first, i hope everyone had a great holiday.

now, on to the griping:
this wasn't a great christmas for my bux. in fact, we barely even noticed it was the holiday season. there were some good things that happened, like barista buddy coming back, and surprise gifts from customers, but all in all my store lacked cheer.
part of it was our district manager who came in often to point out every microscopic flaw my bux had. another part of it was the virus that attacked many of our baristas, causing a lot of shifts to be run short.
but the biggest thorn in our collective side is our newest newbie, crack junior.

now, i'm sure you all remember my rants about mr. 'cracks-under-pressure' newbie who forgot his partner numbers, couldn't remember recipes, and had a non-existent attention span.
well...crack junior is all that and more.
in fact, the first time i saw crack junior i said to superlead "doesn't he remind you of mr. 'cracks-under-pressure'"?
unfortunately the resemblance isn't just physical.

crack junior has been at my bux for weeks and still doesn't know how to make a single drink. he isn't friendly to customers, mis-marks cups, and does not listen at all to anyone. everyday i come to work there are new crack junior stories from my fellow baristas.
"yesterday he knocked over the trash, and instead of cleaning it up he just looked at it like it was a newborn baby."
"i sent him back to do dishes and very plainly told him to ask me where everything went so he wouldn't have to pile it all up on the shelf. i go back to check up on him and sure enough everything is piled up. when i reminded him he was supposed to ask me where to put things, he just looked at me."
"i taught him how to prep the whipped cream containers and made sure he knew to use WHIPPING CREAM and not HALF&HALF. of course, every single one he prepped was made with half&half."
"the lead sent him on a trash run and told crack junior to empty all the trash cans in the lobby. he even pointed out where each and every trash can was. so after crack junior comes back and says he's done, the lead asks him 'you got all the lobby trash?' and crack junior says 'uh, that's the one next to the milk and sugar?' and the lead says 'yeeeeaaaaaahhh, but you were supposed to get ALL the lobby trash - like the ones near the doors and in the bathroom.' crack junior shrugged his shoulders and says 'uh, no. i didn't know i was supposed to get those too'."

everyone has a crack junior story and everyone is at their limit with him.
and even though he is just as useless as his predecessor, there is something different about him that really rubs everyone the wrong way.
a fellow barista brat thinks it's just we have no more patience for such stupidity. that we were ecstatic the other newbie quit, and we now have no tolerance for people who can't catch on.
i think it's a bit more than that.
crack junior doesn't act clueless when he works. he acts like he couldn't care less. in fact, he acts like he's above wearing the green apron.
apparently crack junior is a recent graduate of famous university where he had a very high gpa. and apparently working at bux was the last thing he wanted to do with his life after receiving his diploma.
i'm fine with that.
if you think wearing a green apron lowers your status, then DON'T WEAR THE FRIGGEN' GREEN APRON! go find a job that fits your self-worth and be good at it, instead of 'settling' for bux and making your co-workers lives harder because they have to pick up your slack.

this weekend i have two shifts with crack junior.
wish me luck.

customer rant: don't lie to customers about drink recipes. just don't. when i order a chai latte, i expect a chai latte. not a chai latte with an added shot of espresso. when i inform you that there's espresso in my chai, don't lie to me and say, 'oh! i accidentally used the old recipe. the one where we used to put coffee in the chais. they recently changed it, but i'll make you a new one!" believe me, i'll respect you more if you just cop to the fact that you made a mistake, instead of making up a story about drink recipes changing.


thanksgiving came late

in the past couple weeks there's been a few events at my bux that have made the brat very, very happy:

1. doobie newbie is finally getting the hang of being a barista.

as you well know, it's been a looooooong journey getting doobie newbie on track. constant on the job training didn't work. warnings that his status as a barista was in danger didn't work either. amazingly, the only thing to light a fire under his apron was working with mr. 'cracks under pressure' newbie.
that's right. apparently all doobie newbie needed to get in line was to work with someone who performed just as poorly as he did.
"what is wrong with this guy?" doobie newbie complained to me. "he can't remember anything! he doesn't even know how to make a latte!"
"uh, yeah." i tried to reply evenly. "see how your job becomes twice as hard when you work with someone who can't perform basic barista duties?"
"oh my god." he shook his head, sensing not an ounce of irony. "he so useless! why does he even work here?"
with every shift he shared with mr. 'cracks under pressure', doobie newbie improved exponentially. he's now a completely different barista than he was three weeks ago, and although there's always room for improvement, he's no longer the one guy everyone hates to work with.

2. mr. 'cracks under pressure' finally got a clue.

i'm not sure if it was due to the constant coaching from all his fellow baristas, the constant complaints from customers, or the constant bouts of "forgetfulness" but mr. 'cracks under pressure' finally realized bux was not the place for him. let me tell you, not one barista was sad to hear that he'd put in his two week notice. and i wasn't even upset when he did a no-call/no-show on my shift. as i told my manager - it was easier to work my shift one barista short than to have to spend the night babysitting the newbie. i wish him all the best and hope he finds a job more suitable for him.

3. barista buddy is back!

i had the pleasure and privilege to work with barista buddy when i started at my current bux. he is one of the greatest guys i've ever met, and our store was heartbroken when he was transferred out of our district. well now he's back, and my fellow baristas and i couldn't be happier. customers are also happy to see him back which hopefully means are tips will be better as well.

so now, as we are heavily into the red cup season, i have several reasons to be enthusiastic about my bux. we are finally pulling out of that dreadful downward spiral, and things are definitely looking up. yes, we still have those horrid ovens, and yes some of our customers are certifiable, but at least we exchanged one bad egg for a good one, and a formerly failing barista is now doing his green apron justice.

partner rant: why is there james taylor on our holiday cd?!? last year our cd was filled with christmas, hanukkah and seasonal music. now, just as we get into the holiday mood, non-holiday music pipes through our speakers and makes it feel like it's just an ordinary week at bux. even customers have asked "where's the christmas music?"


no lovin' for the oven

i have no idea who came up with the idea. i have no clue as to why a committee approved it. and i'm not quite sure how the guys in seattle could fool themselves into thinking it would be a huge money maker that would push our stocks back up to 35 bux a share.
but whatever the case or cause was, we baristas are now cursed with ovens in our stores.

i'm sure you can well guess our initial protests to the convection ovens: it's yet another machine to clean, another way to make the line move slower, and another item for customers to bitch about. and although i'm sure all these concerns were brought up to corporate, in their infinite wisdom they decided that all company owned stores NEEDED to have ovens on the premises.

now, the ovens were brought forth so that we could serve breakfast sandwiches. and i'm sure someone, somewhere bought a cup of starbucks coffee and wished they didn't have to then travel to mcdonald's for their egg mcmuffin. so for them, the introduction of the ovens was marketing genius. however, there's an equal (if not larger) number of people who were glad that they didn't have to smell the scent of pre-cooked eggs and soggy bacon while they waited for their lattes.
and yes - not only are they annoying to clean (seriously, the aroma of the cleaning spray induces gagging) and increase the wait time for customers, they are also very hazardous to baristas!

everyone in my store has fallen victim to these awful ovens. i have received blisters just from removing pastries from the oven (with the specified long handled tongs, mind you), superlead received a third degree burn from a breakfast sandwich that fought back (yes - the cheese splattered on her as she opened the oven), and other baristas also begrudgingly wear the battle wounds from these 'new money-makers'.

but it's not just the blisters, burns, and added cleaning that frustrate us baristas. it's the customers that want their muffins, danishes and sandwiches warmed to specific temperatures, or want their lattes 'zapped' so that it's a little hotter, or even want the bottom of their coffee cake room temperature, while the top is 'browned' a bit more. and of course we try to educate each customer that we cannot cater to their whims, but still arguments ensue.

my favorite so far:
customer: hi! i'm in here everyday! can you warm my slice of pizza for me?
barista brat: (searching brain for recollection of customer, but there's none) i'm sorry, we can't warm up items from other places. just starbucks food.
customer: but i'm in here everyday! it's just a slice of pizza! can't you zap if for half a minute?
barista brat: no, i'm sorry. it's a health code violation. we are not allowed to put anything in the ovens that isn't from starbucks.
customer: well, just leave the pizza in the box! seriously - i'm here everyday! can't you just do it for me?
barista brat: uh, no. it's a violation, plus the box would catch on fire.
customer: (now wearing a bitch-face) it will NOT catch fire! i KNOW how a MICROWAVE works!
barista brat: it's NOT a MICROWAVE. it's an oven and the answer is still 'no'.
customer: i can't believe you won't do this one little thing for me. i'm here everyday!

partner rant: i know that although our aprons are green, we are far from being a 'green' company. and really, i'm ok with that. what i'm not ok with is the amount of food waste in our stores. why do stores get in trouble for not marking out enough pastries? i understand you want our customers to have an abundance of choice, but when i have to toss out dozens of pastries and sandwiches a night, it's clear there's a waste problem. if you want us to get rid of the excess pastries, then at least make it easier for us to donate these food items to charities or shelters.


newbie blues

we have a newbie infestation.

not only do we have a ton of new hires on hand for the holidays, we also are training newbies for the brand new store that will be opening in a few weeks.
let me tell you - they don't make newbies like they used to.

