Until I finally got a full time gig as a game designer, I had a succession of shitty retail jobs. My first job was at a department store in Danvers, MA called Ann & Hope. That was also the first time I got fired. Years later in NYC I spent about four years working for the Porto Rico Importing Company, first at the original Bleeker St. location and then at the St. Mark’s store. Porto Rico was an old school Italian coffee importer dating back to 1907. The business was mostly selling beans, but the St. Mark’s store also had a espresso bar. I learned a lot about coffee working there, but retail in NYC is nothing if not unpredictable. One day I’m selling chocolate covered espresso beans to Dee Dee Ramone and the next I’m having to kick out the heroin junky who comes in periodically to harass the customers.
One day I was chilling out during a lull when a unassuming guy walked in. He looked over the many burlap bags of beans and then asked, “Which one of these is best for my enema?”
I laughed, assuming he was joking. “Well, I guess you want something low in acid, so it doesn’t burn your insides.”
He looked at me coldly. “I’m serious,” he said,
“Oh,” I replied, stunned. “Well, in that case I suggest you get this week’s sale coffee. It’s only $2.99 a pound and it should do the job.”
I thought that would be it, but no. He began asking me questions about the qualities of the different beans. I answered his queries for a good five minutes, all the while thinking, “Just buy the cheap one, you’re going to be putting this up your ass!”
Eventually, he decided to go with a coffee that was $7.99/pound instead. I never saw that guy again, so I don’t know how it went for him. And I’m totally OK with that.