working at center camp cafe.Why?

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working at center camp cafe.Why?

Postby Blue Jester » Wed May 18, 2005 1:30 pm

I find it odd that people actually work at the cafe for no monetary compensation. I know I know GET INVOLVED, but how could you spend your time working at a festival that you probly paid thousands of dollars to get to then work in a cafe that charges $3.00 for a crappy glass of lemonade. Not trying to "dis" people trying to help the community, but I would like to hear some peoples reasons why they worked at a coffee shop for free while people are making a fair amount of money off your toil. But maybe I am wrong. Maybe it is the best thing you could do at Burning Man, and I am a morron. Let me know.
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the reason is as obvious as the nose on your face

Postby Simply Joel » Wed May 18, 2005 1:50 pm

why work at burning man?

exclusivity, IMHO.
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Postby Badger » Wed May 18, 2005 2:25 pm

Not trying to "dis" people trying to help the community, but I would like to hear some peoples reasons why they worked at a coffee shop for free while people are making a fair amount of money off your toil.


Cites?
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Postby mo_corleone » Wed May 18, 2005 2:44 pm

actually, the cafe workers accept compensation in the form of tips. if anything, they're making more money than your average "service provider" on the playa.

i wonder why people work at the cafe too, but then again i don't have many positive things to say about the cafe beyond praise for the pretty structure.
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Postby theCryptofishist » Wed May 18, 2005 3:50 pm

Okay, here's the skivvy.

The money from the cafe goes to support the cafe as a center camp institution including the art and performance spaces. The PTB feel that having such a place provides a sort of transitional space for people who may not be bold enough to walk into a theme camp and start interacting to get there feet wet. (Note: this is not how they phrase it, it's my paraphrase.) It--like just about every thing else moneywise with the event--apperently breaks even.

It's been covered exaustively in other threads--hear's teh only liink I can find, but there was another that wen on for a simileir amount of time in late 2003.
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I'm not a fan of the cafe in ways, gifting coffee is so much more friendly. HOwever, my husband,one of the medics, likes being able to buy coffee. ESD personel and rangers are targeted for dosing, so he likes to get his coffee from a source that can be reasonably expected to be "clean" and may have some accountability.

There are lots of perspectives. People from this board have worked at the cafe. People I respect have worked at the cafe. I'm thinking that there's also a theme camp for cafe workers--which might be a nice way to be if you are new, don't have camp mates and don't want to camp alone, for whatever reason. It's a complicated issue, and I think we respect ourselves best by awknowledging that there is no easy answer for everyone. If you like, join Chai Guy's annual protest by helping him distribute free chai to the masses at center camp.

Also, I'm a cafe junkie in camp reality. I love my lattes. I hope I have other things to offer at BM, but if I knew how to pump essepresso, I might well have joined that team.
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Postby HughMungus » Wed May 18, 2005 4:05 pm

I thought BORG got the tips (not the workers).
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Postby theCryptofishist » Wed May 18, 2005 4:15 pm

As far as I know, no. Heck, I only tip my gifts anyway. CAfe workers have been known to insist on tips. If this happens to you, report them to the shift leader, cause they aint supposed to do that.
(cite--technopatra, a former "manager" there.)

And give them a big lecture about it not being the burning man way, because lectures about things not being the burning man way are a whole new art form open to everyone.
(it is not, however an interesting art form.)
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Postby EvilDustBooger » Wed May 18, 2005 4:52 pm

theCryptofishist wrote:. . . because lectures about things not being the burning man way are a whole new art form open to everyone.
(it is not, however an interesting art form.)


Very VERY Well Said .
Thanks . You positively nailed it.
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Postby HughMungus » Wed May 18, 2005 7:14 pm

Hell, I'll just ask them where the tips are going.

Then again, maybe they need gas money...hmm...charity is so hard....

theCryptofishist wrote:As far as I know, no. Heck, I only tip my gifts anyway. CAfe workers have been known to insist on tips. If this happens to you, report them to the shift leader, cause they aint supposed to do that.
(cite--technopatra, a former "manager" there.)

