10.27.2007

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.

49 comments:

barista brat said...

just read all the comments on my last post - have to smile because of all the brat love!

anyway - i need to update my links, so if any of you would like me to add you (or if i've told you in the past that i would, but you're still not up there) please leave your link in this comment box and i will add it!

Sara said...

Welcome back!

rach said...

so just out of curiosity...i didn't get the "i am sofa king we todd did", is that an inside joke or do i need to watch more movies or something?

Anonymous said...

"I am sofa king we todd did" if you say it right, sounds like, "I am so f**king retarded." It took me a few times of reading it, but that's hella funny.

God, those newbies would make me lose my mind.

Manuel said...

If I could just say thanks for linking me that would be great....so Thanks!

Gary said...

Hiya brat. Just wanted to say that I stumbled across your blog a week or so ago and I love it! I have read through all of the archives and I must say I really like your writing style. It's been a few years since I worked retail, but I can totally relate to your experiences.
Good luck with your noobs!

Scott Jones said...

Hey, if you're near Annapolis, MD I'd be glad to give a hand. My manager would hate for me to take shifts at another store when I'm back from school, but you sound like you've got it pretty bad.

Anonymous said...

that joke was mean and funny at the same time.

i'm a newbie myself and have to admit some stuff is not intuitive to me. but i think after working the 9 training shifts, you should know how to make drinks. it's just variations on the same 3 or 4 drinks. but it is tough for people who don't drink espresso drinks. the girl who put a paper cup in the blender, that was just retarded.

the dude who forgot his partner#. Wtf, you punch it in like 20x a day. if you forget, you should just keep a piece of receipt paper with your number on it in your apron. i did that my first day. i still remember my employee numbers from other jobs...

stay strong barista brat! i bet the newbies look up to you. q

James UK said...

Nice to get to read another of your great posts.

Loved the "I'm sofa... gag!

For something very similar, have a look and listen to these great examples of fooling an airport tannoy announcer by getting them to read out fake names... like;

"Aynayda Pizaqvick and Malexa Krest"

("I need a piss quick, and my legs are crossed")

Enjoy. ;-)

realmacchiato said...

Admittedly, it took me about five tries the first time I heard the "sofa king" joke... back in middle school. I have to say though, "Does Not Compute" is my favorite.

I suppose one of the benefits of not working at a chain coffee shop is that we don't get a lot of people who just want to be trendy and work for a coffee shop. Just a few... like everyone who applies, but it much smaller numbers.

Brynne said...

Brat!!! Woo-Hoo! I am so sorry that you are having such a crap time with all of the newbies. leave it to the holidays to bring in the people who just need the extra cash and don't intend on staying longer then the holidays. also (only cause you mentioned it) I finally got a blog. if you want to link to it cool. if you don't I'm not offended. Honestly it's probably not as entertaining as yours is.

Anonymous said...

yay brat is back!

And wow, those are some silly newbies. I remember I once volunteered to make espresso drinks at a convention I went to, and I had the hang of it before too long--granted, we didn't have the rainbow of syrups you have to deal with, and no blender in sight. Hell, I don't think we even had ice. But still.

I think the tagger's stupidity is the most shocking, though. It takes a special kind of bonehead to actually commit vandalism on the store where you are working under your own name. Remarkable.

Stephanie said...

Welcome back!

What's the 3-4-5 rule?

This post is extremely relevant to me right now. My company has hired tons of newbies and I spent the weekend fixing their mistakes. So many of those newbie types exist in the corporate world, too. Welcome to the workforce, Gen Y!

Anonymous said...

As a senior waitress at my restaurant I've seen numerous dunces come and go, and I must say I love reading your caricatures of your stores newbies, however we've all been there before and being slow (or ridiculously slow and stupid as "does not compute") doesn't justify being humiliated in the workplace. If someone is ridiculous to be made fun of, that should happen behind closed doors where that person would never know. No one should be made to feel uncomfortable at work unless they're truly a malicious asshole. I doubt that "joke" made her feel more confident and improved her performance that day!

Pirate Monkey said...

I work with 2 'addicts' myself. On the plus side, I have my area in the office pretty much to myself for 20 minutes every hour!

Gary said...

"What's the 3-4-5 rule?"

From a previous post, even I remember that it means 3 pumps of syrup in a Tall, 4 in a Grande and 5 in a Venti. And I've never worked at Starbucks.

Ya Looblue said...

yay! brat is home! sorry things are craptastic. what a bummer!

Chelsea said...

Yay, Brat's back!

I will admit, at my first job (Chick-fil-A) I was a "second guesser"...she at least has potential..."Does not compute"...ummmwhat the heck?

6th Floor blog said...

at least the second guesser, and mabye does not compute have some potential when they get a little more comfortable.

Putting a cup in the blender is priceless, although that's kind how they make McFlurries at McDonalds, but that's no excuse.

And we're already linked, Thanks :-)

INNER VOICES said...

yes, welcome back... the joke is and oldie/goodie, keep it up! no need to post a link. plenty happy lurking!

