a barista spend most their time behind the counter. whether we're on register, on bar, turning over the pastry case or prepping frappuccinos, there's normally a barrier between us baristas and the customers. when we do venture out from behind the counter it's usually to restock the condiment bar and clean the lobby.
it's at these times customers believe we baristas are "fair game". as long as you're in the lobby, you belong to them. it doesn't matter if you're mopping up a spill or if you have a toilet brush in your hand. customers will want your help and will stay glued to your side until they are satisfied.
and it starts so innocently:
you'll be filling the sugar containers and a customer will ask you for help finding a particular roast.
you walk them over to the bean display and hand them the desired pound of coffee. you think you can go back to the sugar containers but the customer has you in her clutches and she's not letting go. she wants you to design a gift package for her niece/co-worker/hairdresser. it doesn't matter that there's a line out the door and only two partners on the floor. it doesn't matter that bux does not employ personal shoppers. it only matters that she wants a particular mug with a matching gift card and tough luck if your bux doesn't carry that mug - she'll demand you call every store in your district looking for one.
you can be on a ladder changing light bulbs and a customer will ask you to climb down so he can spend ten minutes complaining about the service he got at a different bux five years prior and how he'd had sworn off bux until one day he woke up with a craving for an orange mocha chip frappuccino only to find bux no longer makes them. then he'll want to know why bux no longer makes them, if there's a way to make a poor man's version and if he can have the direct line to Orin Smith so that he can petition for the return of the orange mocha chip frappuccino.
or you might be wheeling the trash out and a lonely (or even loony) customer will want to bend your ear because no one else will listen to them.
i'll be honest - there is safety behind the counter.
barista rant: please don't use our bathroom as a hook-up spot. people poop in there! our toilet is not a "romance room" no matter what your hormones are telling you. the people banging on the door were not cheering you on - they were desperate to relieve their bladders. please have sex somewhere else, ok?