And give them a big lecture about it not being the burning man way, because lectures about things not being the burning man way are a whole new art form open to everyone.
(it is not, however an interesting art form.)
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Postby Davoid » Thu May 19, 2005 3:12 am

theCryptofishist wrote: The PTB feel that having such a place provides a sort of transitional space for people who may not be bold enough to walk into a theme camp and start interacting to get there feet wet.


That was probably the reason I hung out there so much as a virgin in 2001 (though free digeridoo lessons, an awesome throat singing performance, etc. etc. didn't hurt). My innate introversion was also the reason I volunteered to work there in 2002, to force myself to interact with hundreds of burners each time I was behind the counter. And damn, it was fun. I had great times with customers and coworkers alike, and indeed we pooled all the tips and each kept our share. The tips included not just cash (I think I made $18 one day, mostly used to buy coffee and ice later), but the usual range of small gifts, some unapproved by your local LEO. You may be surprised to learn that there was a "gift" button on the register, and that we occasionally bartered as well.

Part of the reason I'm not interested in volunteering there again has to do with the management style of one woman in particular. Don't remember her name, assume it wasn't you, Techno. There were several aspects to her shitty approach, but the one that disgusted me was how we were all reprimanded after one shift for not hustling for tips enough. Since we were splitting them between the register people, the barristas, and the supply gophers, the reg. people were supposed to work it more. We were actually "threatened" with not being able to work a future assigned shift, if she felt that meant that too many people would be splitting too meager a tip pool. WTF? Why are we here again?

There's other crap I could whine about, but won't. Instead I'll hand it to the organizers for putting it all together the way they do, and providing a center camp that must truly be a bitch to organize. I'll enjoy popping in after my 2-year BM hiatus, and hopefully my ex-boss has since had a successful assbugectomy, wherever she is.
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Postby EvilDustBooger » Thu May 19, 2005 6:37 am

Funny how 1 shitty person in a position of power can
really screw the pooch for everyone..........
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Postby theCryptofishist » Thu May 19, 2005 8:36 am

Davoid wrote:Part of the reason I'm not interested in volunteering there again has to do with the management style of one woman in particular. Don't remember her name, assume it wasn't you, Techno. There were several aspects to her shitty approach, but the one that disgusted me was how we were all reprimanded after one shift for not hustling for tips enough. Since we were splitting them between the register people, the barristas, and the supply gophers, the reg. people were supposed to work it more. We were actually "threatened" with not being able to work a future assigned shift, if she felt that meant that too many people would be splitting too meager a tip pool. WTF? Why are we here again?
Dang it, she shouldn't work there. If people wish to tip you, I'm willing to see it as a gift. Even if it's just a reflex action honed with years of experience in cafe sociaty. But insisting is just plain wrong.
I don't know to whom you would complain, but if you were to bring it up, I think action would be taken. That's your choice, of course, but it would be a gift to the rest of us. Perhaps this thread was started in part because someone the op (original poster) knew got hussled by the people in one of her shifts. MEaning--that this woman is STILL (potentially) doing damage 9 months later. And if they lose other good personell that's bad as well. Of course, maybe you'll find something better to do this year, so it could be great for you.
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Postby Chai Guy » Thu May 19, 2005 12:42 pm

Not trying to "dis" people trying to help the community, but I would like to hear some peoples reasons why they worked at a coffee shop for free while people are making a fair amount of money off your toil.


Cites?


Unfortunately there are no "cites", the LLC does not publish the profits from the cafe (interestingly enough they do publish the profits for the ice sales, which they donate to the local school system).

The LLC claims that the cafe "breaks even". This is because the profits of the cafe go help pay for the commissary for the volunteers (Rangers, DPW, etc.)

