tipper more

sorry for the lack of new posts.
there has been a nasty virus making its way throughout my district. luckily i escaped its wrath (this time) but my week was spent working overtime to help out my bed-ridden brethren.

apparently it was clear to our customers that we were short-staffed (and working our little green apron tails off) because our tip jars were overflowing!
now, i am NEVER one to complain when a customer leaves us a tip, but i noticed that people seemed overly-generous to us baristas this past week.

big tipper #1 -
a woman came in ten minutes before we closed and asked if we had any chocolate chip cookies left. i informed her that we had already sold out of them for the day and listed off the pastries we had left. the woman decided against buying a snack, but ordered a kids' hot chocolate for her daughter. she paid $1.05 for the beverage and then stuffed two singles into our tip jar. two singles! on a tab that was just over a buck! and we didn't even have the product she initially came in for!

big tipper #2 -
a lady came into my bux with her dog. i promptly, and nicely, told her that the dog couldn't stay in the store, but i would be happy to take her drink and change out to her once her beverage was ready. she handed me her credit card, went back outside with her dog and waited for her drink to be made. just as i told her i would, i brought her the latte, credit card and receipt. i thought that was the end of it, but she was back at our door twenty minutes later, motioning for me to come outside.
"here, this is for you," she smiled and handed me a five dollar bill.
"oh, thank you, but you didn't have to do this!" i told her honestly.
"i know, but you deserve it." she said before she and her dog walked away.
of course i put the fiver in the tip jar to share with my fellow baristas.

big tipper #3 -
one of our regular customers was a few cents short for his venti mocha.
"don't worry about it," my barista buddy told him. "i can cover the rest for you."
barista buddy pulled out the correct change from his pocket and added it to his register so he wouldn't be short at the end of his shift.
"i'll pay you back when i come in later today," regular customer offered, but barista buddy just waved him off.
as promised, regular customer came back a couple hours later and handed some change to barista buddy.
"that's for you," he said before reaching into his pocket. "and this is for everyone because you guys always do such a great job." he pushed a handful of singles into the tip jar.

big tipper #4 -
a woman came in and wanted to purchase thirty ten-dollar gift cards. there was only two of us baristas on the floor, and although time-consuming, we cheerfully went ahead and activated all thirty cards. before she handed us her credit card as payment she asked if she could add on two more cards (meanwhile the line behind her was growing). finally her transaction was complete - but before she left she handed us each a gift card for ten dollars for "our troubles".

let me tell you - NOTHING brightens a barista's crazy work week more than generous tips. and no - this is not any sort of plea or request for people to tip more often. it's just a way for me to express how greatly appreciative we baristas are that people are willing to pad our tip jar.

partner rant: yes, i know you say you're sick. i know working when you're sick is anything but fun or healthy - that's why i was willing to cover your shift for you. but if you really are "soooo sick" that you need me to come in for you, why the hell did you come by the store and hang out for an hour? and if you weren't "soooo sick" then at least do me the courtesy of letting me believe you're home puking your guts out, ok?


"aww, that's racist." - david brent, the office

today a partner from another store covered a shift at my bux.
i'd never worked with the guy before, but bitter old dude gave me a cryptic warning about him.
"the less you say, the happier you will be," he told me before clocking out for the day.

when the shift-covering partner arrived, he seemed harmless enough. very bubbly, very flamboyant and very chatty. i quickly realized he must be his store's version of 'the talker', but i didn't realize he was also much, much more than that.

"hi brat!" shift-coverer introduced himself to me. "i'm the fatter, gayer augustus gloop!"
i kid you not - this is the first thing he said to me.

our shift together moved along pretty smoothly, even though he had one of the worst cases of verbal diarrhea i've ever seen. but things changed while i was conversing with a regular.
"so brat, they never give you a day off, do they?" mr. regular asked me good-naturedly.
"yeah, they have me slaving away over this hot bar!" i joked back.
mr. regular chatted a little longer with me before he left - that's when the fatter, gayer augustus gloop chastised me.

"i can't believe how insensitive you are," he shook his head at me.
"why, what happened?" i asked, curious as to what i did to offend whomever it was that was offended.
"you just said 'slaving away' while there was an african-american in the lobby!"

i was honestly taken aback.
was the customer really offended by my banter with mr. regular?
"did he say something to you about it?" i asked shift-coverer.
"did he look upset about it?"
"so how do you know it bothered him?" i asked.
"i don't think he even heard it - but that doesn't matter because I did. you have to watch what you say because it might offend someone and you have to be sensitive to the people around you - even if you think they aren't listening."

excuse me, but wtf?!?

shift-coverer explained to me that he was a self-appointed goodwill ambassador, spreading his ideology of tolerance and diversity wherever he went.
"i'm gay," he informed me again, "and i have to deal with verbal abuse every day of my life. sometimes it's intentional and other times it's people, like you, that are so programmed to be bigoted they don't even realize they're doing it."
"you're calling me a bigot?" i asked him, pissed that he was so concerned with my language and not his own.
"i'm just saying that you can re-program yourself to use less hate speech."

i had to walk away from him if i was going to stay sane.
later he picked up where he left off, imploring me to "think before i spoke".
"well, i don't agree that the expression 'slaving away' is hate speech."
"i know you don't - and that's the problem." he said smugly - as if i'd just proven his point for him.
"well, don't you think sometimes hate is in the eye of the beholder?"
"so now you're blaming the victim?" he asked, indignant.

thankfully we were pretty busy for the rest of the shift and he didn't have time to pull out his soapbox again. and hopefully i won't have to work with the 'word police' any time in the near future.

barista rant: don't get pissy with me because i didn't drop what i was doing to get you a cup of water. yeah, you're thirsty, but there are five PAYING customers that are waiting for their drinks. you don't get priority because your drink is 'easier'. in fact, i have to leave my station at the bar, grab a cup, walk over to the ice bin, then walk over to the water dispenser just to prepare your precious drink. sorry, but you have to wait until i'm done with the drinks i'm currently waiting before i run all over the store just to please you.


ordering for dummies

i guess when there's a three-day weekend, some people decide to give their brain cells a rest as well.

yesterday and today there was an insane amount of customers who needed a hard kick in the pants. i've ranted so many times before about customers who approach the register with no clue as to what they want to order after standing in line for five minutes. it's stupid, it's dumb and it wastes time for everyone involved.

