put up your dukes!

nothing gets my morning going like two customers ready to throw down.

apparently someone had a serious case of road rage (parking lot rage, maybe?) and a few honks and rude gestures were not adequate enough methods to let off steam. so when customer A came into my bux, customer B was on her scent.

customer A: "give me a tall soy latte."
barista buddy: "ok, anything else today?"
customer A: "yeah, give me a cheese danish - "
customer B: "you maniac! you almost killed me out there!"
customer A: "lady, i already apologized to you."
barista buddy: "ok, your total is - "
customer B: "i'm going to report you - you maniac! i bet you don't even have a valid license!"
barista buddy: "uh, ma'am. can you settle this outside after she gets her coffee?"
customer B: "oh, just because she's spending money here means she's allowed to drive however she wants? what, is she mrs. starbucks or something?"
barista buddy: "uh, no. we just can't have yelling in here."
customer B: "i was almost killed! you expect me to be calm when i almost died because of her!"
customer A: "oh, you are so over-reacting. you were in my blind spot, that's all. as soon as you honked i quit changing lanes."
customer B: "my two children were in the car with me! you could have killed us all!"
barista brat: "ma'am, i understand you're upset but i can't have you yelling in here."
customer B: "of course i'm upset! i have an infant and a toddler and she almost killed us all!"
customer A: "oh please, if you're so concerned about your kids why did you leave them in the car to come yell at me?"
customer B: "fuck you! you maniac!"

and with that last poetic cry of injustice she stormed out of the store.
not a minute later we heard her revving her engine and peeling out of the parking lot.
"and i'm supposed to be the maniac" customer A laughed before leaving.

partner rant: please don't spend the entire shift whining about the write-up you just received for constantly being late. please don't turn your ten-minute break into a fifteen-minute break because you were on the phone complaining to your boyfriend about said write-up. and please don't ask the rest of us baristas to try and convince the manager that he should "erase" the write-up.


return of the butterfly

remember butterfly?
well, she's back and more bizarre than ever. apparently she believes she gained some weight over the holidays so instead of her usual 'rainbow water' she's now ordering 'diet water' - which means she wants three pumps of sugar-free vanilla, three pumps of sugar-free hazelnut, three pumps of sugar-free cinnamon dolce and five splendas added to her iced water.
she also believes she needs to burn more calories so she's been rollerblading up and down the sidewalk in front of bux while she sips on her diet water. some customers started to ask us about the homeless child outside and we explain that she's not homeless, she's just very eccentric.
"but she's asking people for spare change." one of our regulars informed us.
so out of the goodness of my perky assistant manager's heart, she went outside to talk with butterfly.

"honey, you really shouldn't be panhandling out here." perky assistant manager had her caring voice on. "it's not safe to talk to random strangers."
"but i'm bored out here by myself." butterfly answered while rollerblading in circles around my assistant manager.
"well, you know you can come sit inside the store while you wait for your mom. i think she'd like that better than you asking people for money."
"but i like asking people for money." was butterfly's answer.
"well, i think it's much safer if you just sit inside the store instead of rollerblading out here."
"can i have a free refill on my diet water - for free?" butterfly asked, ignoring the words of perky assistant manager.
"well...if i give you a free refill will you quit asking strangers for money?"

of course butterfly complied, but now she thinks perky assistant manager is her new best friend. she expects free diet water every time she rollerblades into the store and reminds us all that "the assistant manager said i could have it for free!" - even when perky assistant manager isn't working.

i'm sure it's just a matter of time before butterfly will expect free pastries and sandwiches. i'm also sure she's not quite as daft as she makes herself appear, but in fact she's actually very manipulative.
i wonder how much longer perky assistant manager will put up with butterfly's behaviour.

customer rant: believe it or not, i'm ok with the fact that you've run out of chai tea bags. what i'm NOT ok with is that you neglected to tell me this and instead gave me a cup of earl grey tea with a pump of chai concentrate. when i called you on it you said - "oh, well that's practically the same thing". after i informed that it isn't anywhere near the same and requested a plain earl grey tea instead, you muttered "are you really going to make me open a new tea bag?".
yes i am.