Personally, I would LOVE to own a business like the cafe, look at their advantages:

1. Free Rent! (paid for by the cost of your ticket to the BLM)
2. Free Labor (volunteer cafe workers)
3. No Competition! (It's agains the rules for anyone else to sell coffee!)
4. Captive audience of 30,000 people!
5. Prime Location! (It's not called "center camp" for nothin!)
6. Not hampered by "Leave no trace" ethos (You can leave your trash <cups> there)
7. Free Entertainment on several stages
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Postby tisha2 » Thu May 19, 2005 5:09 pm

wow....

i don't have much time, but let me do what i can quickly...

as the center camp cafe volunteer coordinator and cafe volunteer for 3 years, i can tell you that it is purely a blast to work in the cafe, and that is mainly why people do it. it's fun. period. and the positive side of what Joel said...inclusion. it's a great group of people to be involved with.

yes, sometimes there are tips. voluntary. and they go to the workers. i would love it, Davoid, if you would PM me and tell me more about that particular experience. it is very surprising to me, and is totally NOT how the place is generally run.

also, chai guy, the coffee sales income does NOT pay for the commissary...it pays for itself - the cafe equipment rental and maintenance, the supplies, and all of Center Camp - the furniture, the stages, the rigging, the sound/light systems, etc. NOBODY makes any PROFIT off that "business". Hundreds of people volunteer their time, money, and sweat to make it happen. just for the fun of it.

i have to run, and thanks Fishy for the good info and the pointer to this thread...there's a bloody mary with a worm in it on the bar for ya!

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Re: working at center camp cafe.Why?

Postby Elemental666 » Thu May 19, 2005 7:16 pm

Blue Jester wrote:I find it odd that people actually work at the cafe for no monetary compensation.


Another possible reason would be to support an event they love. For example, I volunteer my time to several groups in my area during the year. Local theather, garden clubs, boy scouts and a few others. Some of these group DO profit off my voluteer time. I don't mind because I am supporting something I think is good and needs to be done. This is what volunteerism is. I"m relying on the fact that I will be able to purchase ice from center camp and without the work of volunteers this would not be possible. I'm not volunteering for anything this year (because its my first) as I don't know how I"d like to volunteer yet. Rest assured I will be volunteering in some fashion, profit or no, next year. Mostly i do this because I believe in giving back.

just my 2 cents.
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Postby Chai Guy » Fri May 20, 2005 12:31 am

also, chai guy, the coffee sales income does NOT pay for the commissary...it pays for itself - the cafe equipment rental and maintenance, the supplies, and all of Center Camp - the furniture, the stages, the rigging, the sound/light systems, etc. NOBODY makes any PROFIT off that "business". Hundreds of people volunteer their time, money, and sweat to make it happen. just for the fun of it.


Hey Tisha2, I've been trying to find some documentation to prove or refute this statement for some time now.

I've gotten this from Technopatra:
viewtopic.php?t=2258&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=60
And I may be wrong, but I believe that the cafe also helps fund, perhaps totally funds, the Commissary - which feeds hundreds of hardworking volunteers throughout the event.


and I posted this in the same thread a while back, tell me what you think of these numbers:

viewtopic.php?t=2258&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=150
Here's something interesting-

http://www.bohemianmasquerade.com/greet ... statistics .htm

75,000 drinks sold (see link above) (please note for this year, not 2002 but I'm guessing that it's not much different year to year)

$108,000 Cost of Goods for the Ice and Café sales (not including buildings and staff) http://afterburn.burningman.com/02/financial_chart.html

(please note this is the 2002 report)


I don't know what the average cost of a drink was, I'm pretty sure the Chai Latte's were going for $3.00, am I right? Ok, let's say the average cost of a drink in the cafe was $2.00 (does this seem right?)
at 75,000 drinks that's $150,000 bucks!

And they don't make money???
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Postby Davoid » Fri May 20, 2005 12:54 am

tisha2 wrote:yes, sometimes there are tips. voluntary. and they go to the workers. i would love it, Davoid, if you would PM me and tell me more about that particular experience. it is very surprising to me, and is totally NOT how the place is generally run.


Shoulda mentioned that, after returning form the event in '02, I did indeed seek out a proper BMOrg channel to let 'em know what happened. I honestly forget who I traded e-mails with, and what the specific result was, but of course they were of a mind that this perhaps otherwise fine woman was misguided in her ways, and it would be looked into, and everything seemed cool. If I could remember any more than that, Tisha, I'd let you know. Of course I don't think that she reflected Center Camp Cafe culture on the whole.

