all about the benjamins

i had a bit of a revelation this weekend.

it all began yesterday morning. kick ass newbie (i'm really going to have to find a new name for her because she is way too good to be called 'newbie') was on register while i was rebrewing coffee, stocking cups and filling the pastry case. everything was going smoothly until i heard a customer scream out "this is FUCKING ridiculous!"
"i'm sorry ma'am but - " kick ass newbie was doing her best to keep the customer calm but the lady interrupted her with more screaming.
"don't give me this bullshit!"
"i'm sorry, but - "
"oh just SHUT UP! where's the damn manager?" bitch lady screamed again.

now it is never acceptable to yell at a barista in this manner. especially when the barista is only doing her job.

"is there something i can help you with?" i asked, knowing i could better handle the wrath of bitch lady.
"she won't give me change for this!" bitch lady held up a 100 dollar bill.
"i'm sorry but we can't give change for bills that large." i told her honestly.
"this is BULLSHIT!" she yelled again. "are you telling me that in this whole store there isn't change for a 100?"
"we don't have enough money in our tills to give you change." i told her calmly. "but i think the store next door might be able to change that out for you."
"well i'm not FUCKING next door, am i?" she was still holding up the bill, as if her profanity would instantly make me change my mind.
"i'm sorry but we can't give you change for that." i said in a very nice tone.
"i don't accept your damn apology!" she screamed at me as i walked away from her.
"well, i tried my best!" i smiled.
"your best isn't fucking good enough!" she yelled as she huffed her way out the door.

two customers who'd been waiting in line tipped us extra for having to put up with bitch lady and complimented me for the way i handled her. kick ass newbie thanked me for intervening and when perky assistant manager heard about the incident she said "damn brat! you're way the hell nicer than i would've been!"

which is where my little revelation came in.

i was nice yesterday. nicer than i would've been six months ago, and i realize the reason bitch lady customers don't set me off like they used to is because of this blog and because of those of you who read it.
it's true, since i now have an outlet for my frustrations at bux, i'm a much calmer barista. when i read your comments telling me that you're better customers because of my rants it inspires me to be a better barista.

so, thank you.
because without this blog and without you readers i probably would've decked her one.

barista rant: don't get pissed at me because you didn't get away with your scam. yeah, i know you want cash for the cd you've just handed me (and most likely stole from another bux) but that doesn't mean i'm going to ignore policy. if fact i don't know of ANY business that gives cash on returns without a receipt. telling me that "the other bux" gave you cash on your return won't convince me, either.


Anonymous said...


but awwww!!!! that is the SWEETEST thing ever an anonymous blogger could say! ( well anonymous to me anyway )

but heck, i've thought ur a good barista ever since i started reading your posts. i only wish i could be as bratty as you are :)

btw, that newbie must be quite something to have gotten ur praise. a fast learner huh?

a really really touched ( eventho' of course its not becuz of me that ur a better barista) bored-rista who isnt so bored anymore

Ashley said...

I'm glad this blog is helpful for you. Everyone should have a place where they can safely blow off steam.

If the world was fair, then everyone would have to spend at least 6 months in a food service job. Alas that's not likely to happed but in the mean time count on us Brat! : D

Anonymous said...

Wow, you still should have decked her.

Ya Looblue said...

i just read your blog. the whole thing. (not in one day, of course. that would've been amazing.) you're an incredible writer it is indeed true-you've made me want to be a better customer (although i've always had the habit of apologizing for being "difficult" when i order my decaf-double tall-nonfat-dry-cappucino.) my local barista always tells me that my order "isn't difficult at all"...and after reading your blog, i finally believe him.

Kiz said...

I'm glad we're helping you out to that extent. But I think you're deserving of the lion's share of that credit. Anyone can write about their work, but not just anyone can do so this well.

I actually enjoy this blog a lot more than some of the bigger ones like waiterrant.

Ryan said...

I love your blog brat, I work in a call center and reading your blog and hearing about your customers makes me chuckle in recognition because I understand exactly how bitchy some people can be because I deal with the same people on a daily basis, they want everything, they want it yesterday and they want you to kiss their ass while doing it.

So needless to say I have read through your blog several times (twice while at work, yes full way through once a day) and it helps keep me grounded and keeps me from losing it on customers (that and a fairly worn out mute button)

Thank you for posting and keep up the good work.

Aarwenn said...

Full confession:

1. I used to be IN the service industry, and I was good.
2. I'm a very demanding person.
3. Now that I'm a privileged yuppie professional, I'm having having a difficult time both asking for what I want at a restaurant (Because I know how hard the waitresses work!) and simultaneously NOT taking out my stress on the service people around me, especially those at the bank, in call centers, at the Verizon store, or in my local bux.