fight the power

i didn't realize how much of a treat my store was in for when amorous newbie was transferred to us.

i should probably refer to her by a new name because she has been anything but loving. besides continually bickering with the talker, she's also managed to piss off quite a few customers.
and yesterday she argued with a cop.

the-newbie-formally-know-as-amorous has quite a short fuse. she's either suffering from chronic pms or she's just an outright bitch. the only time she cracks a smile is when she thinks it will help her get something she wants. like when she wanted me to cover the last half of her shift so that she could get a pedicure. or when a customer mentioned he was a photographer and she wanted him to shoot her headshots for free.
NFKAA also has a bizarre sense of entitlement. she's argued more than once with perky assistant manager about being on register ("i don't feel like talking to customers today") and she's also tried to pawn off her cleaning duties on the other newbies ("you're the low man on the totem pole since you're newer than me so you have to clean the bathroom"). NFKAA believes rules apply to everyone but her - which is why she argued with the cop.

i guess NFKAA was sick of having to leave her car at the employee section of the parking lot and decided she was deserving of a better space. well, since all the spots directly in front of bux where already occupied she parked in the closest space she could find - ignoring the painting of a stick figure in a wheelchair.

not ten minutes into her shift and a cop came into our store.
"anyone here own that white civic in the parking lot?" the cop asked the customers in the lobby.
"oh, it's mine." NFKAA smiled at the cop. "i'm gonna move it when a better space opens up."
"you need to move it now. you can't park in the disabled spot unless you have a placard." the cop told her sternly. i was disappointed that he wasn't writing up a ticket for her.
"it's not like anyone ever uses that spot," she said flippantly. "i'll move it in a few minutes."
"no, you're going to move it now or you're going to get a ticket."

we thought that was the end of it until we saw NFKAA still arguing with the cop outside after she'd moved her car.
how much you want to bet she'll park in the disabled spot again?

barista rant: if you can't be bothered to quit talking into your cell phone when ordering your latte, i can't be bothered to call it out repeatedly while you're still gabbing. i won't remake it either when you complain that it's not hot enough - since you waited until your call was over to pick it up. maybe you should stick to one task at a time.


all about the benjamins

i had a bit of a revelation this weekend.

it all began yesterday morning. kick ass newbie (i'm really going to have to find a new name for her because she is way too good to be called 'newbie') was on register while i was rebrewing coffee, stocking cups and filling the pastry case. everything was going smoothly until i heard a customer scream out "this is FUCKING ridiculous!"
"i'm sorry ma'am but - " kick ass newbie was doing her best to keep the customer calm but the lady interrupted her with more screaming.
"don't give me this bullshit!"
"i'm sorry, but - "
"oh just SHUT UP! where's the damn manager?" bitch lady screamed again.

now it is never acceptable to yell at a barista in this manner. especially when the barista is only doing her job.

"is there something i can help you with?" i asked, knowing i could better handle the wrath of bitch lady.
"she won't give me change for this!" bitch lady held up a 100 dollar bill.
"i'm sorry but we can't give change for bills that large." i told her honestly.
"this is BULLSHIT!" she yelled again. "are you telling me that in this whole store there isn't change for a 100?"
"we don't have enough money in our tills to give you change." i told her calmly. "but i think the store next door might be able to change that out for you."
"well i'm not FUCKING next door, am i?" she was still holding up the bill, as if her profanity would instantly make me change my mind.
"i'm sorry but we can't give you change for that." i said in a very nice tone.
"i don't accept your damn apology!" she screamed at me as i walked away from her.
"well, i tried my best!" i smiled.
"your best isn't fucking good enough!" she yelled as she huffed her way out the door.

two customers who'd been waiting in line tipped us extra for having to put up with bitch lady and complimented me for the way i handled her. kick ass newbie thanked me for intervening and when perky assistant manager heard about the incident she said "damn brat! you're way the hell nicer than i would've been!"

which is where my little revelation came in.

i was nice yesterday. nicer than i would've been six months ago, and i realize the reason bitch lady customers don't set me off like they used to is because of this blog and because of those of you who read it.
it's true, since i now have an outlet for my frustrations at bux, i'm a much calmer barista. when i read your comments telling me that you're better customers because of my rants it inspires me to be a better barista.