Shoulda mentioned also that forcing myself out of a shell wasn't my only reason for volunteering there (though I thought it answered Blue Jester's original question), but like others have said, it was also to give back in a small way to the crazy beast that changed my life the year before.
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Postby HughMungus » Fri May 20, 2005 9:02 am

Chai Guy wrote:7. Free Entertainment on several stages


That was entertainment? I thought it was how they kept people from spending too much time there.
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Postby EvilDustBooger » Fri May 20, 2005 9:21 am

DallasPlaya wrote: I thought it was how they kept people from spending too much time there.


Hahahaha!! I hear you bro.

Although, I did see this one dude who knew all the zip codes, area codes, and little facts about just about everywhere on the globe....I was truly amazed at his recall functions....and thoroughly entertained....I wish I could remember his name and give him proper kudos.....
...but for the most part the atmosphere was a little too hectic and impatient....although 1 cold morning the cappuccinio really hit the spot...
..I tipped the sweet worker with one of my bead necklaces....I don`t think
she was ''expecting'' a tip, but she was very appreciative. If I saw any
rude behavior, it was from the other patrons being pissy about the long line...
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Postby tisha2 » Fri May 20, 2005 10:33 am

Chai Guy wrote:I've gotten this from Technopatra:
viewtopic.php?t=2258&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=60
And I may be wrong, but I believe that the cafe also helps fund, perhaps totally funds, the Commissary - which feeds hundreds of hardworking volunteers throughout the event.

hey kids...

i am using my wiles to track down some official information, but the official word at all cafe meetings where it has ever come up is a resounding NO PROFIT - IT PAYS FOR ITSELF. no, i personally haven't seen anything on paper, but i'm going to do my damnedest to change that...can't say anything about what techno said without knowing her sources. as far as i've ever know or been told, that is not the case.


Chai Guy wrote:and I posted this in the same thread a while back, tell me what you think of these numbers:

viewtopic.php?t=2258&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=150
Here's something interesting-

http://www.bohemianmasquerade.com/greet ... statistics .htm

75,000 drinks sold (see link above) (please note for this year, not 2002 but I'm guessing that it's not much different year to year)

$108,000 Cost of Goods for the Ice and Café sales (not including buildings and staff) http://afterburn.burningman.com/02/financial_chart.html

(please note this is the 2002 report)


I don't know what the average cost of a drink was, I'm pretty sure the Chai Latte's were going for $3.00, am I right? Ok, let's say the average cost of a drink in the cafe was $2.00 (does this seem right?)
at 75,000 drinks that's $150,000 bucks!

And they don't make money???


once again, it's not just paying for "Goods for the Ice and Café sales" but the ENTIRE STRUCTURE AND EVERYTHING IN IT.
knowing the cost of lumber and remembering just how much is used in that tent, not to mention fabric, cable, generators, gasoline, waste collectiona and removal....etc etc etc... seems to me, according to your numbers, the cafe would be lucky to break even...
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Postby tisha2 » Fri May 20, 2005 10:43 am

oh, and Davoid - i missed that you were talking about '02. We seemed to have a pretty swell team last year... i was told that there was some inappropriatness surrounding tipping back then, and it has been remedied. let me know if you wanna jump behind the coffee curtain again...

and about those other patrons being snippy about the long lines...whenever we catch that, we personally escort them around back and assist them in taking responsibility for their own experience and show them how to make the lines move faster by helping out behind the counter.

:twisted:

after the shift, most of them sign up for more...
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Postby theCryptofishist » Fri May 20, 2005 11:11 am

tisha2 wrote:and about those other patrons being snippy about the long lines...whenever we catch that, we personally escort them around back and assist them in taking responsibility for their own experience and show them how to make the lines move faster by helping out behind the counter.

:twisted:

after the shift, most of them sign up for more...
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Postby Chai Guy » Fri May 20, 2005 1:30 pm

Thanks for looking into that for us tisha2, I'm going to be interested to see the exact numbers.
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Postby Blue Jester » Tue May 24, 2005 2:53 pm

I will also be interested in seeing the final numbers. Hey chai guy I love what you are doing, it is so dissapointing to see this buisness taking such advantage of people(3$ for lemonade, c'mon). If you need any help distributing your goods guy let me know I would like very much to be giving away drinks at centercamp. Just a side note, this is just me but if I got a gift of money I would be very turned off
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Postby tisha2 » Tue May 24, 2005 4:42 pm

numbers are coming...

