Yup, I'm back. Please enjoy!
"Alright, girls! This is it! You all have been working hard and long and the moment you have been waiting for has finally arrived!"
Five of the six girls stood in a line in the middle of the coffee shop. All of them had their aprons on, notepads and gloves at the ready in their pockets and pens clipped to the top of their aprons. Catherine was marching in front of them, a whistle and timer hung around her neck and a ruler and clipboard firmly in her grasp. It was not even light outside since it was three in the morning.
"You girls have been preparing for months and training hard but now the moment has arrived! Are you girls ready for the fifth annual Barista Olympics?!"
"Sir, yes sir," the girls all yelled in unison!
"That's what I like to hear!" Catherine stopped in front of the girls and glared at them one by one. "Any one of you could take home the gold today! It could be newcomer and first time Olympian Katherine Howard! Or it could be last year's champion and two-time gold medal winner Anna Cleves! Whoever gets the gold takes home one hundred dollars cash, a fifty dollar gift card to the plant store across the street, and full claim over the only parking spot in the shade at 6 o' clock in the afternoon!"
All of the girls swooned over the idea of a parking spot that was completely in the shade at 6 when they got out! The car would barely even be hot. Anna had been enjoying the benefits of that spot for a whole year and apparently it was glorious.
"You all have had a double shot to wake you up and have your tools, a notepad, pen, and gloves at the ready. We have five categories: Order taking, drink making, sandwich building, money counting, and dish washing! We will be doing rotations just like every year! Catie, you're starting on order taking. Kat, you're on drinks first. Anna, head to the food counter, you'll be starting with sandwich building. Jane, you'll be counting the cash. And Anne, you're doing the dishes first. Then when the time is up, I'll judge your progress and your results and I'll give it a score of one to five. May I remind you that this scoring system was created five years ago, and has been revised and approved every year since. You all gave your clearance on the scoring system so there is nothing foul at play. Your score is your score."
The girls all nodded.
"Whoever has the highest score at the end of the rotations wins! Whoever has the lowest loses. And, as agreed upon this year, loser has to lick the weird spot on the shelf under the register. You all signed the waiver right?"
The girls all nodded. It was win or lose, and losing just wasn't an option. That stain had been there for three months now.
"To your stations, ladies!"
The girls all hustled to their areas. Catherine got her timer out and got ready to hit the start button.
"On your mark. Get set. Go!"
Anne had gone two rounds now and was currently on drinks. She had ten minutes to make as many of the predetermined drinks as possible. She had a list and she could do whichever ones she wanted in whatever order she wanted. Catherine would then test temperature and take one sip to make sure that everything was right. The only issue was that every cup had some sort of extra instruction on it. There was no plain mocha. Instead it was a mocha with an extra shot, oat milk, and caramel drizzle in the cup.
And it was confusing the hell out of Anne. She quickly determined that speed would be better than perfect efficiency, opting to make as many drinks as possible, versus getting the perfect amount of whip cream or drizzle. She was two minutes away from the end of this round when her hand, while moving too quickly, accidentally knocked two drinks over, spilling one and disrupting the layers of the other.
"Shoot," she exclaimed! She could keep the caramel macchiato with the messed up layering but the white chocolate iced coffee had to be scrapped. "Just keep going," Anne told herself, but the mess from the iced coffee was messing up the presentation of her other drinks, something she would get points knocked off for.
"Having trouble over there Anne," Kat mocked playfully from the register where she was counting a stack of ones. Anne grumbled.
"Not as much trouble as you're gonna have when that comment makes you forget what number you're on," Anne fired back. Kat stopped mid count and gazed at the cash in her hand.
"Son of a-"
Anne cackled. This round was a total failure but at least she could drag Kat down with her.
Jane was scrubbing coffee pot as quickly as she could. Each contestant that washed dishes had to was one coffee pot, six breakfast plates and six lunch plates, two serrated knives, ten forks and ten spoons, ten tupperware containers and their lids, and five bowls. Each dish had to be thoroughly cleaned, soaked in sanitizer water for twenty seconds, at least, and then put up to dry for it to count. Each dish had a number of points associated with it and the number would be tallied up at the end.
Jane's strategy was to go back and forth washing a large point dish and multiple smaller point dishes. She had made a sizeable dent into the pile of dishes next to her and she was pretty confident that she had this round in the bag. But then something sparkly caught her eye and before she could do anything, she saw one of her earrings plummeting towards the drain. In shock, she dropped the coffee pot, grabbing the attention of Catherine and quickly dove to catch the earring. Sadly, she was a little too slow and, after picking the coffee pot up off the ground, she resorted to using a spoon to try and fish her earring out.
It was in vain and not only did she lose her earring, she also spent the rest of her time on the round trying to retrieve it. Plus, dropping a dish as fragile as the coffee pot, according to Catherine and the rules they agreed upon, was a sure fire way to lose points very quickly. Needless to say, she did not have it in the bag.