The Pensive Penguin said...

Good to hear from you again Brat.

I've been the training server at my restaurant for almost a year, and am transitioning into management now, so I've got gangloads of newbie horror stories myself... everything from the second-guesser who took two days of coaching just to get her to approach a table, to the "does not compute" type who can't learn table numbers.

Oddly enough, I'm just getting back to posting at my own blog after a bit of an unannounced hiatus as well, if you're interested.

Lorraine said...

Ah, my brat. I'll have a tall drip. No room. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

brat,

i've always loved reading your blog (it actually inspired me to become a barista!). but maybe it is time for you to move on to another job, because, as much as i hate to say this, it seems like you're becoming a bit of a bitch.

newbies are just that, kids who are new at their jobs. when i started out at the bux, i suddenly had a hundred things thrown at me, and it took me a while to get everything down, including some dumb goof-ups. but getting mad at a girl for checking the recipe too many times? a boy who forgot his number? i don't think the new baristas are getting dumber, maybe the old baristas are getting more short tempered.

kelly

Brynne said...

Wow she isn't being that bitchy. She's venting. It is hard to be a newbie and we've all been there. And there are people that won't deal with goof-ups and will tell you to your face how dumb you are for making that goof-up. And then there are those who get frusterated (like brat) but don't get in the newbies face about it.
I do also agree that it's completely possible that these newbies can improve give them a chance. and the employee # thing I'm sorry I've been away from the BUX for almost ten months and I still remember mine 1217091. And no I am not a number wiz and no I'm not making that up.
Cut Brat so slack she's just frusterated if you say that you've never vented when you were frusterated you're lying.

Lacey Bean said...

Not related to your post at all, but you'll definitely enjoy this:

http://www.buttafly.com/starbucks/index.php

It's the Oracle of Starbucks, and it tells you what your drink order means about you. (So says the person who created it.) Hilarious!

Brynne said...

Yes the great oracle of starbucks I can't help but think that this was actually made up by a starbucks barista. I love it, it's absolutely hilarious.

Snark Scribe said...

I've never heard of the "sofa king" thing before. I may have to try it . . .

Thom said...

As this is *her* blog (thus a very therapeutic way to vent frustration), I think commenting on her behaviour is a bit out of line.

That said, keep it up Brat. I am not long out of retail/food, so I feel your pain. Being a HS teacher, I get to deal with the noobs before they head out to the workforce...to be honest, it scares me s*itless...

-UKThom

jp said...

You wrote this 5 days ago and I'm just now finding it? I feel deprived.

Mr. Short Term Memory works for me as well. Mr. Short Term memory may not have the luxury of working for me much longer.

SkippyMom said...

"she also thought changing the milk pitchers meant putting the half&half pitcher where the nonfat pitcher was and vice versa."

I haven't been around lately, but you have never been out of my mind - I got back to you today and realize how much I missed you - My fav girlie!!!

I swear if I read that passage [above] in the morning, each day, I truly know that I have a better life than someone THAT stupid. OMG. I don't mean to be cruel, but WHERE do these people come from?

I live in VA - if you do too, PLEASE HIRE ME! If not to give me a job, but just to make you life easier....giggle....

HUGS, HUGS, HUGS!

Allan said...

Sofa King? Oh, that's cruel...or it woulda been if she'd got it.

Anonymous said...

gosh i'm sorry guys. i just couldn't help putting myself in the shoes of brat's noobies and how bad i would feel if my wonderful trainers went home and said i was "fucking retarded". but this is her blog, so she can vent all she wants. sorry.

Kelly

Anonymous said...

Of interest:

http://althouse.blogspot.com/2007/11/what-does-it-take-to-get-real-cup.html


--LS

laughable said...

I just found this blog the other day and have been reading it since. I think it's funny how fussy people get on your nerves. I am paying 5 dollars for a coffee, I will be fussy if I want. You should take the advice you are so quick to give out: Don't like it? quit and go fold sweaters at the GAP.

Brynne said...

And again this is Brat's blog. She can fuss if she wants. If you feel the need to fuss about paying that much for a coffee you need to start your own blog about how pissed you are that you can't get what you want all the time when you go to get your coffee. This is Brat's space if she's going to vent then she's going to vent. Maybe you shouldn't be paying 5 dollars for a cup of coffee. Sounds awfully high matinence to me.

laughable said...

Will you be my blog spokeswhore too? Or are you under contract here?
She is allowed to vent just as I, and everyone else, are allowed to comment on said venting.

Syd said...

***delurks***

There's "fussy" as in "Excuse me, but that isn't what I ordered," and there's "fussy" as in getting exactly what you ordered and claiming it isn't, calling the barista an idiot, demanding free beverages because you just don't like what you ordered, etc.

By all means, if what you're given isn't what you ordered, you have a perfect right to ask that the mistake be corrected. What you're not allowed to do is treat the folks behind the counter like they're your slaves...and since I doubt you'd appreciate being on the receiving end of such treatment, dishing it out to someone else is out of line.

