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.


to bux, with love

dear bux,

hi! how's it going? just wanted to drop you a line and let you know how things have been at my store.

as i'm sure you already know, we did not make our sales goal for the brewing event. even though we wasted barista hours with daily demos, and giving away free lattes made with the machines that were on sale, we still fell flat and were nowhere close to making our goal. of course, a large percentage of our customers are kids from the four neighboring schools around us, and even though they are from very affluent families it was pretty obvious that none of them were going to throw down several hundred dollars for an espresso machine (especially when all they order is frappuccinos).

but i digress.

what i really wanted to talk to you about was our new drinks. you know the ones i'm talking about: the dulce de leche latte and the dulce de leche frappuccino.
now i've been instructed to sample our new beverages every half hour. i know, i know, you expect us to sample ALL the time - not just when we have new beverages, but you know what? in all the time i've worked for bux i've NEVER had a customer sample a beverage and then order it.
a sample for the customer is just a mini-freebie. that's all. not only that, every day three to five people come in asking for samples of drinks and pastries and then leave after we've given it to them. you understand? they don't order a single thing except for the sample.

also, do you remember bringing back the cinnamon dolce latte and cinnamon dolce frappuccino a short while ago? not only that, last year you introduced the iced cafe con leche. so you know what is now happening in my bux? we have customers asking for "cinnamon dulce de latte cafe con leches".

that's right.
and what follows is a five minute conversation while we, the baristas, try to figure out which drink the customer really wants. and then they get huffy with us because they felt stupid while ordering their drink. meanwhile the line of customers behind mr./ms. huffy is growing longer and more agitated by the moment.
and yet you expect us to hand a customer their drink within three minutes of them entering our store. let me tell you - that is not possible when we have to upsell, explain the menu, fix mis-ordered drinks and sample all at the same time.

so please, bux - take a cue from christina aguilera and get 'back to basics'.


barista brat

partner rant: please don't call me on my day off to tell me how bored you are at work. don't ask me if i'll come in for you so you can go party. and CERTAINLY don't ask if i'll call other stores to cover your shift. it's my friggen' day off!


easter dummies

i usually love to work holidays because (for the most part) customers are all smiles and business tends to be slower. today, however, there were several exceptions to the general rule.

MANY people decided bux coffee would go great with their easter brunch, so we had a rash of people ordering our coffee travellers. now usually people will phone these orders in ahead of time, but not today. we had several customers walk in, order a traveller (plus all the condiments) and expect us to have it ready for them in under three minutes. since it takes four minutes just to brew a batch of coffee it is impossible to hand over a traveller as soon as a customer orders one (which is exactly why most people call ahead).
most of the customers understood that it would be a short wait for their travellers, but there were two separate customers who decided it was perfectly acceptable to raise holy hell.
"isn't this starbucks?" one lady sneered at me. "aren't you guys supposed to ALWAYS have coffee?"
"certainly we have coffee, but i need to brew a batch especially for the coffee traveler you ordered." i informed her with gritted teeth.
"i can't believe this!" she complained two minutes later. "that lady just got her drink and she was BEHIND me in line!"
"ma'am," i tried to keep an even tone, "if you'd ordered a latte then you would've gotten your beverage before her."
"just hurry it up!" she snapped at me and gave me the stink eye until her order was ready.
the other customer wasn't as rude, but was just as big of a pain. hating that he'd have to wait a few minutes while the coffee was brewing, he tried to argue that he deserved some sort of compensation for his time. i agreed to let him have a free drip coffee, but he wanted a frappuccino. he also wanted free pastries and a free sandwich. when i refused he gave me a sour look and said "well, i see YOU'RE not in a giving mood this holiday."
"i thought christmas was the time for gift giving, not easter." i smiled at him and bid him a good day.

but the craziest story of the day was the elderly couple who ordered five different beverages. the register partner handed them their venti drip coffee while they waited for me to make their four bar drinks. the husband attempted to fit his venti drip coffee in the carrying tray i'd handed him and ended up splashing a bit of the coffee on his hand.
"OW, OW, GODDAMMIT!" he howled and jumped up and down. "DAMN IT! DAMN IT! THAT COFFEE IS PIPING HOT!"
"let me get you some ice and a towel." i offered right away, although it was clear only a drop of coffee escaped from the lid.
"GIVE ME ICE! GODDAMMIT THIS HURTS!" he continued to howl and nurse his hand.
i offered him some burn cream but his wife just waved me off and said the ice was good enough.
by the time i'd finished making the rest of the drinks he'd calmed down.
"what is this drink?" the man pointed to his cup of coffee. "is this the coffee? because i ordered a coffee."
"uh, yes. that's the coffee." i told him, bewildered that he seemed to have forgotten making such a scene about the coffee just minutes earlier.
"just wanted to make sure i wasn't taking someone else's drink!" he said as he placed the cup of coffee in the tray, splashing a bit on his hand in the process.
but this time there were no theatrics and he went on his merry way.

barista rant: LISTEN for your drink! i'm tired of calling a drink out repeatedly, only to have it sit on the bar and grow cold. and by the time you saunter over to the counter to pick it up, you complain that it's not hot enough. and then you want a free drink coupon since you "had to wait" for me to remake your lukewarm drink. pay attention if you want your latte hot!


tales from the bright side

sometimes, when there's a rash of jerk customers (like the other day), it's tempting to quit. but then there are other days where the customers are all great, or someone makes you laugh so hard that it's totally worth it to wear the green apron.

favorite funny bux stories so far this week:
- a group of rowdy middle grade boys came in and were very disruptive. the were so loud i had to play the "if you can't behave, you'll have to leave" card. meanwhile an employee from the burger shop next to us came in for his drink.
"hey, why did your boss kick us out yesterday?" one of the boys asked the burger shop employee.
"because you guys are loud, obnoxious and messy." he answered with a smile.
"but she can't throw us out just because she doesn't like us!" another boy piped up.
"guys, i know that you know the reason why she kicked you out. all you have to do is be cool and then you can hang out all night long." he told them as they gathered their things to leave my store.
"hey, guys!" the burger employee called them back before they'd walked out. "you see this?" he pointed to the mess on the table and chairs in the aisle. "this is the reason people don't want you in their place of business. now clean all this up and apologize to the starbucks workers for being bad customers."
unbelievably the boys did exactly what they were told - even apologizing to us.
"you want a job here?" i teased the burger employee after the boys had left.
"hell no!" he laughed. "at my store i can kick those snots out any time i want!"

