insult to injury

working at bux, you get used to people talking smack, running scams, and hurling insults your way. it's par for the course, and usually it's pretty easy to ignore/laugh off the stupidity you must endure each week, but occasionally there will be times when it will take every bit of self-control not to go off on someone.

this past week i had just such an encounter.

i've complained often about mr. whim and his never-ending drink complaints: "this is too foamy, it's not hot enough, there's not enough espresso, it tastes funny, too much ice, etc., etc."
but last week mr. whim went too far.

now, i know some of you might be thinking, "but brat, you've dealt with mr. whim countless times in the past. why was this time around so much more egregious?"
well, i'll tell you.

i greeted mr. whim as soon as he walked in the store and asked if he would be ordering his usual.
"yeah, thanks." he smiled and handed over his credit card to the register partner for payment.
knowing how picky he always is about his drinks, i steamed his milk to his desired temperature, making sure i did not over-aerate the milk. after his shots pulled, i made sure i had his attention as i poured the steamed milk into the cup.
"not too much foam, right?" i asked and made sure he gave his approval before i capped his drink and handed it to him.
as per his usual ritual, he finished reading the front page of the paper before taking his beverage to the condiment bar to "doctor it up". not one minute later he's back at the bar, but this time his demeanor was uptight and aggressive.
"this is WRONG." he made a face as he pushed his cup back towards me.

now, at this point i was already a bit pissed off. not only did i have a line of drinks in front of me, but i'd made sure to walk him through each step of the drink making process so that he'd be happy with his beverage. even though he'd given me the go ahead at each step, here he was - standing in front of my with a stinkface, demanding his drink be remade.

"gee, mr. whim," i didn't try to hard to hide my attitude, "it seems EVERY time you're in here there's a problem with your drink."
"what?" he gave me a goofy smile, as if that would somehow make me forget the million times he's had us remake his drink before. "i don't think so."
"oh yeah." i raised both eyebrows. "EVERY time - and it doesn't seem to matter how we make it at all. we can, like TODAY for instance, get your approval before handing the drink to you, and you will still say it's not right."
"well, sometimes you guys don't do it quite right - " he started to defend himself.
"it just seems REALLY odd that the problem is always with us, you know?" i'd given up on trying to sound even remotely polite. "that somehow NONE of us can get your drink right, even when you're watching us make it every step of the way."
"that's not true," he gave me a fake chuckle. "that guy there never messes it up." he said as he pointed to slacker barista. "he always makes it perfectly."

in that second i was so agitated i couldn't even see straight.
NEVER before had i ever been so insulted while wearing a green apron.
never had a stupid customer comment cut me to the core.
was mr. whim REALLY saying that slacker barista made better drinks than me? that slacker barista somehow could read mr. whim's many moods and fix his drinks accordingly? how could mr. whim not be able to tell the quality difference between freshly steamed milk, and resteamed, mixed milk made with a dirty steam wand?

i couldn't even respond to mr. whim, i was so upset. i told slacker barista to remake the beverage since he "always makes it perfectly" and then took a moment to bitch to a fellow barista brat about mr. whim. it was surprising that i couldn't shake my anger for the rest of the shift - especially since slacker barista wouldn't shut up about how he was the only one who could make mr. whim's drinks right on the first try.

the next day, slacker barista was still riding his high, when mr. whim showed up for his usual.
"brat, you want me to get this?" slacker barista asked, confident in his skills.
"be my guest." i shrugged and went back to prepping frappuccino bases.
can i tell you how satisfying it was to hear the words: "this is WRONG. you need to remake it!" come from mr. whim once slacker barista had handed over the beverage?
"but man, you said i always do it right." slacker barista said with a hint of hurt in his voice.
"well, not this time. there's too much foam - and it tastes funny." mr. whim responded flippantly.
"what an ass!" slacker barista hissed once mr. whim had finally gone.
the brat in me just smiled and felt the anger from the day before melt away.

barista rant: please listen up. it is never, never, NEVER funny to stick your hand in our tip jar, grab a fistfull of dollars and ask, "can i pay with this?". we baristas will never laugh when you do this. we will never give you a thumbs up and say, "good one!" we are not here to laugh at your dumb jokes, so don't get offended and pissy with us when we answer, "no, you can't pay with our tips. did you want to order anything else?" instead of giggling at your 'wit'. and if you insist on continuing to play this joke on us, we will be forced to hang on to your change and ask, "is this for us?" as well.