so, thank you.
because without this blog and without you readers i probably would've decked her one.

barista rant: don't get pissed at me because you didn't get away with your scam. yeah, i know you want cash for the cd you've just handed me (and most likely stole from another bux) but that doesn't mean i'm going to ignore policy. if fact i don't know of ANY business that gives cash on returns without a receipt. telling me that "the other bux" gave you cash on your return won't convince me, either.


paying for pleasure

at least once a week a customer asks me "why doesn't starbucks have those 'buy ten drinks get the eleventh for free' cards?" and the simple answer is "because they don't have to."

and it's true.
starbucks doesn't hand out the eleventh drink for free because they know people are more than willing to pay for it. the whole point behind these sort of coupons is to encourage repeat business, not to reward a loyal customer.
heartbreaking, isn't it?

some of you may recall the coupons we handed out last year for free iced tall drinks. that was around the same time our stock was decreasing in value. during the summer we had a spike in frappuccino sales - but as i've ranted about before, frappuccinos are labor intensive. so much so that it was making a noticeable difference in our usual profits. to combat this corporate decided to have us baristas hand out coupons to encourage customers to order iced espresso drinks rather than ice blended drinks.

did the plan work?
well, not at the bux i worked at. people still ordered their frappuccinos but added an extra drink on the side.

i'm guessing it will be a long while before starbucks hands out the free drinks again.

customer rant: i appreciate the fact that you wipe the excess whipped cream off the cups before you hand them out. honestly, i do. but licking your fingers clean afterward is going too far. next time use a paper towel - or better yet: be a neater barista.


different bux - still sux

today i covered a shift at a different bux.
now, i usually try to avoid working at other stores because a) i hate being in someone else's "kitchen" b) i hate having customers look me up and down, saying "oh, you must be new" and c) nine times out of ten i will be scheduled with their resident pariah.
how lucky that i experienced "a", "b" and "c" today!

because the store has a completely different layout from my own, i stayed on bar. that, of course, brought on it's own series of problems. regulars who were shocked/appalled at seeing a not-so familiar face would quiz me on drink recipes as i handed them their drinks.
"here's your grande nonfat caramel macchiato. thank you!"
"this is my caramel macchiato?" they would ask, pretending i didn't JUST call out their drink to them. "did you make sure to put nonfat milk in it?"
"yes, that's your nonfat caramel macchiato." i would repeat.
"and it has two shots of espresso in it?"
"yes, grande caramel macchiatos come with two shots."
"and you put the caramel drizzle on top?"
"yes, i put the caramel drizzle on top."
"and cinnamon powder?"
"uh, that drink doesn't get cinnamon powder." i tried my best not to sound snippy.
"yeah, i know. i was just testing you."

but the worst part of my shift was working with ms. over-explainer.
now, i thought i had it bad with the talker, but i now realize this store has it waaaaay worse.
"do you know how to work the espresso bar?" she asked me after i'd ALREADY been making drinks for an hour. "because some people don't really know. here - let me show you. this button you push for one shot of espresso. this button you push for two shots - "
"i know how to work bar." i told her and went to rinse a milk pitcher.
"oh, that's good that you rinse the pitchers because most people don't do that. i've told them over and over again that you have to rinse the pitchers but they don't. every single day there are people who don't rinse the pitchers and i tell the manager, but she doesn't really do anything about it."
at that point i just walked away from her and started making drinks again.
"you better make sure you fill the beans!" she pointed to the hopper that was still three-fourths filled. "because if you don't keep them filled you'll get a message on the bar that tells you to fill it and you won't be able to pull any shots until you fill it with beans. and then you won't be able to make drinks because you can't pull shots because there are no beans. so make sure you keep that hopper filled, ok? because if you don't you can't pull shots."

of course she didn't just over-explain bar procedure. she over-explained how to wash your hands, how to empty the trash, how to put pastries in bags, how to sweep, how to hand change back to customers and how to punch out for lunch.
i'm giving myself brownie points for not telling her to shut her trap. and i'm also making a pledge to never work at that bux again.