Anna whipped out her notepad and pen as soon as Catherine gave her the signal. They had set up a machine to give fake orders in the span of ten minutes and as soon as the time was up, the machine would reset so every contestant got the same orders in the same way they appeared for the last person.
Anna focused on getting the orders down onto the paper, using as many abbreviations that the rules allowed. Bacon, egg and cheese became BEC. Caramel macchiato became CM. Iced coffee became IC.
Anna scribbled as much down as quickly as she could. She honestly wasn't that worried about the competition. She had won two out of the four times the had done this before. The only other winners being Catie the first year and Jane the third year. Kat was new to the Barista Olympics, so Anna wasn't super worried about her. Although she did show some promise on the drink machine. An experienced Olympian like herself knew that the points really could rack up in the dish washing round and the drink making round.
But Anna knew that she couldn't bank on those for another gold medal. That was why she was taking the orders down so fast.
"And, time," Catherine announced. She traveled one by one around the stations, checking, measuring, and tallying. Finally she came to Anna's table.
"Alright, Anna. How many did you write up?"
"All of them," Anna boasted. She watched as the jaws of the other girls dropped. Catherine simply raised an eyebrow.
"All of them? Let me check."
Anna handed Catherine the notepad smugly, crossing her arms in triumph. This would get her a solid ten points, exactly what she needed to get ahead of the competition. Anna was giving herself such a big head that she didn't notice Catherine's face get dark as she looked at the orders.
"You do know that the orders all have to be legible to earn any points, right?"
Anna's eyes flung open and she quickly looked at the notepad in Catherine's hands. She had been so focused on getting the orders down that she hadn't realized that she had written every order on the same line. There was just one line of ink going across her paper and even she couldn't pick out a single word from another.
"I'm going to have to put zero points down for this," Catherine mumbled. Anna raised her fists to the sky and let out a long "Noooooooo" that woke up the people down the street.
Catie fumbled with the cash in her hand, trying her hardest to block out all of the noise around her so that she wouldn't lose her place. She had heard what had happened to Kat in the last round and she couldn't risk a blunder like that. The spot really did look nasty.
"Two, four, six, eight..."
Catie was going through the ones at a breakneck pace, quickly discovering that if she grouped them in twos then she could make twice the progress in half the time. All of a sudden though, Catie spotted one of the Washingtons staring up at her and she knew she was going to lose. There on the face of George Washington was scribbled a clown afro, buck teeth and glasses. And Catie couldn't help herself.
She started laughing, and she was laughing loudly. She doubled over, giggling and chortling so hard at the defacing of the one dollar bill to the point of tears. She could barely breathe, much less continue to count. So when time was up and Catherine came up to ask her how much money was in the drawer, Catherine could only wheeze out her answer between laughs.
Kat was sure that she could win. The sandwich in front of her was almost perfect. Forget the incident at the register. The sandwich was gorgeous. The bagel it rested on was perfectly toasted, the bacon and egg were just the right amount of well done and the entire sandwich was so straight and gorgeously aligned, it looked fake.
Kat was just placing the top half of the bagel onto the rest of the sandwich when she saw it. A spider.
Kat flung the sandwich into the air behind her and it landed smack on the floor, falling apart instantly. Upon Catherine's inspection of the sandwich, it was not a spider, just a poppy seed that rolled out of place on the bagel.
Surprisingly, Kat still earned one point for that round. Because gosh darnnit that toasting was just way too even.
"Alright, girls! The results are in!"
The girls all stood back in their perfect line, Catherine in front of them ready to read the scores.
"As per usual, we will start with the winner and make our way down." Every one was shaking in anticipation. "In first place, with twenty-three points, we have... Jane Seymour! Securing her second gold medal!"
Jane jumped two feet into the air with a squeal, receiving a fist bump from Catie.
"Congrats, Jane, you have won one hundred dollars, a fifty dollar gift card to the plant store across the street, and the coveted parking spot in the shade. Not to mention your second gold medal! Moving on. In second place, with twenty points... Anne Bolyn!"
Anne let out a sigh of relief. No weird stain licking for her.
"I'll win next year," Anne promised Jane who grinned back.
"You better girly! This is your second year at second place."
"In third place with a close eighteen points, Catherine Parr!"
"I was sure I was a goner."
Anna and Kat shared a worried look. One of them was going to lick the stain. And one of them had a sinking feeling it was going to be them.
"In fourth place with fifteen points..." Catherine held out for an unbearable amount of time... "Katherine Howard!"
The young girl felt so much relief course through her.
"I about expected as much from my first year," she admitted. All of the girls looked expectantly at Anna.
"And in last place with ten points... Anna Cleves."
The silence hung in the air. Anna slowly pulled her phone out and opened up Snapchat.
"You know the rules, Anna."
"Yes, yes I do."
By now, it was almost five o' clock and one brand new customer walked up to the coffee shop to see if it was open, as it was almost five o' clock now. They quickly turned around when they saw a group of five girls with their phones all angled down, seemingly recording something while chanting "lick it, lick it, lick it" over and over again.