at first i was blaming the managers for hiring people that clearly are not cut out to work at bux - that maybe they were just so desperate for bodies to put in aprons that they were hiring any and everyone with decent availability. but then i realized that even the dumbest people can interview well. they just can't follow it up by working well.

here is a list of the recent newbie screw-ups that my store has had to deal with:

the tagger - while learning how to ring on the register, this newbie decided to use the sharpie given to him to write on the counter, the pastry case and the register he was assigned to. not only was he stupid enough to tag in the first place, but he used his real first name, making it especially easy to finger him as the culprit.

the addict - this newbie begged to do a trash run to the dumpster. when we realized he'd been gone longer than necessary a fellow barista went out to check on him. he found the newbie four feet from the front door smoking a cigarette. newbie pretended he had no idea he wasn't allowed to smoke while on duty and returned to the store. not only did he try to sneak in a smoke break, he never even made it to the dumpster to toss the trash.

mr. 'short-term memory' - this is the most dangerous sort of newbie. the kind that seems to comprehend everything said to him, and then proceeds to forget it in a matter of seconds. mr. short-term was asked to a)sweep the lobby, b)fill the napkins and c)change the milk containers. not a minute later he was back at his register. "did you check the lobby already?" i asked him, only to be answered with a blank look accomponied by a "huh?". i had to walk him through our last conversation to remind him that he'd been assigned tasks. after telling him (again) the three things he needed to get done he proceeded to check the lobby. when he had 'finished' i realized he'd forgotten to fill the napkins and change the milks, so i called him on it. his response? "oh, you wanted me to do those things too?".

the second guesser - this newbie wants so badly to do a good job that she refuses to trust her instincts. after going over the 3-4-5 rule with her dozens of times, i put her on bar so that she could get practice making drinks. the very first drink she was to make was a grande mocha. before putting the syrup in the cup, she pulled out her training booklet. "what are you doing?" i asked her, shocked that she could forget the 3-4-5 rule so soon. "just making sure i have the recipe right," she answered. she proceeded to make the drink correctly and i thought all was good. until i noticed she pulled out her booklet before every drink - even when she had to make another grande mocha.

mr. 'cracks under pressure' - every newbie is assigned a partner number. this is the number you clock in and out with, the number you assign a till with, and the number you use to log into the register in order to ring customers up. so, this newbie (who will not last past the holidays, i'm sure) came in on his scheduled shift, clocked in (with his numbers), was asked to assign a till (using his numbers) and was then asked to ring up customers (again, with his numbers). after an hour of alternating between being on till and prepping product, mr. cracks under pressure called me over to his register. "brat, i'm having a problem," he confided to me while twitching nervously. "what's the issue?" i asked, a bit pissed because he was taking so long at ringing up customers. "uh, i'm having issues with ringing her up," he pointed to the woman in line who wanted to purchase a mug. "well, put your numbers in and then scan the barcode." i told him (with little patience). "that's the problem," he twitched some more, "i forgot my numbers." i had to take a good three seconds to compose myself before i responded to him. "you. forgot. your. numbers?" i asked increduously. "uh, yeah. i'm getting them confused with my social security number." he admitted. i sent him to do dishes while i finished ringing up the line. a half hour later he happily informed me that he had miraculously remembered his numbers.

miss 'does not compute' - this newbie is extrememly unclear on the concept. after learning how to make frappuccinos, she was asked to do some practice drinks. instead of filling the blender with liquid, ice and syrup, she filled a grande cup with the ingredients. then she proceeded to place the cup on the blender unit and pressed the button. "it's not working!" she cried out. "um," the lead on duty tried hard to contain his laughter. "it's not possible to blend a drink in the cup you're going to serve it in. you have to blend it in a BLENDER." she also thought changing the milk pitchers meant putting the half&half pitcher where the nonfat pitcher was and vice versa. and when a customer asked for an iced latte, she made a hot latte and added ice. and no - i don't feel the least bit bad for writing "i am sofa king we todd did" on a piece of paper for her to read aloud. btw - she read it ten times and never got the joke.

partner rant: we are on a course for destruction. our store is about to implode. there are a handful of us baristas who are holding this shit together (including the manager). if you don't want to do your job, then leave. it doesn't matter that we like you outside of work, or that you're a cool person to be around. if you're not pulling your weight, you're making my job that much harder. our tips suck because our customers don't want to reward subpar work. morale is down, the store is a mess and we are always running out of product. now we are heading into holiday and things are only going to become more difficult. i used to love my job, and now i'm dreading it. if people don't start perfoming like they should, i might be the one looking for something new to do.


bux, rotten bux

i know, i know - brat has been MIA for awhile.
i have to be honest. the past couple weeks at bux have been rough. after dealing with another rash of newbies, an assistant manager who freaks out on an hourly basis, and the crazy after-school rushes, i've been less than enthusiastic about keeping my green apron on while i'm off the clock.

in fact, lately i've been dreading going to work at bux at all. i still love all my bux friends, and most our customers still brighten my day, but when you spend each and every shift training (or RE-training) someone how to make a latte, ring up a pastry, or even how to double bag a trash can, well, it can get tiresomely redundant.
and when our district manager comes in and micro-manages every aspect of our store operations (even down to what color marker we use for the coffee tags), it not only interrupts the natural flow of the store, but puts every barista on edge as well.
but the worse of the worst has to be mr. split personality assistant manager.

now you may recall that mr. split personality and i have some mutual friends, which immediately meant i was mr. split's bff at bux. believe it or not, mr. split is a really cool guy. yeah, he's a bit awkward socially, and sometimes he can be clingy, but for the most part people genuinely like him - except for when he's wearing his green apron.

maybe it's because mr. split personality is one of those types who can't handle stress, or maybe it's because he's the kind of guy that lets the smallest thing ruin his whole day - no matter the cause, the effect is that every single barista HATES working with him.

"how's your day been so far?" i asked a shiny newbie her second day on the job.
"well..." she started slowly, choosing her words carefully. "when i work with you, or with the other baristas, everything is cool and fun. but when i work with mr. split my shoulders touch my ears because i'm so stressed and freaked out."
"uh, yeah," i wrinkled my nose. "he has that effect on everyone."
"thank god - because i thought it was just me." she breathed a sigh of relief. "i was afraid i was so bad that i was throwing him off his game."
"unfortunately," i rolled my eyes, "that IS his game."

i was talking with super lead (formerly known as awesomely amazing barista) about mr. split and we've come to this conclusion: this job is not for him.

yes, he WANTS to be a good assistant manager.
and yes, he REALLY tries to do a good job, but the problem is that he is not equipped to handle the high volume, high workload, and high expectations of his position (although i've heard from many parties that he wasn't all that qualified to be a barista, either). and when someone, be it our manager or a barista, tries to let him know how to be more effective at his job,or points out something he didn't do to standard, he gets defensive and pissy.
now mind you - this is the guy that was angry and depressed for three days straight when he found out a girl he'd met on eharmony was thirty pounds heavier than her picture portrayed her to be. imagine what he's like when a barista has to correct his cup markings.

the flip side is that when he's not stressed, not messing up, and not making our jobs more difficult, he's very upbeat and fun (although he is often reminiscent of a tag along sibling).
i get the impression that he knows his position in our store is on the line - that all parties involved know he's not up to task. it remains to be seen if that will get him to shape up, or if he will go completely mental.

barista rant: do not blame me for your mistake. if you are stupid enough to take someone else's drink when i call it out, don't assume i'm stupid enough to believe it was my fault - no matter what excuse you make. don't tell me that i called the drink out wrong. don't tell the other customer that i mixed up the order of the drinks. don't explain to me how i set the drink in front of you, called out your name and beverage, yet handed you a drink that belonged to a totally different customer. and don't expect me to apologize, or use my sweet barista voice, when i set you straight.


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.


high on love

doobie newbie has been making minor improvements each week.
amazingly, he now knows how many pumps of vanilla are in a grande latte, as well as remembering that refrigerator doors need to stay shut if they are to keep cool. he's shaved a full minute off the amount of time it takes him to clean the lobby, and he's even learned the difference between an iced mocha and a mocha frappuccino.

you might ask yourself why doobie newbie has turned over a new leaf.
could it be a new found sense of accomplishment?
a fully functioning extra brain cell?
a heart-to-heart from his parents?
no. no. and no.
there can be only one reason for this new transformation: he's in love.

that's right - doobie newbie is changing his ways for a woman.
who's the lucky girl?
well, that would be awesomely amazing barista.

"brat, have you noticed doobie newbie following you around more than usual lately?" she asked me after working three shifts in a row with him.
"no - actually he's been better about figuring out what needs to be done."
"that's weird," she wrinkled her nose. "he's been following me around a lot. even when i'm counting my till, he comes back there and just stands next to me."
"oh really?" i laughed, the image too funny for words.
"and the other day he called me and left a message on my cell but i didn't get a chance to listen to it."
"so today he asked me if i got his message. i asked him why he called and he said 'oh you know, just to talk'. i thought that was so weird." she gave me a sideways look and shrugged her shoulders.
"maybe he has a crush on you?" i teased her.
"good god, i hope not." she grimaced.

but the next few days continued in the same vain. doobie newbie following her around and trying to chat her up each moment she was free.
"so, uh, you like movies?" he asked her while she was re-stocking cups.
"yep." she answered with only one word, trying not to prolong the conversation.
"uh, do you read any comic books?" he asked after a few minutes.
"nope." again she gave a minimal answer.

when it became painfully obvious that doobie newbie was fully enamoured with her, awesomely amazing barista made sure to talk a lot about her boyfriend whenever her admirer was around.

