This is a special section of the 12 Angry Men Blog where we celebrate the best Troll to be found anywhere that week. While there are many varieties of troll, ranging from the fuzzy-haired dashboard decorations to the waylayer of the Billy Goats Gruff, we enjoy a well-executed jabbing that leaves an adversary stammering for a response. Any moron can produce a flame—mere sewage dumped upon the city square—but to produce a good Troll is a work worthy of the celebration of men.
The Troll of the Week segment will be written frequently enough to be termed “periodic”, but the actual label “of the week” is merely idealistic ambition, and it is not to be taken seriously.
Our inaugural Troll of the Week set the bar high, and it has been exceedingly difficult to find company worthy of it. But we’ve soldiered on and found a few. Usually solitary but sometimes, as now feeding off one another. Every troll desires attention, of course, but sometimes the attention desired is that of a particular individual, one who has (the troll feels) wronged him in some deep and fundamental way. This is amusing enough when it involves serious matter, but when the deep and terrible wrong is over something truly trivial, like a cup of expresso, well, much like losing an eye, then it’s hilarious.
Context and Execution of Trolls:
On July 13th, Jeff Simmermon (who will live up to his name) walked into Murky Coffee (which presumably lives up to its name) in Arlington, VA. His goal was a simple one: enjoy some coffee, some free WiFi, and the ambiance of a coffee shop while waiting for his girlfriend. A simple dream, and one that a high-class coffee palace like Murky Coffee would be happy to fulfill—or so you’d think. But soon an ugly problem reared its head, for, you see, Jeff wanted a triple expresso over ice (horrors)! Yes, that’s right, he wanted the highly trained and deeply passionate barista to go to all the work of producing three cups of perfect expresso and then dump it over ice. Naturally, the barista complained:
And the guy at the counter looked me in the eye with a straight face and said “I’m sorry, we can’t serve iced espresso here. It’s against our policy.”
Jeff’s reaction was, perhaps, all to familiar to some of us:
The whole world turned brown and chunky for a second. Flecks of corn floated past my pupils, and it took me a second to blink it all away.
“Okay,” I said, “I’ll have a triple espresso and a cup of ice, please.”
After that, the whole tawdry drama played itself out:
He rolled his eyes and rang it up, took my money, gave me change. I stood there and waited. Then the barista called me over to the bar. I reached for it, and he leaned over and locked his eyes with mine, saying “Hey man. What you’re about to do … that’s really, really Not Okay.”
I could hear the capital letters in his voice, could see the gravity of the situation in his eyes.
He continued: “This is our store policy, to preserve the integrity of the coffee. It’s about the quality of the drink, and diluting the espresso is really not cool with us. So I mean, you’re going to do what you’re going to do, and I can’t stop you, but”
First Troll, complete. A customer, eager to exchange money for goods and services, is met not with service or understanding but with condescension and accusations of gross immorality. The first cup’s raised to you, David the Barista!
Not to be outdone, however, Jeff was quick to reply and meet Troll with Troll:
I interrupted. “You’re goddamned right you can’t stop me,” I said. “I happen to have a personal policy that prohibits me from indulging stupid bullshit like this — and another personal policy of doing what I want with the products I pay for.” Then I looked him right in his big wide eyes and poured the espresso onto the ice.
Now, that might have been the end of it (since David didn’t rise to the occasion and punch Jeff in the face or anything). But, true Troll that he is, Jeff couldn’t leave it there. He headed back up to the register and confronted his nemesis once again:
“I would like the strongest iced beverage your policy will allow,” I said.
“How about an Americano with four shots and light on the water” asked the barista.
I’d never had one before — so I said, “sure.”
Then he turned around and filled up a plastic cup with ice, filled it 3/4 of the way with water and carefully added four shots of espresso. He stirred it gravely and handed it to me, saying “enjoy.” And you know what? I really did. You’ve got to admire someone’s dedication to craft, and rigid adherence to a strict quality control policy. I was really, really impressed. So impressed that I swallowed my rage like so much cold coffee, opened up my wallet, and left a tip in the tip jar.
Jeff’s tip, of course, was his masterwork:
It was that tip, perhaps, that turned what was already a fine Double Header into a Triple Play. For not only were armchair baristas and amateur consumer advocates across the Internet now lining up behind Jeff or David, but Nick Cho, the owner of Murky Coffee, literally The Man whose word was law for David, threw his hat into the ring, issuing a truly professional, well-reasoned, and temperate letter.
We could try to sum things up, but I really think that Nick’s words speak for themselves as no one else’s could:
I suppose some sort of two-cents is warranted here.
Okay, we don’t do espresso over ice. Why? Number one, because we don’t do it. Number two, because we don’t do it. Mostly for quality reasons. Also, because more than half the time, it’s abused (Google “ghetto latte”).
David, the barista in question, is respectful, passionate, and cares about making good coffee, and he cares about murky’s policies. Nobody’s perfect, and maybe David could have chosen different words or a slightly different tack in responding to Jeff Simmermon’s request. But that’s life. At murky, we try to treat people with common courtesy, and expect the same from our customers.
To Mr. Simmermon, you overplayed your hand with your vulgar tip-schtick. While I certainly won’t bemoan you your right to free-speech, I have to respond to you in your own dialect: F*@k you, Jeff Simmermon. Considering your public threat of arson, you’ll understand when I say that if you ever show your face at my shop, I’ll punch you in your dick.
Owner, murky coffee
Way to elevate the dialog, Nick! Well Trolled, sir, well Trolled.
For their combined efforts showing off the promise of Web 2.0 to replace not only infomercials, conspiracy shows, and Prime Time television, but daytime TV as well, we award co-Trolls of the Week to Nick Cho, Jeff Simmermon, and the unsung David the Barista! As always they will receive an honorary beer at the Man Lunch, but after lunch, if they’d like, we’d be happy to take them to our local snooty coffeeshop and offer them each the coffee beverage of their choice…even if that choice is expresso over ice—crema be damned!
(NOTE: In case you’re wondering why our first Murky Coffee link was a link to a response to an update to Nick’s letter instead of their main page…that is their main page. ‘Nuff Said!)
(SECOND NOTE: Some might argue that one or more of these Trolls are really candidates for Douche of the Week. That is debatable, of course, but we prefer to think more kindly of them. Remember the rule: a Douche is oblivious, a Troll knows he’s Trolling. Of course, sometimes it can be darn hard to tell, and nothing screams Douchery like a botched attempt at Trollery. We prefer to think that each and every one of these fine folks realized his actions were, perhaps, just a bit, slightly, over-the-top—but they just couldn’t stop themselves. Always a problem, as true Trolls everywhere know all too well!)