the steve urkel of starbucks

blogger hates me....it really does. it ate yesterday's post so i'll have to start anew.

for the past few months my schedule has been very consistent at bux. this means i normally see the same customers each week and work with the same baristas. occasionally, however, i'll work with a barista that i barely know.
for months i've been hearing complaints about the latest transfer to our store. she was hired (i believe) because she wouldn't need to be trained like a newbie, but on day one it was apparent to everyone that she knew next to nothing about making drinks. she also is compulsively late to her shifts, with each "reason" being more fantastic than the previous one.

"my power went out!" was the excuse she gave for her first bout of tardiness.
"the police blocked off my street and i couldn't leave until they searched my car!" was what we were told the next week.
then the stories got more elaborate:
"my dog was throwing up all night and i had to take him to the emergency hospital. in fact, he might die, i'm not sure, but i'm supposed to make sure he gets his medication every three hours, so can i leave early?"
"oh my god! i accidentally switched phones with my sister and when i set the alarm i didn't realize it was on pm and not on am. that's also why i didn't answer when you called me!"
"my car broke down and the taxi service says they won't come pick me up because i only have a credit card and their only available taxis are cash only. and the bus that comes near my house just changed the schedule so i won't be able to get there for at least another couple hours!"

but her tardiness is not the only reason for complaints. she's loud, annoying, just stands in front of the register, gets in the way of those actually working, and tries to become your new bff within the first five minutes of meeting you. if you correct her, or ask her to do something she squeals "my bad! i'll do better next time!" only to continue in her usual habit of laziness.

so, when i found out i'd be working several hours with her this past weekend, i wasn't that enthused. however, i'm used to dealing with lazy baristas, so i figured it really wouldn't be THAT much more work to deal with her.
how. wrong. was. i.

if it were just the fact that i had to tell her what to do every five minutes, it wouldn't have been that bad - but having to listen to her run her mouth non-stop was really draining. whether she was chatting with the customers, or trying to talk to us baristas, it was physically exhausting to just be around her while she had the mouth runs. and it wasn't that she was just talking to hear herself talk - she definitely wanted an audience who would give her feedback and input.
i'm sorry, but i'm just not that patient and/or compassionate to deal with the issues of someone i hardly know, and really don't like.

"good god, is this what you have to deal with everyday?" i asked superlead after our new annoying partner had left for the day.
"actually, she was tolerable today. usually it's much, much worse."
"maybe it's just because she's young that she's so immature." i tried to reason.
"uh, she's not that young." superlead gave me a look. "she's in her thirties."
"you're friggen' kidding me." i couldn't believe superlead was telling the truth.
"seriously, she's way old enough to know that her behaviour is NOT how you influence people and gain friends."

which brought me to a strange sort of quandary. on the one hand i feel bad for her. socially she is totally inept. it's clear she wants to be liked, and not feel like an outsider, but she is going about it in a way that only alienates her more. which leads to the other hand - she has been on this planet long enough to know that her method of social interaction clearly does NOT work. that forcing herself onto other people is NOT the way you make new friends. and that being lazy and making up dumb excuses certainly isn't going to make her any more popular.

so, i guess i'm just counting myself lucky that i don't have to work with her all that often, and when i do i guess i'll just try to deal. like always.

barista rant: i'm sick of you scammers trying to get things for free, and then threatening my job because i won't comply! so what, you spent thirty dollars on a gift card last week. so what, you claim my manager gave you a free drink because you threw thirty bucks down for that gift card. firstly, i don't believe he gave you a free drink. secondly, no matter how much you bitch, you're not getting a free drink for buying another card. thirdly, i don't care if you call my manager to complain about me and try to get me fired. we don't give away free drinks when you buy a gift card! if you really got a free drink last time, consider yourself lucky and don't threaten to get me in trouble because i'm doing my job!!!


customer comeuppance

for the most part my bux has some really great customers. of course, we get our share of caffeine addicts that believe our only mission in life to serve them in a manner suited for ramses the great. no matter how accommodating we baristas try to be, these customers are dead set on being annoyed by everything we do (and do correctly, i might add).
i've been in my green apron long enough to know that these people are just outright jerks and nothing i do will make them happy. the poor newbies, however, who are blindsided by these vicious customers are usually rendered useless for a few minutes and have to compose themselves in the backroom until they are 'strong' enough to continue making drinks and ringing customers. it really is trial by fire, and unfortunately we can't always tell which customers will be the pains and which will be the angels.

in the past week we've had a couple gems to deal with. and yes, the poor newbies did take the brunt of the abuse, but at least there was some sweet justice that followed:

- on a busy friday morning one of our newbies was having a very difficult time with a picky customer. this customer wanted a "perfect pastry" from the case and made the newbie offer each pastry up for inspection.
"that one is too small!" she'd complain. "that one isn't square enough!", "that one doesn't look flavorful enough!". i swear, i thought she was auditioning for the role of friggen' goldilocks. finally when she 'settled' for a less than perfect pastry, she repeated an equally annoying process when ordering her drink. not only did she give newbie very specific instructions to write on the cup, but she micromanaged every single letter he wrote and demanded to inspect the cup after he'd marked it.
"what the hell is this?!?" she asked, upset that newbie wrote "3=" in the custom box instead of "3 equals" and made him rewrite the whole damn order on a new cup.
while waiting for her drink, she accused newbie of giving her the wrong pastry, and demanded deafeningly he change it for a better one. by the time her drink was ready, newbie was on the verge of a breakdown. after arguing with another person at the condiment bar, picky customer finally left our bux. upon exiting the store, she tripped over her own feet and dropped her perfectly marked drink as she tried to catch the pastry she'd flung through the air. the pastry landed in a puddle of water, and her drink spilled all over the sidewalk.
"FUCK IT!" she screamed and got in her car and drove away.