**relurks***

laughable said...

If you can show me where I said it's ok to dehumanize someone over coffee then I will apologize and meekly return to just reading this blog. All I am saying is that when everything seems to get on your nerves regarding your job, it's time to quit. Therefore, take your own advice. On a side note, how come it's ok to make your co-workers feel like shit but it's not ok when a customer does it? Seems a bit hypocritical, no?

Brynne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brynne said...

wow we all got very overly excited about this whole thing (yes I am including myself) atlest we know we all like a healthy debate. I think someone should start a blog specifically for debates no matter how small or large. And if you are talking to me about being your blog spokeswhore (first of all I am not liking the way you use the word whore) if you would like to call me something other then whore sure who do we need to fend off? or piss off for that matter seeing as how I am probably pissing off several people. And second of all how am I supposed to be your spokeswhore if you don't comment under your blogger name? Back on the subject of pissing people off (that's what I am good at) What people don't understand is that some people on the receiving end of services at starbucks get what they ordered and play the "that's not what I ordered you wern't listening to me" card and really do treat the baristas like crap. I agree that if you recieve the wrong drink then yes you have every right to ask to have it re made but also people need to listen when drinks at the hand off station are being called out some people just assume "I was the next one in line that's my drink" but they don't listen to what is being said "tall mocha frappaccino" does not translate well to "tall mocha". That's all I'm saying about that.

laughable said...

I only read to you insinuating I was calling you a whore. You need to read dlisted a little more. Spokesperson is out, spokeswhore is in.

laughable said...

And I never bitch to the baristas if they botch my drink. They are people and make mistakes too.

p.s. and it's not b.c I don't know how to order(cause I asked my local barista how to in starbucks-ese)

I do like this blog though, it's hard to find ones that are interesting.

Brynne said...

Oh I missed that spokesperson was out and spokeswhore was in. Damn me being out of the loop. I was about to be insulted, but nevermind no longer insulted. I am proud that you asked your local barista hot to order in starbucks-ese because seriously I work with people who expect to point at a picture and say "I want that" they won't go to starbucks with out me I am "apprantly" the Starbucks liason in my office. If some of my co-workers went there by themselves the drinks would definitely be wrong and they would be pissed cause "they can do no wrong". And I agree it is hard to find interesting blogs to read it's just as hard to write interesting blogs just because something is interesting to me doesn't mean it's interesting to anyone else. But I must say brats is one of the more fun ones I read.

SkippyMom said...

How many customers do you think frequent a starbucks during any barista's given shift? 100, 200? And Brat manages a post or two a week regarding what 6? 8? That would appear to be a very small percentage of "fussy" people and not a real reason to quit a job, dontcha' think?

Additionally...when you are finished reading this entire blog you will notice that credit is given where credit is due - nice customers are mentioned and applauded. This leads me to believe brat does like her job [and we can tell she is good at it]-With all that said - The comment regarding "I am paying $5 for a cup of coffee" I can be as fussy as I want [excuse the paraphrase] I find it curious in your dialogue that you claim [vaguely] to be a good customer at bux.

Sorry, but your Sense of entitlement just oozes out of that sentence.

Just my 2 cents [or $5!] whatever!

Love the brat!

laughable said...

Sense of Entitlement? Yeah, give me my over priced coffee. What's the problem here?

Teresa said...

Hey Brat,

I would love to know if you are working at my Bux. A college town in the South????

I love my Bux and right now I'm in college (at 41) and plan to try to get on at Starbucks, first as a barista and then go into management. I think I can do it despite probably being the oldest person working for Starbucks. LOL

I swear, Brat you make me afraid to be a newbie. I will either be one of them, or worse kill one for being such an idiot.

I love your blog by the way and you have been a huge help with my preparation for a future with Starbucks.

Hang on to your humor. :)

Teresa

Been There Done That said...

While I just discovered this blog and found it entertaining to some degree so far, I have to admit that the bits about newbies is rather bad taste- in part that as a Starbucks barista you represent the company in a way. I know you and your blog do not represent them in belief, word or idea, but, in my humble opinion, it gives a bad rep and goes against the company policy of non-discrimination against "the presence of mental, physical, or sensory disability". So these folks may not be labeled clinically disabled with the above descriptions, but people are honestly imperfect and some (like the "second guesser" or "does not compute") shouldn't be considered right-away boatloads of crap that they deserve to get the "i am sofa king we todd did" bit. I had to say something because I've been in the newbie's shoe many times (always made mistakes and second-guessed all the time) as well as the well-seasoned one (who eventually got over second-guessing and produced precise, quality works), but I'll never look down on someone for being a newbie like that.

Anonymous said...

OMG this totally sounds like my store. We have a new hire (2 weeks) who steamed a pitcher of milk to pour into an ice cup to make an iced latte. Genius.

Banquet Manager said...

Unfortunately, the newbies don't get the training like they used to before they're put on the floor. The same goes for my banquet waiters I'm sorry to say.
Merry Christmas from:
the Banquet Manager