- (this happened at my fellow barista brat's bux) a kid walked into the store and gabbed a root beer from the display case and brought it to the counter. after paying for the soda, and putting the change in the tip jar, he returned the root beer to the display case and started to leave the store.
"hey!" the register partner called out to the kid. "aren't you going to take your soda? you just paid for it!"
"yeah, but i stole one last week and my mom made me come back just to pay for it."

- a tall guy in a suit came in and stood in line, the whole time he was on the phone. when it came is turn to order he put the phone down and asked barista buddy if he remembered him.
"i'm not sure - i'm sorry." barista buddy apologized, thinking he had messed this guy's drink up in the past.
"well, i came in about a month ago and ordered an iced latte, but i left my wallet at the office and you went ahead and gave me the drink and told me i could pay you later."
"oh yeah, ok." barista buddy started to ring the guy up for the latte.
"the rest is for the tip jar." the tall guy said as he handed over a twenty dollar bill. "thanks again for that!" he called out as he left.

- a regular customer came in holding a large pizza box in one hand and a two-liter of coke in the other.
"oh, yay! you brought enough to share!" i teased her as i marked her cup.
"i sure did!" she smiled. "this is for you guys. i left mine in the car." she answered and handed us the pizza and coke. "you guys always make my day, so i figured i could make yours for once!"

partner rant: please don't give out false information to customers. don't tell them that we blend soy drinks, that frappuccino lights are totally calorie free or that all our tea is organic. it doesn't matter that you don't think the customers really care whether you're lying or not. the fact is you're making every other baristas job harder when you give out false information. either learn the real info, or go work someplace else.


three of a(n) UN-kind

some days at bux everything flows smoothly.
and then there are days like today when it seems the world has swallowed a pitch-a-fit pill.

my very first customer of the day ordered a mocha frappuccino light - not a problem. but because the beverage was made correctly (meaning there wasn't extra frappuccino guts left in the blender) the customer decided to raise hell because she felt she was being shorted.
"this isn't really full." she slid the frappuccino back to me. "can you top it off?"
seriously, there was really no room to 'top off' the drink, but that isn't really what the lady wanted. what she wanted was for me to remake the drink and give her two for the price of one. so i blended about an inch more of the mocha frappuccino light and 'topped off' her drink.
"why don't you use a dome lid and pour the rest in?" she said in an amazingly patronizing tone of voice when she saw i was going to dump the last bit of frappuccino down the sink.
"oh, did you want to pay the difference for a larger size?" i smiled, knowing full well it rubbed her the wrong way.
"forget it!" she grabbed her drink and straw. "next time learn how to make the drink right on the first try!"

the second customer was a woman who ordered a double tall nonfat cappuccino. i know that's what she ordered because i heard her order it. i also repeated the order to her before i started foaming the nonfat milk. but when i handed her a double tall nonfat cappuccino she huffed and whined about me getting her drink wrong.
"i ordered a LATTE, not a CAPPUCCINO!" she rolled her eyes.
"i'm sorry," i said none too sincerely. "i thought i heard you say cappuccino, and i know when i verified the order i said cappuccino and not latte."
"ask the guy on register!" the lady shot back defensively. "hey! tell her what drink i ordered!" she called out to barista buddy.
"double tall nonfat cappuccino." barista buddy replied without skipping a beat.
"well, the both of you are deaf," she muttered under her breath.
"guess i must be improving because i had no trouble hearing that." i told her directly before remaking her drink.

the third jerk customer of the day was a guy who decided his time was more valuable than the three people in front of him in line.
"gimme a double espresso, water, tall hot cup." he ordered and tossed two bucks at me and began reading the paper.
of course i wasn't going to rush his order through and instead finished the drinks i had on the bar - including the drinks of the three customers he skipped ahead of.
"sorry sir, did you want two shots with water in a tall hot cup?" i asked to clarify.
"double. espresso. water. tall. hot. cup." the guy responded without even making eye contact with me.
so i made him a lukewarm americano, which is what i understood his order to be.
"what is this?" he wrinkled his brow and looked at me like i'd just placed a cup filled with urine in front of him.
"double espresso and water in a tall cup." this time it was my turn to respond flippantly.
"i wanted a DOUBLE ESPRESSO and a cup of water in a hot cup! separate! not together!" the guy raised his voice at me. "and i ordered it, like, ten minutes ago!"
well, since i was already in a mood because of the mocha frappuccino light lady and the cappuccino lady, i was extra bratty when i responded to the jerk customer.
"oh, you wanted a double espresso separated into two cups? so you want two solo shots of espresso? which one gets water?" i smiled at him. "did you want the water hot? or just a tall hot cup? or did you want -"
"just give me two damn shots of espresso!" he interrupted me.
"gladly!" i said, keeping the fake smile on my face.
and yes, i did give him decaf.

partner rant: if you're going to have someone from another store cover your shift, please make sure they've been with bux for longer than two weeks. getting a brand newbie to cover during a morning rush doesn't do anybody any good. so please, make sure that whoever covers your shift at least knows how to ring and do lobbies.