- my bux parking lot is very cramped and busy. now, i'm not a road rage sort of person, but i do expect other people to obey traffic rules. even though i had the right of way, a bitch in a white bmw decided the red octagon with the white letters that spelled out "STOP" was not intended for her. she gunned her motor and pulled directly in front of me, cutting me off and gesticulating wildly the whole time. i could only laugh because of how ridiculously she was behaving.
as she waited to pull into a spot directly in front of my store i managed to squeeze my car past hers, park in a vacant spot only ten feet away, and enter my store before she'd had a chance to complete her parking job.
because of her actions in the parking lot i was not surprised to see her stomp into my bux, huff about the loooong line (seriously, there were only two people ahead of her), and then demand her drink be made quickly because she was in such a hurry. now, i could have been a horrid barista and made her a disgusting drink, but i decided it would be much more poetic if i had a newbie make her drink instead - since i was sure it would take newbie twice as long. of course, the bitch with the bmw was quite vocal about having to wait, and i just smiled sweetly and explained that we had a new partner training on the bar. then bitch with the bmw got a call on her cell phone and went outside for ten minutes, while her drink sat on the hand-off counter.
when she came back into the store, she complained that the drink was too cool and wanted it made again because she comes in "all the time!" (and no - none of us baristas had ever seen her before). so of course i let newbie make her drink for the second time. surprise, surprise, bitch in the bmw wasn't happy with drink #2 either. so it was made a third time (still not by me, of course) and she still wasn't happy with it, but since we'd "wasted so much of her time" she took it anyway and angrily drove off.
awww, sweet schadenfreude!

partner rant: ok. i understand that part of my job requires me to 'talk up' new beverages and products we sell. and i know another part of my job requires me to participate in store meetings where we learn and discuss these new products. but when we baristas (rightfully) voice our concerns and doubts about our new fruit blended drinks, we should not be berated, nor blamed for the past failures of the bigwigs in seattle. telling us the reason breakfast sandwiches and chantico drinks went bust was because we baristas were not "solidly behind the product" is a bunch of bull. no matter how much we may try to convince our customers to try something new (or even lie to them and tell them how much we love it) will NOT ensure that customers will go ga-ga over a mcmuffin ripoff or a small cup of melted chocolate. in fact, give us baristas credit for the fact we all successfully predicted how terribly those new products would be received instead of using us as the scapegoat for how poorly our company is doing at present.


the brat lives!

not sure if anyone is still checking up on this blog since i've been away for months.
i have some very good reasons for being absent, and some very bad ones.

honestly, i've been frustrated with the whole bux environment and haven't really wanted to blog about it. this blog, after all, is called 'barista brat' and not 'barista bitch'. i felt all my posts were becoming quite bitter and angry, and although this is where i come to vent - i didn't think it appropriate to spew just for the sake of spewing.

so....i'm back.
not quite as cheerful as i used to be, and still very bitter, but i will make a concerted effort to entertain and not just emote.

i'm sure many of you saw the reports that bux will be closing 600 stores nationwide.
as of now, my store is not on the short list to be shut down. in fact, i don't think any of the stores in my district will be affected, so it will be business as usual for the brat.
am i surprised by the news that bux is doing so poorly that they will have to shut down 600 stores?
uh, i have a two-word response: breakfast sandwiches.

ok, ok, i know the stupid ovens and sandwiches were not the sole reason for our stock plummeting and our sales dropping. but honestly, when bux focuses on products that are NOT coffee related, the stores suffer. it's true.
now we are hit with the news that some stores will be serving sorbetto beverages (and yes, that means they will have yet another huge, annoying machine to deal with) and all stores will have new 'nutritional fruit blended beverages' on the menu.
are there not enough jamba juices, robeks and booster juices on the planet for people to get their smoothie fix? does howard schultz really think offering a smoothie to a frappuccino drinker is going to bring our stock up? does he think people will forgo the long lines at jamba to stand in a long line at bux just for a 16 oz smoothie that contains a banana and some protein?

honestly, i was hopeful when it seemed bux was putting the focus back on coffee. but i think superlead was right when she said she believed it was more of a publicity stunt than an actual commitment to serving the best coffee all the time. we baristas are not feeling 'backed up' by the bigwigs in seattle. this company has changed since i was a newbie barista, and i know that change is to be expected. but to be perfectly honest: bux was a much better employer 'back in the day'. i still hang on to the hope that howard can pull it all back together, but so far i've not been impressed with his decisions.

barista rant: baristas and managers are not perfect, nor are we clairvoyant. we did not expect the insane heatwave, and yes we were caught unprepared. i'm so sorry that we did not have enough flat lids for your iced drinks. i'm sorry you were so inconvenienced with looking at a dome lid sitting atop your iced coffee. did you not notice that every other customer ALSO had a dome lid? so why, after seeing the ten people ahead of you walk away with dome lids on their drinks, did you walk up to the bar and ask me for a flat lid? uh, HELLO?!? did you honestly think i was saving them for the special people who knew how to ask for them? did you think somehow i would manage to pull one out from my apron just for you? use your brain! or is that dome empty too?