partner rant: it is not ok - at ANY time - to take someone's jacket without their permission and wear it while you smoke a cigarette outside. it doesn't matter that it's cold. it doesn't matter that you forgot to bring your own jacket. it doesn't matter that the other barista didn't rip you a new one when you pulled this stunt with her. don't. do. it. EVER!


mocha mudslides

i received a MUG award tonight - and it was well deserved!

actually the closing shift started off great. for a change the mid-day crew had turned over a great shift and it looked like it would be smooth sailing for the night.
but then murphy's law was in full effect and we had to spend the last two hours playing catch up.

it all started when my fellow barista brat decided to be nice and make an extra bar mocha for the morning crew. since the mocha is mixed with hot water we set it aside for about an hour before we store it in the refrigerator (the mocha doesn't thicken until it's been cooling for a few hours). so, as my fellow brat was placing the newly mixed mocha on the counter, she lost her grip on the container and ended up coating the counter, cabinets and floor with chocolate. instead of freaking out she said "it's a good thing it wasn't milk or i'd be crying" and laughed. we spent the next twenty minutes wiping the area clean and re-mopping the floor.

then our barista buddy tripped in the backroom and sprained his ankle. after filling out an incident report form he hobbled home - leaving just two of us to finish closing the store. we were still good on time so i made another mocha for the morning crew. but fellow barista brat had a major case of the clumsies and knocked the passion iced tea container into the ice bin - which meant we had to empty out the ice, clean the bin, and then fill it up again.

as i was putting the last bit of ice in the bin a regular informed fellow brat that the toilet was overflowing in the bathroom. apparently some customer decided to use ten toilet seat covers at once. i managed to fix the toilet and mop the floor in record time. when it came time to lock the door we figured we were safe from anymore problems - that is until fellow brat put the mocha in the refrigerator. like i said before - she had a case of the clumsies and ended up spilling the mocha all over the inside of the fridge. my only reaction was to laugh. we ended up finishing our shift without any other incidents, and my fellow brat gave me a MUG award for my mopping skills.

thank goodness our customers were well behaved because i'm sure i would have done bodily harm to the first person who got lippy.

barista rant: don't ask me to give you a discount on our valentine's day merchandise - especially when january is only halfway over. don't complain that our mugs are overpriced, or that the chocolate isn't as good as see's chocolate. no one is forcing you to buy our merchandise and no matter how much you whine i will NOT reduce the price.


crazy is as crazy does

there are a few kinds of crazy when it comes to customers.

there's the certifiably insane: people who really do have mental problems but have enough social skills to order a cup of coffee.
there's the manic crazies: people that are happy, but are clearly existing on their own planet.
and of course there's the wtf?!? crazies (unfortunately the most common crazy affliction we see at bux).

wtf crazies are the most dangerous sort. they are ticking time bombs and anything can set them off. so far this week there's been an epidemic of wtf craziness and of course we baristas have been on the receiving end of undeserved insults.

wtf crazy person #1
- while i was at bar some middle-aged lady walked up to the serving counter and spat out "SOME of us have real jobs we have to get to!".
"i'm sorry, were you waiting for another drink?" i asked when i noticed she was already holding a starbucks cup in her hand.
"HELLO! i've been waiting for over ten minutes!" she lied.
"well, i don't have any drinks left to be made. what did you order?"
"i ordered a caramel!" she practically shrieked. "and i've been waiting fifteen minutes for it!" yet another lie.
"a caramel what?" i asked. "a caramel frappuccino or a caramel macchiato?"
"a caramel drink!" she shrieked again.
"we have more than one caramel drink." i pointed to the menu.
before she could could yell out "caramel" again, the register partner walked over to the bar and said "ma'am, you ordered a tall drip with caramel syrup."
"yes, i know!" she was fuming. "so where the hell is it?"
"uh, it's in your hand."
that's right, this lady was holding her drink the whole damn time. so did she apologize for being such a bitch? of course not! instead she growled, "i'm NEVER coming her ever again! this is the worst starbucks i've ever been to!" as she stomped out of the store.