SO. Thank you for providing such a balanced view, that most of the time it's the customer but sometimes it IS the person behind the counter, but no matter what, to always keep your temper because You Do Not Want To End Up On Someone's Blog!

Anonymous said...

I am proud of you for the way you handled that "lady".
:) Liz

Lisa said...

I think you still oughta deck her! :P Insanity.

Moxie said...

At my local Bux one weekday AM, I saw someone try to use a $100 bill to pay. It really flustered the barista on register, who was still fairly new, but she kept her cool, and the other barista was very nice about it. The barista that was on the register now has a TON of MUG Awards and other "Bux lettuce" pinned to her apron.

As for $100 bill people, geez, that brings up a whole host of issues that I will have to go blog about myself.

Esteban said...

Ok, the customer was way out of line for swearing and screaming like she did, and I make no apologies for her. That said, I must bring up a point of contention.

On every bill of paper money produced (including the $100 bill) in the US is written the following: "This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private."

All debts. ALL.

A place of business, especially one dealing with so many cash transactions per day, should be prepared to deal with people who have larger bills.

Again, the customer was WAY out of line, but I also think that places of business should be more responsible.

[sic] said...

(((On my knees bowing)))

I would have been exchanging a flurry of f-bombs and blows with her. But then again, I'm not the almighty Brat!

Anonymous said...

>>On every bill of paper money produced (including the $100 bill) in the US is written the following: "This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private."<<

Yes a $100 bill is legal tender, but all that means is that the government gives a guarantee that the bill is money. That's it. That's all legal tender means.

A business is not obligated to accept the $100 bill as payment (in fact this is the reason many business won't let you pay your entire bill in change if it is a lot of money). A business can demand that all payments be made with credit card or backed by letters of credit, however, it is easiest for them to take government guaranteed money. Just wanted to clear up the misconception that just because a person proffers a bill as legal tender a business has to take it.

Natalie said...

I'm with anonymous on the $100 bills. There's no law saying businesses have to accept bills no matter how large. That's just plain ridiculous.

On a happier note. So glad the public venting is doing you some good.

Anonymous said...

i think being calm pisses irate people off even more. it drives them nuts! so good for you. why waste energy on crazies.

HH said...

WOW!!!if I would've been behind that bitch!!wooooooho!!I mean moooove no change means no change!lol...sorry I vent my frustations too...unfortunatly not through my own blog but soon. ANd you know I do have more respect for the baristas at bux now thanks to you, but also because my cousins (3 of them) are all baristas and I know how bad they get it. Well come by my blog some time soon...I promise I will try not to bitch...to much!

Nicole said...

here where i live theres a public decency law and you could have called the police and gotten her arrested for swearing like that. usually i think that law is ridiculous but in this case i might have been tempted to enforce it.

daria said...

glad we could help :)

Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote "i think being calm pisses irate people off even more. it drives them nuts!". What's even better is to just say, "I'm sorry, could you repeat that?".

mellowlee said...

Im so impressed! Good for you for keeping your cool. I bet your calm demeanor drove her insane *evil giggles* Thanks for another great post!

Mary said...

Wallmart takes stuff back without receipts

Mary said...

forgot to mention, that if the amount is under 5 or 10 (depending on the store), you can get cash back

The Drowmage said...

Good for brat! It's awesome how you handled that nasty lady - and how nice of you to thank your readers here. :)

Just my two cents on this : Nasty lady might have needed the money urgently and lost her cool. There's also two sides to a story.


It could have been a fake 100 dollar bill - so that they end up getting legit cash and the bux gets that piece of green paper.

If it's #2, then that's probably why most places don't accept large bills to change in the first place.

Keep on writing, I think you're good at this.

Andrew said...

Man, you're really patient for standing up to so much bs. Nice job!

San Diego barista said...

The only thing that's keeping me working at the 'bux right now is the realization that I could get another job if I wanted and that I'm overqualified. The fact that I could snap at any moment, tear off my apron and tell a customer to go fuck themselves makes my job a lot easier. I also read an LJ community called customers_suck to realize that I am not alone and that, yes, people are fucking insane.

Johnny Yen said...

I suspect you've learned a key lesson-- let their day be ruined, not yours. Then you get the last laugh.

The Pensive Penguin said...

For a cashier to have change of a hundred dollar bill on hand at any given moment means having a large cash drawer which (I don't know this for sure) I'm guessing starbucks employees don't have. Many barista's are quite young, it is their first job, there is very little security. It's just a bad idea for there to be a large amount of cash in that situation. Not to mention that this is a place of business we're talking about here, not a bank. If Ms. Bitch wants to choose to carry a large bill rather than more convenient denominations, then she should be ready to accept the inconveniences that come with her decision.