"so, uh, you have a boyfriend?" he asked with fallen face.
"uh, even though you have a boyfriend, are you still allowed to hang out?" he asked hopefully.
"allowed? what do you mean 'allowed'?" she laughed.

so even though doobie newbie knows she's taken, he continues to follow her around, chat her up, and now is doing his best to improve his performance so that he can impress her. if he wasn't such a terrible barista, all this might actually be endearing.

barista rant: if you ask for the piece of coffee cake in the front of the pastry case - i'm going to give you the piece of coffee cake from the front of the pastry case. so don't holler and hoot, "no! i said the one if front! the one in front!" when i hand it to you. when i show you exactly where i got the coffee cake from, don't give me attitude and huff, "well, that's actually the one in back from where YOU'RE standing!". and when i explain that no matter where i'm standing, the front of the case is still the FRONT of the pastry case, don't grab the bag from my hand and complain about how rude i am.


lie to me

it's a rare day when we DON'T hear "but the other bux does it for me!".

i really hate 'the other bux'. i hate those 'other baristas' who apparently have no use for drink standards, health department regulations, or honesty. i hate being told by a misinformed customer that i have no clue as to what i'm talking about and that i obviously need to be re-trained. and that the 'other bux' is where i should re-train at.

"i want a sugar-free caramel frappuccino." a customer placed her order yesterday.
"ok, i do have sugar-free caramel syrup, but i just want to make sure you know that the drink still has sugar since none of our frappuccino bases are sugar-free." i told her pleasantly, but fully aware that she was going to blow her top.
"NO!" she jutted her chin towards me and rolled her eyes. "i am a diabetic, so the only thing i can drink are your sugar-free frappuccinos, and that's what i WANT!"
"ma'am," i started calmly, hating that i've had to have this same conversation with countless customers before. "we offer regular frappuccinos and light frappuccinos. now, there is splenda in the light frappuccinos, but there is also some sugar. there is absolutely no way i can make a frappuccino completely sugar-free for you - and i think you really need to know that since you are diabetic. i can, however, offer you an iced sugar-free caramel latte."
"no, no, no!" she shook her head. "you DO make a sugar-free frappuccino! i know because i get them all the time!"
"ma'am - "
"look - " she interrupted me. "i go to the starbucks down the street all the time. the guy there told me that there is no sugar at all in my drink. and i KNOW he was telling the truth because i told him i'm a diabetic."

why, oh why, do customers believe a lazy barista over an informed one?
yeah, i know. it's because the lazy barista is telling them what they WANT to hear.

"well," i continued, opting to end this as quick as possible. "THIS starbucks doesn't carry sugar-free frappuccino base."
"that's ridiculous!" she wasn't going to leave without a fight. "all starbucks are supposed to carry the same items! let me talk to your manager."

"ma'am, starbucks doesn't offer a sugar-free frappuccino base, only frappuccino light base." he told her after she'd gave him every painful detail of our conversation.
"oh, ok." she pouted. "i guess i'll just have to give my business to the OTHER starbucks down the street!"
"that's fine," my manager said with a smile and a shrug. "just remember, it will still have sugar."

i swear, sometimes i love my manager.

partner rant: ok - i'm sure you thought it was hilarious at the time, but telling non-stop talking customer that the barista brat was "missing him" and "couldn't wait for him to get back from vacation" has a load of bad karma heading towards them. i know you clutched your aching sides from laughter when you heard him say, "oh brat, i missed you as well" and "so brat, you've been on my mind lately". or when he patted his stomach to show me how those last few trips to the gym have paid off. i'm glad you had your fun, but now i have to deal with non-stop talking customer thinking i have a crush on him. ugh.


laugh a latte

although it can sometimes be stressful working at bux when one has to deal with fussy customers, slacking partners and nit-picking district managers, there are days when not only is being a barista fun, it's downright hilarious. my last few shifts i've laughed and smiled so much, my jaw hurts.

funniest customer of the week -
customer: hey, do you have any of that lindsay lohan tea?
barista brat: i'm sorry?
customer (leaning in close): you know what i'm talking about, right?
barista brat: i have no idea.
customer: it's a tea. the firecrotch tea.
barista brat (laughing hard): do you mean the african red bush tea?
customer: yeah, that's the one! lindsay lohan!

'foot in mouth' barista award -
barista buddy: hey, doobie newbie, can you grab some vanilla syrup from the back?
doobie newbie (pointing to customers at the register): but...but...
barista buddy: don't worry, i'll ring. i just need you to grab me some vanilla.
doobie newbie: but the customers...
barista buddy: please. just. grab. vanilla.
doobie newbie (as he shluffs off to the backroom): uh...ok.
barista buddy: man, what an idiot. he's a nice guy, but seriously - an idiot!
doobie newbie: here's the vanilla.
barista buddy: thanks.
doobie newbie (to the customers at the register): hi mom. hey dad.

delayed reaction award -
customer: can you make me a vanilla iced coffee, but creamier than usual?
barista brat: weeeellll, i can put a splash of half and half in it, and maybe half a pump of dulce de leche as well.
customer: just so long as it's creamier.
barista brat: here you go - let me know what you think.
customer (takes a sip and walks away): thanks.
*twenty minutes later*
customer (walks back into bux and leans over the counter): that drink was FUCKING AWESOME!

clueless customer award -
barista brat: hi, how can i help you today?
customer: all your frappuccinos have coffee in them, right?
barista brat: not all of them. you can get a creme based frappuccino with no coffee.
customer: well, what about that new blueberry one?
barista brat: that one is made with the creme base, so there's no coffee.
customer: but i want coffee.
barista brat: the blueberry will taste horrible with coffee, but the caramel or mocha frappuccinos have coffee and they are both very popular.
customer: oooh, that sounds good! give me a blueberry caramel mocha frappuccino!
barista brat: uh, i can do caramel mocha OR blueberry creme.
customer: but i want coffee.
barista brat: yes, the caramel mocha will indeed have coffee.
customer: ok!
*three minutes later customer grabs vanilla bean frappuccino instead of caramel mocha*
customer: yum! this blueberry caramel mocha coffee is delicious!

partner rant: i know the district manager is on your case, and i know you want to be the 'best assistant manager ever!', but seriously, you have got to calm down. freaking out daily won't get the job done faster. stressing and gritting your teeth won't make us work faster. threatening to write people up every shift will not sway anyone to your cause. especially when most of us can work circles around you! please - until you can multi-task and turn over a good shift, DON'T expect your fellow baristas to give you 200%. especially when we already have to work harder to make up for your tantrums.


bait and snitch

ah, another week and another mrs. moocher sighting.

i was lucky enough to be on my break when she wheeled her (even) older sister into the store.
"hello!" she greeted my fellow barista with a toothy smile. "i want a refill, but i left my cup at home."

the barista, who really hates conflict of any sort, asked mrs. moocher to "hang on a sec" and then came to the backroom and informed me that the old bird was up to her old tricks again.
"she knows our policy." i told her. "just explain it to her again and she will either pay or go away."
"brat, can you do it please? i hate dealing with her." the barista asked.

meanwhile, at the counter, mrs. moocher was throwing a fit.

"where is she going? what is she going to say?" mrs. moocher demanded of the other barista on the floor. "is she going to snitch? is that how you do things here? are you all snitches?!?"
she didn't give the other barista a chance to say a word, instead continuing her tirade.
"do you get a raise if you're a snitch? is that how starbucks trains its workers now? do they tell you to run to the back and snitch on customers?"

when i returned to the floor with non-conflict barista, mrs. moocher aimed her ire at me.

"brat - your girl there really jumped the gun!" she shook her finger at me.
"i'm sorry?" i asked - totally confused.
"she jumped the gun, that one did! she goes running off to you, and i didn't even do anything! she is a snitch!"
i opened my mouth to respond, but she just kept squawking.
"i said to her - as soon as i came in - i said, 'hello, i would like a refill of ICE WATER, but i left my ICE WATER cup at home' and then she jumps the gun and goes running to you, as if i am trying to steal from you!"
"oh, really?" i asked disinterestedly, although in my head i was thinking "i'm so friggen' sure!".
"that is no way to treat a customer! you need to settle that one down so she doesn't jump the gun." she took her ice water from the other barista, "i just wanted a refill of water, that is all, and that other girl tried to imply that i am stealing. you need to get her in line, brat."

but the most jaw-dropping part of the exchange came moments later when mrs. moocher noticed her sister slouching in her wheelchair.
"are you falling?" mrs. moocher asked her sister, and with one hand grabbed the collar of her sister's shirt and pulled her upright, as if she were a marionette.

