Just off the rainy Oxford streets, warm, inviting and smelling of freshly baked treats, is Insomnia Cookies. The jingle that plays each time the door opens mixes with the mellow tones of soft rock in the background, creating a welcoming environment for its night-owl patrons. For the employees, however, the scene isn’t always as inviting.
I stopped in around 1 a.m. last Thursday to see exactly what the late-night workers have to put up with.
“You eventually become desensitized to the kinds of people who come in here,” said Kayla, an Insomnia employee.
Kayla has worked at Insomnia Cookies for the past four months and is a veteran of numerous ridiculous late-night happenings.
“One time, this visibly drunk guy walks in, orders three triple chocolate chunk cookies and a cheese pizza, and gets really confused when he realizes that he isn’t in Bruno’s.”
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Dan, a veteran employee of two years, has even more stories to tell.
Among the many tales were instances of attempted theft of the store’s ice cream containers, countless intoxicated patrons stealing the dusty, windex-coated display cookies and drunken customers trying to get it on in the bathroom, only to tear the sink off of the wall.
“There are good days and bad days,” said Dan. “It’s not always the most enjoyable work, but you get by.”
Plus, he said, in exchange for dealing with drunkards, the pay is pretty great.
While there are plenty of obnoxious customers, there are also the occasional funny ones. Among these more good-natured patrons were a drunk man who once tried to sweep the floor for the workers and a man who, after trying and failing to unknowingly pay with a Buffalo Wild Wings gift card, apparently tipped exceedingly well.
While nothing quite as wild or wacky as any of that happened while I was there, plenty of post-party patrons stopped in.
A man, slurring his words and fiercely insisting that the employees keep his 90 cents in change greeted me as soon as I walked in, and a group of raucous girls stumbled in shortly after, making drunken proclamations and revelations.
“Guys, how much do you bet that I can swim home?”
“OMG they call it Brick Street because the street is made of bricks!”
The employees behind the counter seemed right at home in the presence of these inebriated individuals, as they simply rolled their eyes and went about their work, sweeping the floors and cleaning the counters while the group of girls up front cackled wildly.
Aside from dealing with customers face to face, the employees of Insomnia have to handle deliveries as well. When a call is made, it goes to a call center at a different location. Then the order is relayed back to the store and the delivery is made. Additionally, Dan says, customers often request that a message be written on the box.
“We get a lot of normal stuff, like ‘Happy Birthday’ and ‘Congratulations,’ but there are the occasional weird ones,” Dan said. “Once, we got an order to put ‘We’re all just dinosaurs’ on a box. That was probably my favorite.”
After spending a night in Insomnia, I’ve gained a newfound respect for the people who work there. The workers behind the counter tirelessly endure the antics of drunk college students, and continuously serve up delicious cookies without so much as a sigh of annoyance.
Whether it’s after a hard night of partying, or a simple late-night cookie run, Insomnia remains the place to go for a fresh baked treat and a warm place to sit and eat it.
Just make sure to tip well. They definitely deserve it.