And Esteban, before you claim that any bill must be accepted as legal tender for ALL debts, think of all possible situations. You wouldn't accept a five dollar bill as payment for a ten dollar debt, and it stands to reason that the reverse should hold true as well. The tender should be appropriate to the debt, sir. And as far as the Brat told us, there was no debt, Ms. Bitch just wanted change. If that is the case, even though you "make no excuse for her behaviour," you are trying to defend her right to request that a service (a rather inconvenient one at that) be performed free of charge. Since when was that good business?

Anonymous said...

I just found out about your blog last week and LOVE IT. I have told 10 of my friends so far and plan on telling tons more! I work for a very large bank and have to deal with upset customers everyday. I love to read your blog and know that there are others that are just like me out there! Keep it coming. :-)

Kiz said...

The Wikipedia article on Legal Tender (and related article on Invitation to Treat) are some things you may want to look at. Bottom line is, the other two posters after Anonymous are correct: prior to giving the customer the drink, 'bux (or any other vendor) doesn't have to accept any denomination of currency, even if it's legal tender for all debts (the 'for all debts' part is the important one).

It's the same reason why vending machines don't have to accept $20 bills, especially if all they have are $1.25 Cokes. Or why you can't pay a parking meter with pennies.

Now, from a business perspective, you want to accept the forms of payment that will generate business--hence why they'll accept credit cards and most cash. But taking, say, personal checks and $100 bills is a bad idea because of a) risk of default or counterfeit, weighed against b) the fact that so few people really expect to be able to pay with a check or carry around $100s to pay for their coffee. K

Wiki articles:

Papillon said...

Namaste, Brat <3

You are appreciated.

Tom said...

I'm really sorry Brat but Starbucks is like this huge corporate chain and I just know you had that much money in your till and what kind of customer service is that anyway? If I were that woman I would never. Set foot. In your Starbucks. Again.

Oh my God I just realized that in this fractious day and age I have to add...


Sling said...

I agree with the comment that everyone should have to work in the service industry.For those that haven't,..Pay attention to B.Brat!..She knows whereof she speaks.

KeepAskingWhy said...

Love your blog! Wish I was as talented as you. Used to work in food service in my high school and college years. I have a hard time complaining about things as a result because I know how difficult it is.

Keep up the good work, both at the bux and on the blog!

Anonymous said...

Thats great that this helps you to deal with people like that woman. Before Christmas I was waiting in a long line of people at our Bunnings (sounds like Home Depot In the USA)and had this guy behind me cursing and looking agro. When I was seccond in line to be served the cashier left to do a price check as no one on the floor was free. He went right off and then another person in line did as well at the other staff. Thinking of you and others dealing with the public I said out loud folks we just have to be patient. He then abused me about how busy he was etc. I said calm down I have 6 people on a roof waiting. I can't stand people abusing the workers who have rules to work by, leave them alone. Leave your stress outside. A small thing but I'ts nice to get to know the barista's and they remember your order every time. Thanks for the Blog Cheers Peter.

Anonymous said...

AMEN to all of it. I heard about your site from a friend who said I had to read it, so I did! I worked at a bux for 5 years and I just read all the January entries, nodding along as I read. It is all so true and I just love it. Keep it comin'! I think we should send Howard the link...maybe he'll get a hint and change a few things!

Esteban said...

Yes, it appears I was misinformed. I'm willing to admit when I'm wrong.

BobbyRisigliano said...

Dearest Barista,

I work at the busiest breakfest diner in the city of Calgary. When customers start complaining or becoming irrate about their food. I just keep asking them how standing in line for a hour was just to complain. You know what else drives people nuts. Imitating their laugh. Just cause you work behind a desk all day doesn't mean you can be a big bag of douche? or does it?

lizzie said...

I am so glad that this blog is a source of therapy for you. i read it because i worked at one of the california cafes in the mid 80's inspired by seattle coffee houses, java city. i loved working there and often think, when I want to leave the responsibilities of my job behind, that i would love to have that job again.

i live vicariously through you!

Dayngr said...

I love this blog

Thom said...

Right...I'm hooked.

This is my second comment in a half-hour, because I'm hooked.

It's all your fault! You and your witty use of English... :)

I wonder if the lady felt special for having a $100 bill? Perhaps she felt entitled? Perhaps she felt a bit of upper-middle class run through her veins???

Apparently, if this is the case, she forgot to read the Manual To High Class Living, where it explicitly states that one must refrain from foul language in public AT ALL TIMES, or even better...put it on her credit card.

Not Perfect said...

What kind of change did she want for the hundred exactly? In my experience, it's not really a problem for people to pay with a Benny, since my register accumulates a lot of 20's after an hour or so.

Unless, was that lady looking for 20 fives or 100 singles, or God forbid, 400 quarters?