"man, i can't believe what she just did to her sister." non-confrontational barista said once they had left.
"hey - don't jump the gun!" i teased her.
"yeah, you snitch." the other barista laughed.

customer rant: what is your deal!?! you stood in front of the door jabbering with your friend. when i tried to step around you to enter the store, you blocked me so that you could enter first. then, when your friend stopped at a table to say hello to someone, you ran ahead of me so that you would be first in line - and you know what? i really wouldn't have cared if you knew what the hell you wanted to order! but no - you had to squint your eyes and take your time reading the menu, then you asked the barista to list the ingredients of all the muffins, and THEN you held up the (ever-growing) line so that you could wait for your friend to finish her conversation and order her drink and pastry. and even though you paid, you weren't nearly done. you stood directly in front of the serving counter so no one else could collect their drinks AND you had to touch each beverage and ask 'is this one mine?". when your drink was finally ready, you proceeded to the condiment bar and CONTINUED to be a very large thorn in my side by blocking all access to the milk and sugar. i even had to go all matrix to squeeze past you just to exit the damn store!


we used to be friends (a long time ago)

one of the great things about working for bux is making friends with (most) your fellow partners. i am still buddies with many people from my old bux, and am very close to several of the baristas at my current bux.
sometimes, though, a person you thought was a friend can turn out to be a real jerk.

we have a barista at my store who has always been friendly with everyone. in fact, every partner in the store (managers included) has always said "that guy is so cool!" whenever his name is brought up in conversation. unfortunately his name has been brought up quite often lately.

when this partner started slacking on his barista duties, the rest of us were quick to give him a break - after all, working at bux is very labor intensive and everyone has off days. but when it became clear that he had given up caring about cleanliness, speed of service, and punctuality, the new store mantra became "yeah, he's cool, but I hate working with him".

i felt more like a babysitter than a barista whenever we were on the same shift.

"hey guy, can you remember to windex the inside and outside of the pastry case when you're cleaning it?" i asked after noticing the plethora of fingerprints on the glass.
"oh yeah, sorry." he smiled back at me. "i was about to do that."
"we have to sanitize ALL the mats." i told him plainly when he asked if it was okay to clean only the ones that 'looked dirty'.
"haha, ok." he laughed. "just thought we might be able to clock out a little early - that's all."
"hey guy, don't forget to empty the trashcans in the lobby." i had to remind him when he'd told me he'd finished all his tasks for the night. "and you still haven't windexed the outside of the pastry case."
"oh, my bad!" he smiled again before complying.

i decided to have an informal chat with him - letting him know that EVERYONE had noticed his performance was slipping, and that it was frustrating since we all knew he was fully capable of doing his job correctly. he apologized and promised to work harder on his next shifts - and he actually did improve, for about a week.

"hey brat, i don't feel like going to my other job today." he told me one morning during a crazy rush. "i'm too tired after working here, so i think i'm just gonna call in sick." he chuckled.
"please tell me you're joking." i responded, hoping he really wasn't considering screwing his other job over.
"it's boring there - all i do is stand around," he sighed. "they won't miss me anyway."

so three days later i was quite upset when i'd heard he called my manager ten minutes before his shift was supposed to start, claiming he had food poisoning. especially since he'd been trying to get that shift covered so he could go to a concert. over the next week i'd heard complaints about him from every barista i worked with.

"he says he's the fastest barista, but that's because he doesn't give a shit about standards anymore!"
"we were left with only two people during the rush because his sister needed his car 'for an emergency'. yeah right."
"he called in on sunday and said he had to take his mother to the airport, but when we phoned his house his mother said he was supposed to be at work!"

the last straw for this barista brat came two days ago.
"aw crud, brat! do you see who we're working with tomorrow?" he asked while looking over the schedule.
when i found out doobie newbie would be with us for most our shift, i looked at the slacking barista and said VERY clearly, "don't even think about flaking out on me tomorrow."
"oh, i wouldn't do that to you!" he smiled. "it's just gonna suck because i'm gonna have to work so much harder!"

although pissed, i was not surprised when i walked into work the next day and found out that he was a no call/no show for his shift. actually - he did call.
he called hours earlier to verify the start time of his shift, and then never bothered to show. he didn't answer his phone and didn't return any of our calls, either.

today i was informed that he made an appearance in our bux this morning - claiming the reason he didn't show up for his shift was because he had to take his cousin to the hospital, and he didn't have his phone to call us and let us know.
yeah, hospitals are notorious for not having any phones, right?

i really, really, REALLY hope my manager fires this barista. yeah, it sucks when a barista isn't pulling their weight, but when they totally disrespect their fellow partners by not even showing up (and then creating the lamest excuses on the planet) repeatedly, then it's time to hang up the green apron and call it a day.

the worst part is he used to be so cool. he was fun to work with, and generally a great guy to be around. if he'd always been a jerk, a slacker and a no-show, then it wouldn't be so frustrating, or feel so disrespectful. i don't know of any barista who thinks he should be able to keep his job (not that it appears he even wants it), and i hope that he's asked to leave before he has the chance to bail on his other shifts.

barista rant: please listen to the words that come out of my mouth. if i ask you 'what size?' don't sigh heavily, roll your eyes and spit 'COLD!'. don't repeat the phrase 'i want it COLD. COLD!' when i again ask you 'WHAT SIZE?'. don't look at my barista buddy, shake your head and ask 'can you let her know i want it COLD?'. and when he asks you 'what size' don't pretend that it was the first time you heard that question all day!


heard it through the bux line

vanishing barista has been found. ten points for those of you who knew he'd get back together with his abusive girlfriend. of course there was one relationship that was destroyed forever, and that was his employment with bux. but believe it or not my manager was willing to give vanishing barista a second chance - who has no interest in working for the company anymore. BUT - in case some of you were curious as to what he would now do for work - he did turn in an application to our main competitors in town. we know this because they called my manager for references!

and now on to our regularly scheduled post:
the best baristas always have their ears open. if you're on register you should have one ear listening to the customer and the other ear listening to your floater. if you are on bar you should have one ear open towards the people waiting for their drinks and one open towards the register partners when they yell out "soy!", "extra-hot nonfat!" or "grande cappuccino!". many a time i've been on bar and caught mis-marked cups because both my ears were open and i heard the customer request no foam, extra shots, or decaf when my register partner was oblivious.

sometimes, because both ears are open, we hear parts of conversations that we really wish we hadn't heard.

"oh my god, it was so painful!" a customer said in a low voice to her girlfriend. "since it was a woman gynecologist i totally expected her to be gentle, but she was rougher than the guy that took my virginity!"

"mommy!" a little boy howled in pain. "sara just punched me in the peanuts! HARD!"

"who cares if it fell on the floor?" a woman said into her cell phone. "just rinse it off and serve it anyway. that's what i always do."

"i can't believe i just paid two bucks for this crappy coffee." a businessman told his associate. "my secretary back at the office makes it a hundred times better than this. maybe i should give her a raise."

"that guy on register would totally be cute if he didn't have such a gut." a high schooler gossiped to her friend.

"so then i told her there IS a right and wrong way to do things!" an elder woman told her equally aged friend. "and if she can't learn to do it right, then maybe i should give her part of the inheritance to the mormon temple!"

but the funniest/most shocking thing i've heard all week came out of doobie newbie's mouth.
customer: "just a tall drip and the paper."
doobie newbie: "james, how are you?"
customer: *blank stare*
doobie newbie: "you don't remember me? i'm edward's friend.
customer: *blank stare continues*
doobie newbie: "i met you last semester on campus. you had just bought a new bike but it had a flat tire, so you asked edward if you could use his cell phone to call your girlfriend."
customer: "uh, yeah. i vaguely remember that."
doobie newbie: "it was right after your math class, remember? because you'd just taken a calculus final."
customer: "wow - that's a trip that you can remember all that."
doobie newbie: "oh, i have an amazing memory. in fact, it's kind of what i'm known for!"

partner rant: ok, so i understand you're stressed because the district manager is going to be visiting, but that doesn't mean you can go off on all the baristas! i know that as an assistant manager you have more responsibilities than the rest of us, but for grounds' sake keep your cool! reminding us five times a minute that 'the store has to be perfect! don't you realize the district manager is coming?!?' will not push us to work harder or faster. in fact, all the energy you spend freaking out can be spent scrubbing the grout.



it's been quite the week for surprises.

a couple days ago i spotted mr. whim parking his car so i braced myself for his usual brand of crazy. luckily i wasn't on bar, so i wasn't going to have to remake his drink ten times because of his ocd, but i was on register which meant i would have to put up with his grumpiness while he ordered.
imagine my surprise when he greeted me with a 'good morning!' and made small talk while he happily handed over his money. he even made me laugh with a stupid joke, and when his drink was ready he took it without fuss and never asked the barista on bar to 'fix it'.
i think mr. whim's psychiatrist must have upped his medication because today he even complimented the skills of my manager on bar.

remember this barista?
well, after several talks from management, he finally got his overbearing girlfriend in check. sure, she still called him - but only during break. and sure, she still came in the store, but her tantrums lasted only a few minutes as opposed to entire shifts.
it's been no secret that their relationship remains quite contentious - this barista has even confided to his fellow partners about the constant mental and verbal abuse at home - but all of us were blown away the day he walked out of our store (in the middle of his shift) and out of her life.
that's right - he pulled a runner. his (ex)girlfriend has been coming in daily to see if we have any news of this missing barista. he has been a no-show to all his shifts this week, and is not answering his phone or returning calls. his girlfriend is freaking out because rent will be due soon and although she always gave this barista shit for working at bux (instead of some higher profile job) she was always happy to take his earnings so that she would only have to work one day a week.
i hope he is still alive (i was, in a rather cryptic manner, assured by another barista that he is fine) and i hope he gets his life in order.