Blue Jester wrote: it is so dissapointing to see this buisness taking such advantage of people(3$ for lemonade, c'mon)


It's made pretty clear that anything anyone wants to have at the event they need to take responsibility for bringing. The tradeoff for buying anything at the cafe is the existence of the cafe. It's not any attempt at cornering a market. And, btw, we welcome free beverage giver-outers.
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Postby missmann » Tue May 24, 2005 4:53 pm

this whole debate has been done forwards and backwards, inside out, etc. many times before, and i think its fair to say that it just not as simple as "oh the cafe is evil". Nobody is forcing anybody to pay $3 for lemonade(it was $2, and still nobody was forcing anyone to pay that). You want cheaper lemonade, you are totally welcome to make it yourself. You think that others purchasing lemonade are getting ripped off, you are welcome to distribute your own lemonade to the masses. regardless how much the damn lemonade and other things cost, i think its important to remember that whether or not the cafe makes money (or profit) depends upon the patronage of the participants of burningman. SO EXERCISE YOUR FREE WILL! if you don't like something, you should feel free to boycott it because I'm certain that purchasing said lemonade and then bitching about it isn't going to change anything. or set the changes in motion yourself- coup!
my other cents, since i'm sure i put in two already, working in the cafe, whY?
i worked in the cafe last year during the 11am -3 pm shift. I did it for a number of reasons. I wanted to participate, but given the amount of travel I had to do to get down there, I was in some ways limited as to what I could do, for example, i couldn't bring down tons of materials to run a craft workshop- just impossible spacewise. It gave me the opportunity to meet people in a place that i didn't really hang out too much other than during my shifts or when i was trying to meet up with friends. I was able to stay out of the sun during some of the hottest hours of the day. It was a lot of fun- high energy environment with mad people watching benefits. oh, and i hooked up with a really hot date thru working there!
does that answer the initial post?
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Postby unjonharley » Tue May 24, 2005 5:06 pm

This will be year 5 for me. Guess I should drop in and see what the center camp is all about. I go to BM to get away from crowds. By the end of the week I can stand in the crowd at the burn. I have looked at center camp. By the amount of bikes thrown around it look like a place to stay aay from. I can go out any time and hang in a cafe here in Salem. By the sound of this board the place is full of bathless ravers. Sleeping off the night before. Isn't that fun? Don't want to buy any coffe or other drinks. My camp is well stocked. So if you want the rave thing 24x7 youmust take in the center camp. On scond thought I'll skip center camp again this year.
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Postby Chai Guy » Tue May 24, 2005 9:56 pm

missmann wrote:Nobody is forcing anybody to pay $3 for lemonade(it was $2, and still nobody was forcing anyone to pay that).


Image

check out the sign, lemonade was $3.00 (this photo was taken at the FREE CHAI Revolution 2004)

You think that others purchasing lemonade are getting ripped off, you are welcome to distribute your own lemonade to the masses.


I do, and I do.

SO EXERCISE YOUR FREE WILL! if you don't like something, you should feel free to boycott it because I'm certain that purchasing said lemonade and then bitching about it isn't going to change anything. or set the changes in motion yourself- coup


Agreed, and you too can join the Free Chai Revolution on Friday at high noon directly in front of Center Camp Cafe.

Oh and Unjon I owe you a beer, a chai and a bunch of other cool stuff for all of your help, so please PM me with your location if and when you get it or I'll send you mine, or something because I'd really like to meet you.
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Postby missmann » Wed May 25, 2005 5:10 pm

so it was $3... ooops! (i guess those who came to my til got a little discount) but still, nobody was forced to purchase the lemonade!

i can appreciate both ends of the spectrum. cafe drinks coz i personally didn't have the space to bring everything with me to make a hot bedtime bevvy, and the kind and charming peebles gifting drinks, coz sometimes its nice to recieve a refreshing surprise.
chaiguy, the chai was delicious, need help making it this year?
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Postby Chai Guy » Wed May 25, 2005 11:30 pm

chaiguy, the chai was delicious, need help making it this year?


Why thank you! We always need help with making, serving and drinking delicious chai tea! If you don't see me wandering the playa, please meet up with us at Center Camp on Friday at high-noon!
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