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rathowreck avatar 2:45 AM on 11.13.2012  (server time)
Barista Gamer Blues

I am not a suitable fit for my occupation. As a barista, I'm supposed to care about conversation more than cleanliness or even coffee. It was a struggle to adapt to this sort of work having only one job prior, and even then I was only operating a cash register for a couple of months.

It's a neighborhood environment where friendliness is mega-encouraged, and yet the spark for me to care about such a thing has yet to ever really ignite. I've only ever dealt with drunks and blue collar suburban middle aged men before this. I had zero interest in their lives but plenty in the method by which I could swiftly and politely move them away from my life. That is, give them what they wanted so they would go away. Not the best customer service attitude to carry over into a situation that promotes the opposite, but I'm just not meant for that sort of thing. I just want dat $ until I find a better skin to wear.

However, I know what I like. And I like video games. I like 'em hard. What is usually stilted, awkward conversation between myself and people I either do not care for or simply have little interest in knowing, there are the occasional and rare beacons of GAMER NERD to gleefully converse with.

Now, depending on the situation outright labels can be damaging. They can further separate a wonderful thing that everyone should be able to enjoy into something intimidating, stigmatic, or even frightening. Being a flaming f*ggot for example. D*cks are great but gosh darn I betcha there are just a couple bros in the south who almost typed in "c*ck frot" into their local p*rn search bar but in their fearful haze recalled how overt 'fairies' and 'sissies' in their environment are treated and stopped themselves. Therefore I believe the 'gamer' label, as long as it's played cool and casual, is acceptable as shit. Pride is one thing, but as long as you can show the unfortunately sheltered, cringing masses that a gamer or a gay person can be just as much of a boring-as-hell and passionless "normal" as them, they may not be so quick to dismiss, or worse, decry it. It's a shitty world, brother.

I'll even reduce the title for the sake of this missive to just "gamer" simply because gamer nerds are hard enough to come by, let alone someone who regularly enjoys and feels no shame towards their playing of any sort of game, whether it's Madden, Angry Birds, or god damn Thomas Was Alone.

So these beacons, I mean people, are few and far between but gosh darn do I look out for them vehemently. Being a gamer is a large part of my identity. I revel and cherish the medium so wholeheartedly that I am bound to search out those in my local environment who feel the same way so that I can share my love with them and take in theirs.

My primary passion, as with most in my life, is one of unfortunately stout solitude. I can count on one hand the number of gamers, gay folks, furries, and anime nerds who existed in my life for a single year. Some years there were none at all.

So I saw an opportunity to reach out. I purchased gorgeously subtle shirts from Fangamer, and from there the effortless, endless conversation flowed. Customers of all types now banter with me about how I still have at least 20 more hours to go in Skyward Sword even though I'm 30 hours in already(!), how Scarecrow's segments in Arkham Asylum were probably the coolest damn parts of that game, and, astonishingly, how The Unfinished Swan and Hotline Miami exist and yes you should play both back-to-back.

These are the moments I've embraced as an and otherwise reserved, no bullshit, ultimately crappy coffee shop employee. They nourish my constantly waning faith in gaming as an all-inclusive medium and help me feel comfortable and welcome in a place I feel I otherwise do not belong in the long run.

Today I asked to exchange Xbox gamertags with a new found gamer customer and her husband. I gave her a hot cider with caramel and cinnamon and she gave me a receipt with two names written on the back: "Brian" and "Jess".

Oh well. I'll take what I can get.

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