I was a barista at one of those Big Coffee Shops for four years. The location I worked at was in the middle of an affluent mall. The majority of our regulars were people who worked in the stores in the mall, but we did have some traffic from the offices nearby.
There was one regular I couldn't stand. He was always incredibly rude. Just flat out mean when he'd come to the counter. I think he was an attorney; I never asked. He'd sneer and say "tall drip", throw his exact change on the counter, and we'd hand his crabby ass his coffee. He'd check to make sure that we didn't leave any room in the cup (!!!), sneer, and leave. He did this to us for years.
I was in my twenties, reckless and experimenting. One night, a friend of mine asked if I wanted to go to a fetish party with her. It was the nineties, when fetish parties were more of an excuse to go out in public and less of a reason to go and explore your fetishes, so I told her I'd go.
The party was held in a building that I had driven by a million times before, but never knew that there was a club in it. The scene was pretty much what I had expected: dark, lots of shiny vinyl pants and electrical tape over nipples. We ran into some people we knew, so we hung out, talking and drinking.
Over in one corner of the room, there was a space set up for spankings. There was a leather kind of ottoman thing that the woman would bend over, and the guy would then flog her with various paddles and whips. There was something familiar about the tall, gruff figure, currently flogging a longhaired blonde lady who was clearly wearing a wig.
I moved closer, only to see why the flogging dude was so familiar: it was tall drip guy. The lady in the wig was a dark haired lady who worked at one of the makeup counters at Kaufmann's.
Since I am a woman of wonderful luck, I made eye contact with tall drip guy, and I almost immediately took off for the other side of the room. What do you say in those situations? I'll tell you what I said. Not a damn thing.
His attitude didn't get any better on his subsequent visits to my coffee kiosk, but he did finally start tipping. And when you work somewhere with tips, that's a total victory.
Vanilla latte lady from the department store sent her coworker to get her drinks for a while, but eventually came back to get her drinks. I never let on that I saw anything, or was there.
But I knew. And shit, over twenty years later, I still remember that shit.