and of course, the final surprise is mrs. moocher.
after yelling that i'd 'mortally offended' her, she is now trying to be my new BFF. she hasn't tried her mooching scam on me, but does come in for a venti iced water and a chat.
"brat, i just want you to know that i think of you often and i'm glad we are able to put that nastiness behind us!" she told me awhile back.
but last night she decided to make it a very special visit by bringing her invalid sister to the store to meet me.
"brat! this beautiful young lady is my sister," she pushed forward the wheelchair in which her very aged sibling was resting in. "i had to take her to the doctor today, but i brought her in especially to meet you!"
seriously - what the hell?!?
again, mrs. moocher did not try and run her scam (overtly). she just asked for an iced water and then began to tell me how expensive her sister's healthcare is. when she finally left, my fellow partners could not contain their laughter.
"brat, you're soooo cold-hearted!" barista buddy chuckled. "you should give that old lady her coffee for free - not charging her regular price! can't you see she needs every penny for her sister?"
so i guess mrs. moocher is trying to kill me with kindness and guilt. and it would probably work if i didn't catch on that this is just another of her scams - lengthy and well-thought out, yes, but still a scam.

barista rant: just because you work for bux does not mean you can come into my store, act like a total bitch, and get your drink for free PLUS a free coupon. i don't care if you've been a partner for 'years and years'. i don't care if 'the other bux' gives you beverages for free. i've never seen you before in my life - and even if i had, you'd still only get your thirty percent discount. and no, telling us we are the worst bux ever is not an effective way to demand a free drink coupon.


pot belly

in a previous post i mentioned my latest headache: doobie newbie. i wish i could say that since that post he's improved immensely, but that would be so very far from the truth.

now, doobie newbie is a very nice guy. he comes in to each of his shifts with a smile on his face and a sincere 'how are you?' to each of his fellow partners. unfortunately his good mood has to be attributed to the fact that he is either lit, or will be getting lit shortly after work. it is painfully obvious to us baristas that doobie newbie is not a good fit for bux, that he's only working a job so that he can fund his habit, and that he has no interest in doing his apron proud. unfortunately management is either really clueless, or purposely turning a blind eye to all this.

for my past three shifts i have been stuck 're-training' doobie newbie. sure, he's already had two learning coaches, and yes he's been given ample time to learn drink recipes, but as you probably already well guessed - the boy is greener than al gore.
my patience is being tried like it's never been tried before. several other baristas have already 'washed their hands' of doobie newbie, saying it's easier to work around him than work with him.

"brat, did you hear what he did this time?" is the first thing i now hear when i start my workday.
"he just stands there like an idiot! he doesn't know his ass from his brain!" bitter old man will huff.
"seriously, i don't think this is the right line of work for him." awesomely amazing barista generously concedes.

sometimes it seems as if doobie newbie wants nothing more than to fail.
"how many pumps of vanilla are in a tall vanilla latte?" i quizzed him for the millionth time this morning.
"uh, one." he answered while jangling the change in his pocket.
"remember what the general rule for syrups is?" i smiled encouragingly, hoping he'd dust off his neural pathways.
"uh, no." he smiled back at me.
"ok, generally the rule is 3-4-5 for hot drinks. that means three pumps for a tall, four pumps for a grande and five pumps for a venti. so, how many pumps go into a tall vanilla latte?"
"vanilla?" he answered my question with another question.
"yeah, how many pumps of vanilla go into a tall vanilla latte?"
"vanilla goes into a vanilla latte, right?"
"yes." i took a deep breath so that i could remain calm. "the general syrup rule for hot drinks is 3-4-5, so how many pumps of vanilla syrup would you put in a tall vanilla latte?"
"uh, five." he smiled again.
"remember - three pumps for a tall, four pumps for a grande and five pumps for a venti. so, how many pumps go into a tall?"
"i don't remember."
"three." i told him through gritted teeth. "three pumps of vanilla are in a tall vanilla latte. again - how many pumps are in a tall vanilla latte?"
"it gets vanilla!" he beamed, so proud of himself.

i swear, this guy makes sean penn in 'i am sam' look like a friggen' rhodes scholar.

barista rant: don't bitch at me because there's no soy milk at the condiment bar. don't complain about how 'eco-unfriendly' bux is because we don't have a designated pitcher of soy milk at your disposal. first - how the hell does having a pitcher of soy milk at the condiment bar make one 'eco-friendly'. second - it would be MORE wasteful for us to constantly supply soy milk at the condiment bar since we have to DUMP any left over milk after thirty minutes time! and third - you nitwit! all you had to do was ask for some soy milk and we would have given it to you. the time you wasted bitching at me could have been spent enjoying your damn coffee!


human touch

sometimes there are occupational hazards to being a barista.
i'm not talking about steam wand burns, box-cutter wounds or pulled muscles from carrying multiple gallons of milk. i'm talking about barista molestation.

now, one of the great things about working as a barista is getting to know our regular customers. they come in daily to joke with us, and tell us about their personal lives - and usually that's the extent of our interaction. but there are some days when talking isn't enough to satisfy a customer.

i have been squeezed, hugged, and petted too many times to count. and these customers are tricky and quick; they always wait until you've turned your attention to something else before they thrust themselves upon you. i've had my hand grabbed and kissed while i was giving someone a pastry, my hair caressed when i was changing a trash can in the lobby and my fingers caught in the paws of an affectionate customer when i took his credit card from him.

the latest incident happened while i was restocking the gums and mints at the register, which required me to leave the safety of my usual spot behind the bar and join the 'civilians' on the other side of the counter. while i put the little tin containers where they belonged, i felt two hands on my shoulders. before i could react i was being massaged by some customer.

"there you go brat, you deserve it." the voice of one of our regulars told me.
"haha, yeah." i answered uncomfortably as i wriggled free of his grip.
"now, i wouldn't do this for just any barista." he raised his eyebrows at me and i ran behind the pastry case so that i would be out of his reach.

"brat, i heard you got the 'special treatment' too." awesomely amazing barista said to me later that day.
"he did it to me as well and i was so conflicted." she wrinkled her nose. "i so didn't want him touching me, but i really needed the massage!"

now, both of us knew this regular didn't mean to come off as creepy, and i'm sure he really was just being nice, but it's difficult for us baristas at times like these. we don't want react harshly with a loud "HANDS OFF!" and get in our fighting stance, especially when previous to the encounter the customer has been princely. nor do we want to seem in any way encouraging. there's a fine art to setting one's boundaries without making the other party feel defensive and unfortunately it seems i'm not very artistic.

partner rant: it's ok to be frustrated. especially when we are understaffed and we have a line out the door. but it is not ok to yell at your fellow baristas. ever. no matter how many drinks you've had to remake or how many customers have asked you for water. respect your fellow baristas, or find someplace else to work.


train in vain

working at bux one tends to become jaded when it comes to fussy customers.
usually it's pretty easy to roll with the punches when a customer bitches that their drink isn't hot enough, their muffin not moist enough, or if the aroma of their coffee doesn't "dance enough" on their tongue.
but even though a complaining customer is par for the course, there are times when you come across a person so mad at the world that they leave a lasting impression.

case in point:
yesterday morning my bux was in a state of flux. we were a person short on the floor, had a brand new trainee (don't worry - i have TONS of stories about this newbie to post) and a steady flow of customers that just wouldn't cease.
unfortunately, when we have to train a newbie on bar, it makes a longer wait for our customers.

now, what people might not realize is that we baristas have NO say in what a newbies training schedule will be. it doesn't matter if we tell our managers that putting a newbie on register training during a busy monday morning rush is insane, or if we explain with great detail that teaching a newbie how to make frappuccinos during the hottest part of the day is idiotic - managers will squeeze newbie training in wherever they see fit, even if it makes no logical sense.

so, yesterday morning we baristas had no choice but to follow the 'wise' decision of our manager and train the newest apron-wearing member of our staff on how to work the espresso bar. as you can rightly guess, customers had to wait an unusually long period to claim the drinks they had ordered several minutes before.
doobie newbie (yes, indeed, this guy enjoys his herbs) was placed in the care of my awesomely amazing fellow barista brat. not only did she have the almost impossible task of teaching doobie newbie how to make drinks, she had to appease the horde of upset customers at the same time. honestly, most of the customers left happy, especially since awesomely amazing barista made sure to apologize to every one of them about the long wait, but there was one woman who made it well known that nothing awesomely amazing barista could say could make her happy.

"is mine ready yet?" she hissed at awesomly amazing barista. "i've been waiting forever!"
"yours is up right now," aab informed her and began to apologize for the dely.
"why the hell are you guys so slow?" she growled. "there's no reason why i should have to wait ten minutes for my drink!"
"i fully understand, and you're right," aab answered her sincerely. "it's just that we are training right now and it takes a little longer to make drinks."
"you guys shouldn't be training right now!" the customer raised her voice to a level that made everyone turn and look in her direction. "that's no way to run a business! you should do your training some other time!"
"i totally agree with you, but i have no control over when they schedule training." aab responded in a kind voice.
"this isn't even right!" the customer screeched and shook her drink at aab. "you put too much milk in it! i ordered an iced latte and there is too much milk here!"
"well, i can remake it for you if you'd like - "
"forget it!" the customer shrilled and grabbed her drink. "i'm never coming back here again. i'm going to phone your manager and complain!: she called out as she made her way to the front door.

none of us were surprised when the phone rang and a highly tense woman's voice demanded to speak with the manager. upset that there wasn't a manager around to bitch at, she settled for one of the shift supervisors.

