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.