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A conversation with the barista that had my order wrong.

This morning I went to a local coffee shop in my motherland. I speak the language but sometimes get mixed up with words I don't understand.

Anyway, I was looking to eat some breakfast and just saw a picture of pasta outside.

I come inside and order Americano and pasta.

At first, an obviously new worker is taking my order with his co-worker helping out.

They confirm I want X and ask if 15 minute is okay.


My order comes out and instead of pasta, they give me pretzsel bread.

Me: "Uh excuse me I ordered Pasta"

Girl-Worker: "No, when I asked you to confirm 'original pretzel', you said yes'

(In this case I didn't clearly hear what she said when I was ordering and just assume she said pasta')

Me: "I thought you said 'original pasta'

Girl-Worker: "We don't have 'original pastas'"


At this point the price isn't really a big deal so it's only 2-3 usd.

Me: The pretzel is fine. But I want some pasta.

Her: We don't serve pastas until lunch.

Me: "ALright no problem"


I'm not sure why but this still rubs me the wrong way. I thought about how I should've responded.

Even though it was cheap, I feel like I should've pushed this cause she wasn't being exactly pleasant.

I was thinking along the lines of

"You heard Pretzel when I said Pasta, I would just like a refund please"


How to handle this properly? As I said I'm a english speaker, and back in my motherland for vacation so sometimes I don't understand certain words and have a habit of just agreeing or saying yes to just keep the convo moving.

John Freeman and Bel have reacted to this post.
John FreemanBel

If you felt something was "not cool", chances are you were right.

I personally wouldn't have used this though:

Quote from jlee830 on May 30, 2023, 6:36 pm

"You heard Pretzel when I said Pasta, I would just like a refund please"

Personally I find this type of "assertiveness" aggressive and uncooperative.

And more likely to make people dislike you, oppose you, and lead to escalations.

What do you have to gain from starting off with "you + accusation"?

Much better:

You: Yeah, look, I can understand that one can misunderstand, just rest assured I said "pasta" because "pasta" is exactly what I'm craving (smile). Anyway, no worries, but that means I'll need to find a past somewhere else. Could you please refund the... (choose if you want refund for both pretzel or also give back the coffee)

As you say it, gesticulate as if to say, "it's all good".

It's also possible to go "softer" / more power protecting with "would you be OK with a refund please".

As usual, that you start softer doesn't mean that you accept the first no and that you stay "soft".

The more they reject you, the more assertive you become, until you may tell them something like "look, I ordered a pasta, you got me a pretzel. I'm a customer, and the esbtalishment got it wrong. Please give me back what I gave you without getting what I wantead, so so that I can go what I want, or I'll have to look at other ways how to get what I want".

Then you tell them you'll do it through your credit card, or you'll leave a review, etc.

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John FreemanJackMats GBeljlee830Power Duck
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I really appreciate you @lucio.

Other people would have said to just move on and not worry about small things.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Sure thing, and thank you for the thank you jlee!

By the way, about this:


Quote from jlee830 on May 31, 2023, 10:00 am

Other people would have said to just move on and not worry about small things.

SOMETIMES that can be good advice.

But it's mostly only good advcie when you'd be able to handle it anyway.

THEN you can say "fuck it, not worth it" (not before).

But sometimes people say 'just move on" to:

  • Justify their own life ineffectiveness, so they feel better about themselves
  • Manipulate others to be "nicer" to lower life's competition (it's useless in society of millions, but people still default back to manipulation they evolved in smaller tribes)
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John FreemanJackBeljlee830Power Duck
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I like that you make the distinction between aggressive assertiveness, and soft or cooperative assertiveness.

Because when starting practising assertiveness, or in a very uncomfortable situation, it is easy to go too aggressive.

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Lucio BuffalmanoBelPower Duck

Yes, that's true, I think overdoing the aggression/dominance/"roughness" maybe one of the most common starting points.

And it maybe one of the reasons why many find it so difficult, while in truth it could be both easier and more effective, even for beginners.

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Hello Jack,

I don't have anything to add regarding the dynamics. The diplomatic route is what works best in this case I agree. I want to comment on letting go depends on how you feel emotionally inside I think. The situation is of a honest misunderstanding from both side (I'm assuming):

Case A (your case)

You really wanted some pasta, don't want a pretzel, are disappointed, other guy is confrontational.

Well, here the other guy is not helping with the disappointment with his lack of empathy. So it's totally normal to feel that the social situation is not right and wanting the social exchange to be fair for you. At least trying to make it fair for you is good for your self-esteem. When we feel we've been mistreated in some way, just the fact to fight back gives us back our self-esteem I think. Even if we "lose", that is not getting what we want. We cannot always win but we can fight when it's not right.

For instance, today a blind guy was sticking to my open car's door in the street in front of my building. I said: "there is a door" in an attempt to help him overpass it. He starts a conflict about me not being allowed to park here. I just parked there to load some stuff out from my appartment for 5 minutes in the car to bring them to the waste facility. It's allowed. He escalates right away threatening to call the cops. I say he can call the cops if he wants. He said lowering the escalation: "so it's a quick pickup?" (allowed in Switzerland). I say yes. He says: "so I can come back later and you won't be there". I say: "do whatever you want". He says: "good bye or rather farewell". Basically an old crazy semi-blind guy who wanted to start a conflict/power moves by trying to stick to the rules when I was in the right. He could have started to ask if I was going to stay long or whatever. And still it's not even his business, he started the conflict probably because he's generally pissed off in life and looks for ways to get out his negativity. Anyway, this whole story to give an example where:

  1. I was wondering what was happening
  2. I felt bad when he accused me of doing something wrong (was I abusing this old blind man rights?)
  3. I felt good again when I fought for myself.

What I mean is that when we feel something does not feel right for us, I think it's a signal for us not to let it slide.

Case B 

You really wanted some pasta are disappointed but a pretzel is ok for you. Then in this case it's easier to let go because it's really not important for you.

Just to be clear, if I would be in your case I would definitely be disappointed to get a pretzel instead of pasta.

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