"you guys, that lady was so pissed!" the shift supervisor told aab and i after hanging up the phone. "she complained about the service, the wait, the training and the 'extra' milk in her cup. but she also SPECIFICALLY complained about the 'puerto rican looking fella that probably barely speaks english and stood there like an idiot staring at the cup'."
now, i myself, get frustrated with doobie newbie's inability to move beyond a snail's pace, but her comment was still somewhat shocking.
"and when i asked her if there was anything i could do to fix her experience," he continued, "she just yelled at me. she said, 'i'm just gonna toss my latte, drink my soda and be unhappy!'"

can i just say we will not miss her patronage?

barista rant: please don't plop your baby on the register counter, then walk away. i'm sure you thought that since i was standing right there, i would ensure your baby wouldn't fall to the floor, or start chewing on the paperclip next to her. i'm sure you figured that since you were only 'gonna take a second!' to browse our display shelves, we would have no problem entertaining your little angel. well, guess what - baristas do not babysit. we are not here to keep your kid from injuring herself while you choose between a green or purple commuter mug. be a parent and keep an eye on your own kid!!!

bonus question post!

i promised to answer questions that were left in the comment section of 'absence makes the brat gripe harder'.

here they are:
mellowlee said...
Im so glad to see you back. Sorry you had such a crap week. As soon as I saw the Orange flavoured drinks at my bux, I thought of you. Are these syrups limited time only? or are you stuck with em?

yes, it appears we are stuck with them. and i'm sure you can guess i'm thrilled with that.

Schlatko said...
Hey Brat!

Let me ask you something.
Do you have a problem at your store with partners (both at your store and at others) not charging for extras such as added syrups, caramel sauce, heavy whipping cream added to drinks, and other stuff.... meaning when you are on register and ring up the drink correctly the customer gets all pissy because their drink is now a wallet-breaking sixty-three cents more than what they paid before?
I've been having this problem a lot lately and it's starting to get to me. I'm really tired of looking like the bad guy and that I don't know what I'm doing.... when in reality I'm the one doing things correctly?
Was just wondering if you had the same issue.

yes. this happens all the time. bux doesn't charge for extra whipped cream, or extra caramel (so long as the drink recipe already came with caramel) but ALL the time we have people claiming that no other bux charges for soy or breve.

delect said...
Hey Brat, new reader here.
I need some help. I go to a really busy bucks near work and I am all about quick order, quick pay, quick tip, patient waiting. I need to change my drink, they are making it too sweet, so.. in starbonics...how do i order a grande americano with a shot of vanilla syrup and some non fat foam on top? Help please.. thanks.

first i need to know if you mean 'pump' when you say 'shot'. for grande drinks we use four pumps of syrup, so if you want all four pumps you just need to ask for a grande vanilla americano topped with nonfat foam. if you want only one pump you ask for a grande one pump vanilla americano topped with nonfat foam.
hope this helps!

Melissa said...
Brat- Love starbucks. Yummy. I always get an 8 pump Venti Chai Latte w/ no water.
But, i have a question- Those Banana Dolce Coffee Cakes; do you get them whole sale? And if so, from where? I have been trying to get the recipe but to no avail.... What company makes them???

i could be wrong about this, but my understanding was that different regions have different pastry suppliers. my store doesn't even have banana dolce coffee cakes - we have banana chocolate coffee cakes instead. sorry!

SkippyMom said...
Um, Brat...do you need bail money? 'Cause you know when I was married to my ex I became totally ace at getting him outta jail...so, if, y'know - you finally took out one of the customers I would SO come bail you out...and then I could hide you in VA! hee....
Seriously...we hope you are okay.
Take care and let us know if you need anything, 'kay?

haha, thanks for frontin' me! i'm saving my tips to pay you back!


mortal combat

dearest readers -
once again i must apologize for my lack of updates. i can promise, however, that by july i should have more time to blog.
so many things have happened at bux in the past couple weeks, and i have SEVERAL stories with which to regale you, but i think today i must focus on an even that happened this past weekend.

now you might recall my post about our infamous scammers – mr. and mrs. moocher. well, since their scam was no longer working at my bux they decided to “patronize” the other bux’ in my district. apparently they’ve been quite successful because it had been several weeks since they’d made an appearance in my store.

last week, though, i was informed of a mrs. moocher sighting. apparently her husband now waits in the car while she tries to pay only eighty cents for two grande drips, two venti ice waters and two empty cups (that she fills with milk from the condiment bar). so when she came in on one of my shifts, i was ready to (once again) inform her of our refill policy and charge her the correct amount.
what i wasn’t ready for, however, was the verbal lashing she had well-rehearsed just for my benefit.

“brat!” she pointed at me after a fellow barista had called me out of the backroom. “i have a bone to pick with you.”
“with me?” i asked with a smile. honestly i had no clue as to what her problem was, but i was amused nonetheless.
“yes, you!” she gently pounded her aged fist on the counter. “you have mortally offended me!”

i guess i didn’t give her the reaction she wanted because she repeated twice more that i had “mortally offended” her. it took every ounce of self control to keep from chuckling because i kept thinking “hey, if i ‘mortally offended’ you, then shouldn’t you be dead?”.

“brat, i always liked you,” she lied, “and i never, ever had a problem with you,” she continued to lie, “but now i am so upset that i don’t even think i want to buy coffee from you anymore!”

to my credit i was nice and did not flippantly remind her that she barely “pays” for coffee in the first place, nor did i inform her that i would in fact be quite content if she chose to no longer try and run her scam on me.

“it has been several weeks since i’ve even been here, you know, and i’m so, so upset because i’m so offended.” she rattled semi-cohenrently. “you know, we don’t always come to this store – sometimes we go to other starbucks. we are very loyal customers, you know.”
“yeah, i’ve seen you at other stores before.” i answered evenly – still not sure of what i had done to “mortally offend” her.
“well, we went to a different starbucks, and before i even ordered my coffee the boy working there said to me, ‘i know who you are. you always try to get things for free – brat at the other store warned me about you.’ and i was so upset and embarrassed!”

now i was surprised for a couple of reasons. first, it seemed odd to me that someone at another store would just come out and tell mrs. moocher that they had been warned about her. secondly, what would make mrs. moocher think baristas WEREN’T talking about her and her scamming husband?

“well, i’m sorry if you were offended –”
“mortally offended!” mrs. moocher interrupted me. “he named you specifically! i was so hurt that you would spread lies about me to someone i’ve never even met before!”
“first off, i have no idea who you’re talking about.” i told her honestly. “and how can you be sure he was telling you the truth?”
“but he named you specifically! he said YOU warned him about ME!” she cried out while shaking her empty coffee cup. “not only that, he got in trouble with his manager because he refused to give me my discount.”
“listen," i told her evenly and calmly. "we get in trouble if we don’t follow policy. i'm only doing my job when i charge you for your grande drips. there's no reason to be offended because i've done my job and another barista happens to know that."
"YOU listen," she pointed her finger at me. "what YOU should be concerned about is whether someone comes in with a gun and shoots you dead. or if they jump over the counter and rob you! you should NOT be so concerned with how much i pay for my coffee!"
"it's true," i conceded before launching into my own tirade. "being robbed is a huge concern, however that doesn't mean i completely ignore policy and let you pay whatever you want just because i don't want to be shot!"
"well, i would never expect you to not do your job." she said in a tone that was part sarcastic and part complimentary. "let's just say this: let's start fresh next time i come in. you have apologized and i accept your apology. perhaps we can forget all this ever happened." she offered before leaving (WITHOUT her two forty cent refills, i must add).

my fellow baristas had a good laugh about my tongue-lashing, their favorite quote now being "brat, you have mortally offended me!".
but the best part of the story hasn't even been told yet!
a few days after mrs. moocher chewed me out, one of my favorite baristas ever came into my bux. he and i used to work together quite often before he was transferred to the bux across town.