wtf crazy person #2
- a woman came into bux with her baby strapped to her chest (i have no idea what those sari looking baby thingies are called) and ordered a passion iced tea. after picking up the tea she went into the bathroom, only to emerge five minutes later with a bright pink stain down the front of her baby strap.
"you guys are lucky this wasn't hot tea." she shook her finger at us. "i would sue all your asses off if this was hot tea!"
we offered to give her towels to help clean herself, as well as give her another tea.
"i don't want another tea! i want you to pay my cleaning bill." she pushed the clean towels back at us. "this is 100% silk!" she pointed to the baby strap thingie. "this was going to be a family heirloom but you've ruined it!"
and then she started crying.
and after she cried she blamed our uptight society for not allowing her to breastfeed in public (which i guess is why she ended up spilling her tea all over herself in the bathroom?) and then she started complaining that her back hurt from the baby strap thingie.

my fellow barista brat figured the lady must be suffering from postpartum depression, but i think she just had a case of the wtf's.

wtf crazy person #3
- high school student asks me "can you make a frappuccino that doesn't taste like a frappuccino?"
"i don't understand, do you not want it to taste like coffee because we have non-coffee frappuccinos."
"i just don't want it to taste like a frappuccino."
"what do you want it to taste like?"
"you know - good, just not frappuccino tasting." she informed me with a straight face.
when i then told her that it was impossible to make a frappuccino NOT taste like a frappuccino, she then asked for a hot chocolate that didn't taste like a hot chocolate. and when i told her that was impossible as well she whined and demanded to know why i was "making her life a living hell".

barista rant: it is never, NEVER ok to help yourself to our tip jar. not even if you spotted the only state quarter missing from your collection - it will never be permissible to take the tip jar to your table to sift through it. and if you try it again i can't guarantee you'll make it out of the store unscathed.


whine and "geez!"

i've tried three times to write a post that didn't sound 100% negative and bitchy, but it's impossible. so instead i'll write up a wish list.

barista brat's (futile) wishes:
- i wish that my newly promoted manager would learn how to do the damn schedule so that we don't have to take our lunch breaks half an hour after we start our shifts.
- i wish the opening baristas would quit bitching about how busy their morning is when they have four more people on the floor than the closers and STILL can't manage to do their assigned tasks.
- i wish my district manager would take the time to learn the baristas' names rather than call out "hey, you over there".
- i wish bux would remember that it is impossible for one person to clean a drain, make a drink, and take out the trash all at the same time.
- i wish my fellow baristas weren't so damn messy when they're at bar.
- i wish i wouldn't have to stay an hour past my scheduled closing because i've spent my entire shift playing catch up (thanks for nothing, morning crew!).
- i wish our ceo would remember that we are a coffee shop and not a deli, bakery or sandwich shop.
- i wish customers would learn how to flush the toilet.
- i wish hear music would put out a decent cd more than once a year.
- i wish my bux stock would quit dropping.
- i wish bitter old dude would quit complaining that no one deserves a vacation more than he does.
- i wish the talker would transfer.
- i wish the mid shift crew would remember to stock, prep and clean.
- i wish my perky assistant manager would complete a task before starting three more.
- i wish my newly promoted manager would quit calling me on my days off to see if i can help out other stores in our district.
- i wish the best manager in the world was still my manager.
- wish i didn't have to have a wish list.

and one final wish:
- i wish my barista buddy didn't put in his two weeks notice tonight, although i can't blame him.
he's a closer and has finally had his fill of doing his work and then some. so he wrote up a "dear john" letter for the manager and now i can look forward to training another newbie.

see? i told you - negative and bitchy.

partner rant: i appreciate the fact that you're into healing the environment, but please be considerate to your fellow man and bathe a little more often. or at least invest in a good deodorant.


dumb and dumber

remember that overly amorous newbie who was being transferred to my bux because of her bizarre love triangle?
well, i was sure she and bitter old dude would be at each other's throats in seconds because bitter old dude is the resident drama queen and would rather die than share his crown, but imagine my surprise when amorous newbie first made enemies with...the talker!
seems they both suffer from that fatal disease: last word-itis (it's fatal because the rest of the baristas are going to kill them if they keep at it).