Anonymous said...

I'm a new reader from Finland and I've just been reading the posts from the beginning, so far I'm loving what I'm seeing - although I've never been to a Starbucks, I don't even drink coffee or tea actually :) plus according to their website, the only Starbucks in the whole Scandinavia is in Denmark...

The thing is, I don't know if this has been asked in some comments but I would really like to find out - when you remake the drinks after a mix-up in order, do people really get the new drink without paying for it again? I would understand that if it was the barista's fault but if the customer, er, guest, admits they made a mistake when ordering? Reading the blog I get the feeling this happens quite often. It just seems such a waste to me, and I'd think people would be more careful when ordering if they had to fork up the money for another drink if they messed up... or is it the company policy to rather waste drinks even if the customer was at fault than risk annoying/losing them? This just really bugs me...

RastaManErn said...

Reason n° 1001 why I don't work in the service industry. There should be fu*king murders.

Rambling Mom said...

Why does Mr. Whim come back *every single day* if *every single day* you get his order wrong.

Next time he's in and complains, I'd have a list of other nearby bucs and say (in your sweetest customer service type voice) "since we always seem to get your drink wrong, why don't you try them tomorrow" (and then you can mutter under your breathe -- and never darken our doors again).

Krys said...

Lord - I'm pretty sure I would have reached over and STRANGLED him. What a total ass. Hopefully karma will come back and give him a good, swift kick.

Sara said...

When I used to work in a bakery, people did that shit ALL THE TIME with the tip jar. What in the world would make them think that was even remotely funny???

Moxie said...

I once saw a $2 bill in a Bux tip jar...I admit to picking it up and looking at it to see if it was authentic (it was, as far as I could tell) and I was very tempted to put in $2 of my own just so I could take that $2 bill...but I left it alone. The guilt instilled in me through 11 years of parochial school won out.

Oh, that Whim, thinking the only way he can be noticed is if he bitches & complains. I bet his coworkers plot his murder on an hourly basis.

Lorraine said...

Good lord. Not to mention that a cappucino is a frakking cappucino. I mean, come ON! I think that "since we always get it wrong you might want to try one of the other Bux" strategy is brilliant.

What a putz. Give his picture to Sling so we can make sure he never comes into the club, 'k? You need a haven.

6th Floor blog said...

Some people are just never satisfied. It's probably not just his coffee either.

Anonymous said...

I'd tell him to shove his foam up his a$$.

Honestly, this guy is mental. Pulling that, "oh, you guys don't ALWAYS make my drink wrong" would make me want to wring his neck across the counter.

I seriously do not blame you for your anger.

But I love hearing what kind of stories come from your crackhead guests/partners.

Manuel said...

I used to have that hand in jar thing in the coffee shop I used to manage. Cheeky sods. We never found it funny either. What is it with some people?

As for Mr Whim, there is one of those guys in every restaurant and every coffee shop in the world. You just wanna beat theme eh?!

Anonymous said...

Is there any way to get approval from a manager to start charging him for remakes? If he is specifically telling you what to do and still doesn't like it, isn't that his fault?

If I go in and order an almond, orange, raspberry, caramel mocha and after it's made I decide it tastes like crap, who is to blame?

Point him to the cappucino machines that you guys sell in the lobby.

Anonymous said...

i work for the woo-hoo internet phone company..customer service...technical......try this one brat..my 'mr. whim' calls constantly because he hears a 'whisper' of static on his phone...no one else ever hears it...NOTHING fixes it...and i am stupid and should refund money because he is unhappy...luckily for us we get to keep notes, so i can see 'mr. whisper-whim' does this every month right before the bill is due....i SO TOTALLY understand how you held that anger for hours.......of course, probably like me, once you get home and have relaxed awhile you're annoyed with yourself for letting a moron get to you...i've figured out that there are some people who are so miserable they get pleasure from abusing customer service personnel, retail sales and cashiers because they know these people need to swallow their crap to keep their jobs

Anonymous said...

The first time he orders, give him a cup of any old stuff, that you whip up without taking any special pains.

It's just going to be dumped down the drain anyway! Right?

After he asks you to re-do the drink, make it properly the 2nd time.

Ya Looblue said...

yeah...i also vote for talk to management about a re-make charge. he's a waste of supplies, time, and energy.

slskenyon said...