"hey brat!" he called out before giving me a hug. "you'll never believe who showed up at my store - mrs. moocher!"
i laughed and began to fill him in on me having 'mortally offended' her, but he interrupted me.
"what a liar!" he shook his head. "she came in and tried to run her scam on me, but i told her 'hey - i know who you are! you used to come into my old store all the time and try to get freebies and discounted drinks.' she tried to deny it until i said 'lady - i worked with brat at the other store. i was there when she told you that you had to pay regular price - so don't think just because i'm at a different store that i'm gonna forget to charge you correctly'."

now i can't wait for mrs. moocher to come back to my store. i have a feeling that she'll be quite disappointed that i'm not so willing to "start fresh".

customer rant: please, please, please let me know if you are out of iced coffee! pouring hot coffee over ice cubes is NOT the same beverage at all! especially DON'T pull this stunt with me since i work with you! if anyone can taste the difference, it's a fellow barista - and if anyone should know better it's the baristas i work with.


absence makes the brat gripe harder

sorry for the lack of posts!!!
not only have i been racking up the hours at bux, but i've been VERY busy in my non-barista life.
hopefully an extra long tirade today will make up for my tardiness.

gripe #1
- we've had an unusually high number of partners in our district calling out because of sickness. my manager pleaded with me to close six nights in a row (yes, that included the whole weekend) and i (stupidly) complied. really, i don't mind closing. i usually have 1-2 closing shifts a week and as i've stated before i think closers work harder and have more work than the openers or mid-dayers, nevertheless i was geared up for my closing shifts and walked in each afternoon with a positive attitude.
well, at least for three days i did.
by day four i had trouble holding in my annoyance with the morning and mid crews. for the fourth day in a row nothing was prepped for the closers. since i mostly do mid-days i know exactly what needs to be done to prepare the store for the closers, but since i was closing there was no one to ensure good shifts were turned over to me. nothing had been deep cleaned, the pastry case hadn't been turned over, nor had the rtd case been stocked. mind you, for three nights we closers punched out twenty minutes after our scheduled time because we set the openers up for success. i had a discussion with mr. split personality assistant manager, who basically blamed it all on the 'other baristas'.
that night after my close - for the first time in months - i had an anxiety dream about work.
the next day i was prepared to walk into another disaster shift, but much to my surprise i was greeted with cheers from my fellow baristas.
"brat's here!" they all called out when i entered the store.
"yay - i get to work with brat today!" two baristas, who i hadn't worked with in weeks, exclaimed.
i wish i could describe how great it feels to see your co-workers perk up and cheer when you walk into a room. especially after having such a horrid dream about bux.
fortunately for me perky assistant manager was running the mid-shift and turned over an amazingly prepped store to me. i ended up having one of the best shifts ever and had no trouble getting my positive attitude back - which was so necessary because i NEEDED it to carry me through the next night's closing shift.
but the worst part of this experience was having my manager bitch at me about going over in labor.
"brat, you really should have been cutting hours, not staying twenty minutes over!" he chided me.
"well, next time i'll know to do that." i replied sarcastically. "we'll just forgo cleaning and prepping for the openers."
"brat, you should be able to do all your work AND cut hours."
suffice it to say, i was pissed. so when my manager asked me yesterday if i could pick up two shifts this week, i answered with a quick and definitive 'NO'.
i might have made an enemy of my manager, but after my hellish closing stretch, i don't care.

gripe #2
- i've ranted about this before, but it needs to be revisited. what is it with customers that needlessly bug the barista on bar?!? asking for straws, cups of water and sleeves is annoying, but at least it makes sense. bitching to the barista on bar that you're waiting for your ground coffee is stupid. really, do you see a grinder anywhere near the bar?!? also, asking the barista on bar for tissue paper, bags, or what song is playing is equally dumb. and yet there seems to be an insane number of customers who do this. not only that - they all seem to do it when it is quite clear the barista has a number of drinks on the bar and is working their little green apron tails off.
if you asked for a pound of coffee to be ground - then go bug the person who GROUND the coffee!
if you bought a mug and want a bag - then go ask the person who rang you up for the damn mug for a bag!
let the barista on bar do their job and make the twenty drinks they have in front of them, ok?

gripe #3
- in my bux we have 23 open syrups at any given time. a handful of them are duplicates for the cold beverage station, but still - 23 effin' syrups!?! what the hell!
bux just introduced new drinks with our new orange syrup. now, at one time we had valencia syrup that we used for iced teas and for valencia mochas (a drink that almost no one ordered), but now it has been replaced with a sickly sweet, fluorescent colored liquid that hasn't even a hint of natural flavors.
of course that doesn't matter to the customers who live for even more options to add to their already high-maintenance beverages. the thing bux doesn't seem to realize is that we don't gain any NEW customers when we add new drinks to the menu. instead we get regulars who switch their drink for a few weeks before returning to their old standard.
why is it that baristas know this, but the head honchos in seattle haven't figured it out yet?
btw, corporate - our stocks have (yet again) dropped. guess the new orange syrup wasn't the success you though it would be, eh?

partner rant: don't reward jerk customers! seriously! mr. whim came in again and of course was up to his old tricks. it's one thing to remake a drink for the jerk, but don't give him two free drink coupons for 'his trouble'. you know he's full of bull, so why give him a lucrative reason to complain? now he's going to demand a free drink coupon every time he comes in and makes up a reason why his drink wasn't right. please, save the free coupons for customers who deserve them, not for the jerks with attitude.


pick a card - any card

i've posted before about scammers with fake money, fake coupons, fake gift certificates and fake receipts.
this morning, however, i was shocked when a customer handed me a fake partner card.

for those of you who might not know, each barista is issued a card that has their name and partner number on it. it has a magnetic strip, just like the gift cards (in fact, partners can use their partner card as a debit card if they so wish) and is supposed to be swiped every time a barista wants to use their partner discount.
most bux used to be pretty lenient when it came to the partner discount: so long as someone rattled off their partner number and their name, they could get their 30% off. of course partners helped their family and friends memorize their number so they too could partake of the discount, which is why bux has cracked down on partner discounts. now policy states that a partner must bring in their company issued partner card, as well as a valid id, if they want their 30% off.

so this morning a customer came in and ordered three drinks, as well as three pastries. when i gave him the total he responded with an "i'm a partner" and handed me his 'partner card'.

"so you have money left on this?" i asked him as i looked over the card for store credit that he'd handed me.
"that's my partner card!" he said in a huffy tone.

for a second i was perplexed, because really i didn't think anyone would be so stupid to think that writing random digits on a card that clearly states 'store credit' would fool a bux barista.
the customer was getting visibly upset with me but again i asked him if there was store credit left on the card.

"i told you already - that's my damn partner card!" he growled.
"really, you're a partner?" i asked incredulously. "what store do you work at?"
"none of your business!" was his mature response.
"well, how many pumps of vanilla syrup go into a venti vanilla bean frappuccino?"
i knew that if he really was a partner he'd know it was a trick question since vanilla bean frappuccinos use powder, and not syrup.
"five." he answered solidly.
"nope." i smirked and again repeated the total for his order.
"you're a bitch!" he spat and snatched his 'partner card' from out of my hands before storming out of my bux.

sadly his scam, bad as it is, will probably fool a barista at a different bux.

barista rant: don't throw a hissy because i wouldn't steam your soy milk to 200 degrees. when i was a newbie barista i once made the mistake of going against policy and attempted to steam milk to that temperature. i ended up with burns on my hand - a painful way to discover why bux puts limits on the temperatures we steam to. don't tell me that the other baristas do it, or that you have a medical condition that necessitates your soy milk to be boiled before you consume it. i will not put myself in harm's way ever again for a customer's whim, so if you need your beverage scalded, i suggest you buy some heavy duty gloves because you'll have to do it yourself!


(re)make up your mind

i’ve ranted before about customers who hold up the line while they spend twenty minutes figuring out whatever it is they want to order. what’s worse is when they decide what they ordered isn’t what they really wanted after all.
this morning a woman asked the register partner to describe every drink on the menu. and when she’d finally narrowed down her choices she wanted a sample of each of them “so i can be sure i like what I’m ordering!”.

she decided on a grande soy mocha (after trying it with whole, nonfat, percent and organic milk). i made her drink in record time (so that she’d finally leave our store) and after two sips she decided she wanted something else.

“i don’t think this is right.” she wrinkled her nose and pushed the drink back towards me.
“you ordered a grande soy mocha, yeah?” i asked her – a bit defensively since i’d been the one to make the samples for her.
“yes, but i don’t think i like it. i think i want to try it with white mocha instead.”

i wasn’t thrilled about remaking the drink for her, but i figured the quicker she got it the quicker she would leave. so after expediting her soy white mocha i bid her a good day.

“excuse me, but i don’t think i like this.” she said after another two sips.
“what’s wrong with it?” i asked, pissed because i knew she was going to want me to remake it yet again.
“i think i want it iced instead. it’s so hot out there today!” she said with a smile, as if that would make everything better.

so i made her wait until i finished the three drinks i already had on bar, which ended up being a good thing because right as i pulled the shots for her new drink she informed me that she wanted it blended instead. i didn’t take the time to explain that we can’t blend soy drinks. instead i threw together a frappuccino and slid it to her as soon as it was done.

“thank y-”
“bye.” i interrupted her and went back to making drinks.

before she left our store she turned around and began to say something to me, but i shot her a look that let her know she wasn’t going to get another remake. finally she left and i said a prayer to the bean gods so she’ll never come back to our bux again.

partner rant: don’t get upset if i remind you how to make a drink. don’t yell at a newbie because she told you to reset the timers every time you brew coffee. and don’t bad mouth the manager because he asked you to come to work in proper dress code. if you can’t handle the job then you should find another one.


doggone doozy

i've ranted about vanity dogs and their owners before. the folks that believe their beloved 'fifi' is actually a human offspring and not of the canine variety. every week someone ignores our clearly displayed "no pets" sign and saunters right in with their four legged friend.

"i'm sorry, but we can't have dogs in here." i always inform them. "but i'll be happy to bring your drink out to you when it's ready."
"but i'm HOLDING her!" the customer will say, as if that makes a difference.
"but i'm only going to be a second!" a different customer will protest.
"why isn't mr. peaches allowed in here? it's not like you serve food!" a truly clueless customer will reason.

usually we only have to go one round with the dog-loving customers, but of course there's ALWAYS an exception.

my bux's exception is named marcy.
marcy has a dog named max.
marcy loves max more than life itself. i know this because marcy tells us this everytime she brings max into the store.
usually we spot marcy in the parking lot and have her drink ready before she even makes it to the front door. other times, however, marcy and max make it into the store where they cause quite a fuss.

this past week's episode of 'the max and marcy show' was legendary.