time has only increased the talker's delusions of popularity. he doesn't just follow baristas around and talk their heads off - now he's performing for us. he takes every chance to dazzle us with his biting (translation: dumb) wit and keen (translation: full of himself) perspective.
i was taking a ten in the backroom when he was restocking cups. now, most people come in the backroom, grab whatever sleeve of cups they need, and are back out on the floor in a matter of seconds. but not the talker.
"which one do i need - oh there are the grande cups! you little devils thought you were hiding from me didn't you? you can't hide from me! i'll hunt you down until i find every last one of you! wait, you're not a sleeve of grande cups! what's a sleeve of tall cups doing in the grande cup box? brat! this is so weird! i was stocking grande cups and there's a sleeve of tall cups hiding in the box!"

and that's the abridged version.

it's also why the rest of us don't try and get the last word in with the talker: because it would only invite another twenty pages of dialogue from him.
amorous newbie, on the other hand, can't live unless the last statement of a conversation comes from her lips, which the talker takes as a request for him to talk some more. so she hits him with another crude last word and he responds with a bitchy oratory.
believe me, it's a vicious cycle.

it's gotten so bad that newly promoted manager has threatened to send one or both of them home with write-ups.

so now their conversations sound like this:
the talker: "i'm not getting sent home because of you - i need all my hours."
amorous newbie: "what, like i don't need mine?"
the talker: "well, it's because of you that the manager has threatened to send us home."
amorous newbie: "yeah - like you're some innocent bystander."
the talker: "all i'm saying is i never had this problem before you were transferred here."
amorous newbie: "how i wish that was all you were saying. dude! you never shut your mouth."
the talker: "me? what about you? you talk more than anyone i've ever met."
amorous newbie: "well you should stand in front of a mirror and get self-acquainted."
the talker: "what? you don't even make sense!"
amorous newbie: "just because you don't get it doesn't mean i don't make sense."
the talker: "whatever. just quit talking to me. i don't want to get sent home because of you."
amorous newbie: "what, like i want to get sent home?"
and on, and on, and on....

barista rant: don't ask me to put "just a touch" of cinnamon powder in your latte, and then complain that i didn't add enough. first off - there's cinnamon powder at the condiment bar, so you should be the one adding it to your drink. second - what the hell do you think "just a touch" means? because when you twisted the top off the cinnamon powder container and dumped about an inch into your drink, i would suggest that is far more than "just a touch".


happy new year!

it's a new year but i have to post this old story (i CAN'T believe i never got around to it in 2006).

at my old bux there was a female customer we called "issues" - because she definitely had them, but also because she brought in four or five tabloid magazines to read while she hung out at our store. "issues" was clearly anorexic and had very odd habits when it came to her coffee.
she always ordered a tall cappuccino in a venti cup with whipped cream to the top (and no lid). then she would grab about ten equal packets and place them in a circle around her cup. starting with the packet closest to her, she would sprinkle the sugar substitute on top of the whipped cream and then use a wooden stirrer stick to spoon feed herself. one by one she would sprinkle the equal on the whipped cream and then slowly eat the topping.
never ONCE did she drink what was left in the cup. instead she left it on the table for us to throw away, as well as her old magazines and used equal packets.

"issues" was also very chatty and would talk our ears off about how hard it was to take care of her sick husband.
"oh brat, you have no idea how boring it is to visit him in the hospital!" she would complain.
my fellow baristas and i would cringe when she'd bitch about how his cancer was crimping her social life. one day she came in and said "now i have to cancel my vacation because the doctors gave my husband only a month to live."
well, her husband was a trooper because he held on for about three months. another barista was the one to tell me that "issues'" husband had passed on, so the next time i saw her i gave her my condolences.
"i know, i'm so upset," she sighed. "i haven't been on the market for ten years. i can't believe i'm going to have to do the whole dating thing again! i'm so not ready for that."

yeah. issues.

barista rant: i understand you wanted your coffee bright and early on new year's day, but we can't change our holiday hours just to accommodate you. even if you do have a long drive and promise to tip us a buck. throwing a hissy and telling us you're a shareholder won't change a thing, either. if you're really so desperate for caffeine at 5 am there's always 7-11.