all right, mr. de mille. i'm ready for my close-up!

a lengthy tale about a vainglorious barista:

when this barista was first hired, he seemed like a great fit. he was affable, punctual and a quick learner. in fact, we all had high hopes for him because not only did he appear to like his job, he also liked dealing with customers.
he was the guy who would give you a hug before he started his shift, always be available to work for you if you needed the day off, and gave gifts to all his fellow baristas every holiday (which, quite honestly, seemed very odd to me). he was chatty with the customers and with the partners alike.
but he was also painfully slow on bar. and was always late coming back from his breaks. and would spend ten minutes talking to one customer while the rest of the partners had to work harder to make up for the slack. AND he thought he was the greatest thing bux had ever seen since the advent of frappuccinos.
but when he REALLY became unbearable was when he decided bux was sherwood forest and he was robin hood. he started giving away beverages to his friends, family, regulars, people he'd just met, customers who thought adam lambert should've won american idol, and the guy who reminded him of his mechanic.

"so why didn't you put him straight, brat?" you might be asking.
well, i tried.
and failed.

i admit, i was manipulated into being too nice to him.
i have never worked with such a suck-up before. it was always, "oh honey, i love working at this store!", "my love, thank you for being the best learning coach!", "sweetie, i appreciate your help so much!".
baristas were complaining about his laziness and freebies left and right, but were all too afraid of hurting his feelings - so he continued to "hand out donations" to his friends and customers while the rest of us had work even harder just to stay afloat.

baristas, leads, even my own MANAGER would tell me of how hard their shifts were because he'd taken too long a lunch, or was too slow on bar, or had gossiped with a customer for ten minutes while he was supposed to be doing a lobby. whenever they would try and gently let him know that they needed him to work as hard as they did, he would softly purr his apologies and then be so hard on himself that they soon found they were comforting HIM!
he'd even figured out how to cut the leads off at the pass and would promise to work harder before they'd a chance to have a coaching conversation with him.

finally, i'd had enough.
i didn't care how "nice" he was anymore.
i had no use for the empty compliments.
all i wanted was for him to DO HIS JOB.

so, with the blessing of my manager, i decided to have a sit down talk with this barista to let him know that:
a) he was very well liked
b) he needed to pull his weight while at work, not just spend all his time talking with customers
c) all his fellow partners really, honestly did like him
d) his job was in danger because he gave away so many free drinks and pastries
e) it wasn't personal - everyone LIKED him

as i said - i was stupid and easily manipulated by him.
i should have kept it to only point b and point d, but i didn't want him to feel picked on.
after our talk was over i was hopeful that he'd adjust his behaviour while at work. and you know what?
his behaviour DID change!
but not in the way that i'd hoped for.

instead i became locked in his crosshairs.
he still continued to give away freebies, and still didn't do his job, but now he spent his time telling baristas and customers alike that i had it in for him because i was -
wait for it...


yes, it's true.
he told anyone willing to listen that i was jealous of him because he was so popular, which in turn made my popularity wane.
his exact words were, "she used to be the one in the spotlight, and then i came and took it from her. now she can't handle not being in the spotlight anymore and she's trying to get me fired."

i admit, i laughed - no, not laughed - guffawed when i heard this.
and then i was kind of sad.

i was sad because it suddenly became crystal clear why this barista gave away drinks and bestowed gifts upon his fellow partners. he so desperately wanted everyone to like him that he'd resorted to "buying" his friends. he didn't genuinely want to help people out - he wanted their affection.
and when i told him that his job was in danger unless he buckled down, well, he saw that as a threat to his standing.
and his standing was more important to him than his job because not two days after our discussion, barista buddy had his own conversation with him regarding the SAME things.
and less than a week after that he was "separated from the company" for -
wait for it...

giving away beverages.

barista rant: i know you love the way i make your drink. i know that whenever you see me on bar you call out, "yay brat's gonna make my drink!" but even though you get "the best" drinks from me, it does not mean if i'm in your eyesight that i have to drop what i'm doing to make your high-maintenance beverage. this especially holds true when i'm on my knees under the blenders cleaning the drain. i don't care if it will ruin your day if someone else makes your drink - deal with it. i'm busy doing yet another one of my duties.


James UK said...

Great to see you back!

You can never win with people like that; they have one set way and that's it. Period.

You just have to "cut away the fat" and get rid of them. They will never, ever, change.

Keep on blogging!


SkippyMom said...

HEY! Waves excitedly!! Nice to see you. Hope all is well.

Barista buddy sounds like he was still reliving granduers of High School. Too bad his blinders didn't allow him to see that you were trying to help.

So silly he thought you were jealous. Of what? Bah!

Would love an email to catch up! Miss you :)

Zoltar Panaflex said...

I've worked with people like that, and we called them 'princesses' and they were simply insufferable.

Usually they were nice to *everyone* but the actual coworkers, who detested them.

The princesses would comfort themselves against the dislike by telling themselves (and anyone else) that said team-members were *jealous*! of their super abilities.

Just as aggravating! Things usually normalized once the princesses were dethroned. Bleah.

SO glad you're back, Brat!

LegalMist said...

Welcome back!

I've worked with waitresses like this - comp-ing food, discounts everywhere, so they would get better tips and the customers always asked for them. Meanwhile, they'd stand at their customers' tables chatting for 5-10 minutes leaving the rest of us to run their drinks, bus their tables, even deliver food for "their" customers. So we'd end up doing all their work while they got all the tips.

I was always generally opposed to tip pooling, but people like that made it seem like a rational requirement...

Johnny Yen said...

Welcome back!

That is really sad that he wasn't sharp enough to take your helpful advice. Sad thing is that he's probably going to continue the same behavior in his next job.

Back in the late eighties, I worked with a waitress who became a monster. She'd come over from another breakfast place with a pretty good sized clientele, and helped the then-new business get going well. But then she started demanding the best shifts and more tables than the other servers, saying that she deserved it because "she built the place." Never mind that she couldn't handle it-- we other servers were constantly running her food, or being pulled aside by one of her customers to get a drink or side dish they'd ordered 15 minutes ago, but she hadn't gotten because she was brown-nosing a rich regular.

I left the place, but stayed friends with one of the owners. He told me that eventually they caught her stealing-- she was having tickets identical to the restaurants printed up, using those to make orders and pocketing the money.

Tom said...

Brat! I peek in just on the off-chance that *maybe* a new post has come up...and I win! Woohoo! Thanks for posting!

On the subject of the partner - who hasn't worked with someone like this at one point or another? I worked with a person like this at a previous job. The person's performance started to slip badly, and when this was pointed out, said employee did not start trying to do improve things work-wise. No, employee started doing things like being extra chatty with clients on the phone, putting coworkers' drinks in the fridge for them, being uber-pleasant to everyone all day - but not doing the JOB right! The employee eventually left, but we had to endure for months. Didn't help that the boss was terrible with confrontation and motivation. Gah!

Jaui said...

YAY! Brat is back!!

I'm like the other posters and was peeking in just to try my luck... and it's a good start of the day for me!

look forward to more entertaining posts in the future! :)


Anonymous said...

bring this blog back! new posts please!!!!

Dylana said...

I love the way you write!



Seth said...

Sheesh, what a tease of a good employee. Thanks for still posting!

a barista said...

you've inspired me to mark my own cup in the world, brat. I've been baristin' for as long as you have (well as long as you started the blog) and I can totally relate to you and the world you are facing. I hope you post again- because Christmas is here!

Oyah said...

Visiting... nice blog, please follow me and I'll follow u, ty... I'll also put ur link in my Friends' Links ...