffee. For people like me who work in the service industry, we LIKE working with people. The smile, the genuine interest in how your day is going, and the help we can offer you is included in the price of your 5 dollar drink. Also, it’s just common courtesy. So next time you get a phone call in the middle of the line, just take a second to finish up your call. We understand. And we’re rather happy to wait.

2. Hot Coffee and Garbage Does Not MIx

Pouring your coffee in the garbage can result in a melted bag, full of holes, which then leaks out coffee/trash sludge that ends up all over the floor and my jeans. Please for the love of Pete, whoever Pete is, just ask us to give you some more room in your cup, and you’ll be on your way. We don’t bite!

3. Wait Your Turn

Often we forget to order everything we wanted when we get to the cash. Somewhere between skinny vanilla and extra-hot no-foam, we forget to ask for that glass of water to wash it all down with. So we go back to the front of the line and shout to the barista while she’s in the middle of helping another guest, to get that glass of water. However, you’ve just thrown off the order she’s working on, interrupted the person who waited just as long as you, and chances are you’re still going to have to wait for that water. I know it sucks, but you have to queue up like everyone else.

4. Know Where You Are

I luckily do not work at Starbucks or Timmies, and we don’t have frappacino’s or french vanilla’s. However, we do have a massive menu of delicious drinks that we’d be more than happy to make for you!

5. Remember What You Ordered

This is actually a really common issue. It’s like we get amnesia between the register and the bar and all of the sudden we’re taking Bob’s Tall Mocha instead of the tea we ordered. Then people get upset that their drink is gone. Then we have to remake it. Then we have to dump things out. Then we’re behind by three chits and everyone is left waiting longer than necessary. Just remember, if I call out a large coffee and you ordered tea, it’s not your drink. But I can assure you yours is on the way!

6. The Hutch

This is the last one before I sign off for the evening, and it’s a big one. The hutch. The stand. Whatever your local cafe call’s it. It’s the thing with the milk pitchers and the sugar packages on it, where you can dress up your americano in whatever way you please. Please, please pleaseeeeeee read this part closely. Sugar and cream doesn’t not belong all over the hutch. When you spill cream and sugar, we provide napkins so you can clean up after yourself. I know it may seem small, but it shows that you respect the person coming in behind you, as well as your barista. We have to clean up after ourselves at home, so we should do it in public too, right?

Anyways, these are just a few helpful tricks to ensure that you’re barista’s adore you. Use these tips and you’ll be sure to become their favourite. We love serving you, and we love even more when you respect our jobs. We want to make every guest feel comfortable and at home, and we need everyone to do their part. All this being said, thank you for loving coffee just as much as we do! On behalf of barista’s everywhere, we look forward to making you your next cappuccino! We’ll even try our best to make your day a little bit brighter.

Until next time,

Lena