"hi marcy, you know the rules - "
"don't give me that b.s.! you always tell me max can't be in the store so why is that guy in the corner allowed to have his dog?" marcy stuck her finger in perky assistant manager's face.
"marcy, only service animals are allowed inside." perky assistant manager didn't flinch.
"oh, so when it's someone you like you bend the rules, huh?" marcy raised her voice so the customer with the service dog could hear.
"no marcy," perky assistant manager sighed. "that's the law. health code says no animals unless it's a service animal."
"so how do you know he's a service animal, huh? did he tip you extra or something?" marcy was getting louder and max was starting to growl.
"um, the red vest with the words 'service animal' is how we can tell." perky assistant manager was getting angry.
"so, if i dress max up in a little red outfit, then he can stay?" marcy glared at my assistant manager.
"no marcy." perky assistant manager was having no more of max and marcy. "you know the rules. if you can't obey them then you can't come back here."
finally marcy and max left, but not before she bitched us out some more about not letting her beloved dog inside.

but here's the kicker:
today was my day off and i was running errands. i went to the bank and as i walked through the parking lot i saw marcy and max getting out of her car. sure, she was holding max in her arms but inside the car i could clearly see a toddler in a carseat! i didn't even know she had a friggen' kid! she locked her car and then took max into the bank with her while her child was left in his carseat. as soon as i got inside the bank i told the guard about marcy and her kid. he immediately walked over to her and told her that if she didn't get her child out from the backseat he'd call the police. marcy raised a huge fuss (are you surprised) but finally aquiesced.
it sickens me to know she cares more about a dog than the safety of a child. and it makes me nauseous to think that perhaps that poor kid has been left in the car when she brings max into my bux.

customer rant: when i ask for an americano with no room, don't ask me to repeat my order in spanish. are you kidding me?!? if you need your customers to speak your native tongue so that you can understand them, then maybe you shouldn't be working the register. i know how to order my drinks correctly. 'tall americano - no room' is quite clear, even if english isn't your first language.


best of the worst

some of my favorite exchanges from this weekend:

barista brat: venti nonfat latte on the bar!
customer: is this the soy latte?
barista brat: the decaf grande soy no foam latte?
customer: yeah, is this it?
barista brat: no, this is still a venti nonfat latte.

barista buddy: can i help the next person in line?
clueless customer: are you talking to me?
barista buddy: sure, if you're ready to order.
clueless customer: wait, are you talking to me?
barista buddy: yes. i. am. talking. to. you.
clueless customer: am i the next person in line?
barista buddy: no, the invisible man is. i'll help you as soon as i'm done with him.

teenager: if i give you a big tip will you give me a drink for free?
barista brat: how about you don't tip me at all and pay the regular price.
teenager: but i don't have enough money.
barista brat: so how were you supposed to tip?
teenager: ok, i wasn't really going to tip you. i just wanted a discount. is there a discount for being honest?

high-strung lady: you breathed in my cup!
newbie: excuse me?
high-strung lady: you breathed in my cup!
newbie: all i did was put syrup in it.
high-strung lady: i know! and as you did it you breathed right into it. i heard you! you made a noise like this - 'shhhuhhhshhuhh'.
newbie: did it sound like this?
*newbie adds two more pumps of syrup to the cup*
high-strung lady: yes, it sounded exactly like that, except you made the noise with your mouth.

barista rant: don't ask me, the barista at bar, if you have all your drinks. YOU are the person who ordered them. YOU should remember how many drinks you paid for. what makes you think that i will know what you ordered when i was not the person who rang you up? do you just randomly order beverages? is it some sort of espresso lottery? if it is too hard to keep track then maybe you should keep a list, or at least order them all under the same name instead of having us write a different name on each cup.


quit talking:talk quitting

the talker, alas, is no longer with us.

you might recall that he and the partner-formerly-known-as-amorous had a mutual detestation of each other.
not a shift could pass without them arguing, bitching or complaining. not a week passed without the entire store knowing the drama that unfolded between the two of them. it didn't matter how many 'coaching conversations' were had or how many times the manager threatened to write them up, nothing could keep these two from their verbal warfare.

from the get-go is was clear that pfkaa was the dominant combatant. she had the better comebacks and the tougher skin. the talker, on the other hand, was all emotion with none of the wit. and as soon as pfkaa would wail particularly hard on him, he'd escape to the backroom to have a cry.
except he called it a "moment of personal reflection".

"i really don't want to argue with her," the talker once confided to me. "i'm really above all that, but i just can't take her talking crap about you and everyone else in the store."
"well, let me and everyone else fight our own battles." i replied, knowing he was full of it. "if you're above it, then don't participate."

of course the talker was never "above it" and their arguments only increased in vitriol and volume. finally the manager sat both of them down and informed them that if they couldn't get along, then one of them would have to be transferred.

"well, it's not going to be me because i've been here the longest!" the talker proclaimed shortly after his meeting with the manager.
"dude, i'm not going anywhere!" pfkaa shot right back at him. "i already had to transfer once because of stupid drama."
"you're the reason for all the drama." the talker was holding back tears. "i used to love it here, but now i hate it. you've made my life a living hell!"
"what life?" pfkaa smirked. "like eating marked out pastries at home alone is living."
i'm sure the talker was just waiting to unload with some biting reply, except that he had to run to the backroom for his cry.

as promised, the manager decided to transfer one of them. he decided the talker would be a "better fit" for the store down the street, but the talker wasn't having any of it.
"i'm not going anywhere!" the talker said to the manager.
"i'm sorry but i gave you fair warning." the manager told him as he handed the talker his schedule for the other bux.
"this bites!" the talker started to cry again. "i quit! if i can't work here, then i'm quitting."

the talker ended up quitting on the spot, not bothering to finish off his last week at our bux. although i don't blame him for quitting, i certainly don't feel sorry for him.
now, if we can only get the manager to get rid of pfkaa...

barista rant: yelling "hey!" to the back of my head is useless. especially since i'm blending frappuccinos and i can't hear you. snapping your fingers doesn't help, nor does banging on the counter. and why was it so necessary to get my attention? why did you bypass the barista on bar to yell at me? especially when you ordered an espresso drink and not a frappuccino? and when i finally finished with the blenders and came over to help you, you barked that your drink wasn't hot enough. how the hell is that my problem? complain to the barista that actually handed you the drink!



some customers have the gift of the gab. they come in, exchange pleasantries and regale us baristas with fantastic tales and humorous stories.
and then there are the customers who have a chronic case of verbal diarrhea and will talk at us non-stop, even as we back away and try to flee to the backroom.

yesterday one of our regular non-stop talkers came in for his daily latte. usually he spends about five minutes talking himself up and trying to impress us baristas with his 'a-list' clientele. but yesterday he was in a bad mood and his five minutes turned into fifteen.

"you know, brat - normally i'm calm and cool, but sometimes in my line of work i have to deal with bullshit that just puts me over the edge."
"hm. that's too bad," i answered automatically as i finished changing the pastries in the case.
"oh yeah, and i hate when i get like this. i hate feeling like this. i hate seeing other people's reactions to me when i'm over the edge." he continued as he mirrored my journey to the trash can and then back to the pastry case.
"hope things get better for you." i smiled, trying to do my best 'the conversation is now over' face.
"see, even my business partner could tell i was pissed. look at this text message he just sent me!" he tried to hand me his phone and i just glanced at it and nodded while i cleaned the outside of the pastry case.
"and now i have to drive to the airport and pick up one of my clients, which i really don't want to do since i'm in such a bad mood." he continued, even though i had walked away and started to stock cups and lids.
"well, drive safe!" i tried to end the conversation again, but he wasn't ready to leave.
"you know, i just like it when everyone is happy. when everyone is in a good mood - and now i'm gonna have to face my client and pretend i'm interested in what he's saying when i couldn't care less about his problems!"
"yeah - i hate that." i replied, hoping he'd catch the hint.
"hopefully his plane won't be late - that way i can still go out with this hot little russian student i sometimes see." he paused to see my reaction and when i didn't say anything he continued.
"you know, i might be older but i'm still fit. i'm in good shape and this little russian student is crazy about the fact that i'm crazy about her." again he paused but i'd moved on to cleaning the cabinets.
"brat, i offered to take you out before but you turned me down. now even if you wanted to go out with me i wouldn't be able to because of my young russian student."
"i'm glad you two are happy," i replied and then escaped to the backroom for my break.

when i returned ten minutes later, mr. over-the-edge was still hanging out in the lobby. he'd found a new target to talk to repeated, almost verbatim, the same things he'd just told me.

"you jealous?" barista buddy teased me when the non-stop talker left. "you totally missed your chance to see how fit he is!"

i'm hoping his tirade is shorter next time or i'll be the one going over the edge.

customer rant: your hair is beautiful, truly it is. i can totally tell that you take pride in your cascading ringlets, but please, when you're at work, tie your hair back! as you worked behind the bar your hair not only landed in the milk pitchers but got tangled up on the whipped cream container as well. one of your wayward locks even managed to get stuck on a syrup pump, sending three bottles crashing to the floor. i tell you, never was i more thankful that i had ordered a drip coffee instead of a bar drink.