People amaze me. Nine times out of ten, they "think" they know how they come off and then you see the opposite pattern of behavior. Go figure. Oh, and I've never seen that particular "dumb joke" while working behind any counter, but I am more thankful for that than anything else.

bella principessa said...

I'd tell you to spit in his drink, but DNA would catch you out. Perhaps offering him the use of a green apron would do the trick?

Anonymous said...

brat doesn't reply to comments anymore :( do you?

Beth said...

My God, what a complete and total ass Mr. Whim is. Why does he keep coming back?

jp said...

Haven't been around in awhile, just wanted to say hi. Hi!

Kiz said...

I'm not being critical, but why get agitated just because the guy said 'slacker barista' made the drinks better than you? From your descriptions of Mr. Whim, he could have just as easily pointed to the napkin dispenser and said the same thing.

..Although, I do suppose it gave you a chance to knock 'slacker barista's smugness down a bit. Everybody wins in the end!

Johnny Yen said...

At my restaurant, we've got a regular who inevitably says, as he pays his check says "Is it all right to tip?" As a co-worker says, "Gosh, that one gets funnier every time he does it."

That's hilarious that he didn't like "slacker barista's" drink either.

Anonymous said...

Spit in it!!!!! The guys sounds like a pompas assh@@@

Allan said...

Perhaps Bux should consider adding Paxil to it's products.

Next time someone hands you a twenty, put the change directly into the tip jar and laugh. Ha ha!

Boringscreenname said...

Ahh the reason I hate going to Starbucks, not because of the baristas, but the customers. I always get stuck behind the yuppy looking businessman who thinks he's high and mighty because he's got a blue tooth and can rattle off his order for a full five minutes and then complains about it.

I'd flat out refuse service to him anymore, I mean most places say you have the right to refuse anyone service. Make him go annoy another coffee shop.

Tom said...

Ah, Brat, do you know that you are the Harvey Pekar of javaland, and beyond? I have missed you terribly, and I am very glad to be checking back.

Anonymous said...

I really wish I could find out where you work so I could drop in and give this "Whim" guy a good beating. He really sounds like he needs one.

As soon as I finished, you could say: "You didn't beat him correctly. Do it over." And then the beating would happen again..

Sorry that seemed too violent, but I couldn't help it. He's just a complete and utter waste of skin.

Tami said...

I thought you might be interested in knowing there is a book called: How Starbucks Saved my Life. It sounds very interesting.

Anonymous said...

Brat -
Checking daily, and am really hoping for a new story soon. I'm as addicted to reading your blog as I am to my morning beverage!
Thanks for the great reading - now how about a new post!

Ribeye of your Dreams said...

I have guests like that who come into my job every week. They're called Trash. They complain about every aspect of their meals, from the drinks, to the perfect service, to the desserts that have been made perfectly, to all the food that they try ordering that isnt even offered. Every time my own "Mr. Whim" comes in, he orders Spaghetti and Meatballs. We don't even have meatballs, nor will we roll up the pre patted burgers to make them for him, but he still tries it every week like it makes them real.

Bariatric Brat said...

I am convinced that you can never be paid enough for what you endure.

Anonymous said...


I recommend you stop giving negative people your energy. It onlys breaths life into losers like Mr. Whim.

Go Zen.

Let it go. Take a deep breath, remake his drink and tell him to have a Fantastic Day in your most sincerely, sarcastic voice.

Don't let him get th best of you.

clevelandbux said...

Yeah I'm starting to get worried. Where are you brat? Also Mr. Whim sounds familar. Boy it's amazing that Bux customers don't seem to be very different from market to market. I'm sorry that you have to deal with guests like that. baristas don't get paid enough to have to deal with the a**holes that they deal with on a daily basis.

Ya Looblue said...

miss your stories Brat. hope you're ok!

Dr.evil said...

where has barista gone?

Manuel said...

Is there anybody out there?

Urban Chick said...

Hey brat!

Long time/first time - miss you dearly. Hope all is well.

misha said...

hey brat! we miss you - come back!

Lacey Bean said...

I just found your blog, and its hysterical! I've had a lot of friends work at SBux, and you have my credit for dealing with those people like Mr. Whim every day. I worked in customer service too, and its SUCKS. Definitely adding you to my blogroll. Keep it up! (And keep their hands off the tip jars!)

barista brat said...

everybody - thanks so much for not beating me to a pulp when i'm late with my posts!