- the phone addict
this is the customer who refuses to put the phone down long enough to order - instead opting to make us (and all the customers behind them) wait until their conversation is over. sometimes, in-between sentences they'll whisper something unintelligible to us and then toss their money on the counter, as if "decaf mumble, mumble, mumble" translates into starbonics.

- the first-timer
the newbie customer who waits until we've asked them "what can i get for you today?" to actually LOOK at our menu board. and of course a five-minute explanation of each and every one of our beverages ensues while the line gets longer and longer and longer.

- the should-know-better
this is the customer that has been to bux a million times, knows exactly how the ordering process goes, and STILL hems and haws when we ask them what they want. they giggle and smile and say "gee! i should know what i want by now, huh?" and then re-reads the menu forty times before deciding on their usual. their friggen' USUAL!

- the bottlenecker
at bux we usually have what's called a 'floater' to call down the line so the register partners don't have to take extra time to mark cups. usually it's a very efficient process, although occasionally we'll come across a customer who will demand so much attention, and ask so many questions, that we cannot fulfill our floater duties. meanwhile the register partner has already started to ring up the bottlenecker and cannot help the next customer in line. of course that means everyone behind them has to wait even longer just to order.

and my personal favorite:
- mr./ms. ultra-complex
this is the person that won't tell you what they want to order unless you have out your sharpie and have cup in your hand. problem is - if you don't tell me the size of your damn drink, or whether it's hot or iced, it's USELESS for me to start writing! still mr./ms. ultra-complex will say "you need to write this down" and won't utter another word until i'm perfectly poised with cup and pen in hand. then they proceed to say rather slowly "nonfat.....decaf.....three shots.....no foam.....sugar-free hazelnut....why aren't you writing this down?"
"because i need to know the size and what kind of drink it is first." i inform them.
"i'm telling you!" mr./ms. ultra-complex will huff. "nonfat....decaf....three shots...."
of course the drink ends up being a venti when we've started writing on a grande cup, or they will inform us it's supposed to be iced after watching us write down their order on a hot cup. grrrrrrr!

partner rant: please don't bitch to me about a barista you're having problems with. if it's upsetting you so much, then talk to the manager if you can't work it out with your nemesis. talking to me will fix NOTHING, and it only makes me want to take the side of the person that hates you. seriously.


deja who?

for the most part, there aren't many surprises when it comes to a bux workday.
i'm sure i could show up half unconscious and still be able to make lattes and frappuccinos - it's the repetitious nature of the business.

even though i can do my job on auto-pilot, i'm still very good about being personable and welcoming to customers. apparently so much so that i forget entire conversations.

for the past couple weeks a girl has been coming in to the store ordering iced venti soy three-pump chai lattes. each time she says, "thanks to you this is my new favorite drink! i'm so glad you suggested it!" which is strange because for the life of me i cannot remember ever having had a conversation with her. in fact, i am not a fan of chai lattes and highly doubt that i ever would tell a customer to order one - but she is insistent that i was the one who recommended it.

and there's the man who seems to remember me from my old bux, yet i cannot place him in my memory at all. he brings up specific events, but i still have no clue as to who he is.
and the high school student who read a tolstoy novel on my suggestion, though i can't remember ever talking about literature with any of our teenaged customers.
and the bux partner from another store who claims to have worked with me my first week on the job, but i swear i've never seen her before.

either i've been breathing in too many fumes from our cleaning products or i'm losing my, uh....um....what was i writing about?

barista rant: i'm sure it seemed like a hilarious joke at the time, but pretending like you're going to use our tips to pay for your drink is not a smart thing to do. especially when we've just recently had our tip jar stolen. please don't get pissy with us when we tell you to put the money back in the jar. don't accuse us of having no sense of humor, or of taking life "too seriously". how about saving the "jokes" for someone who'll find them funny - if they exist.


weekend wrap-up

things i found extremely annoying this weekend:

- each and every customer that listened to me repeat their order verbatim, only to complain that their drink was supposed to be iced/nonfat/decaf/blended/whipped after the barista had made it.
- the bitch mommy who told her son to "shut the fuck up" when he asked if he could have a hot chocolate.
- the teenagers who kept asking "are these samples?" and couldn't keep their grubby fingers off the cupcakes we have on display for valentine's day (cupcakes which had a large sign that read 'DO NOT TOUCH - FOR DISPLAY ONLY')
- the barista who preceded me on bar and left me with no steamed milk, grande hot lids or whipped cream containers during a rush.
- the lady who kept propping open our front door because her doggy felt lonely outside (the same lady that gave me a stare down when i asked what kind of dog she had - "she's NOT a dog!" she informed me. "she's my baby girl!")
- the woman who left her toddler's poop-filled diaper in the bathroom sink.
- the man who growled at me "don't you understand english?!?" when i asked him to clarify what his drink order was (he wanted a caramel frappuccino but was asking for a 'caramello flurry')
- the partner who spilled mocha in the milk fridge but blamed it on the manager (uh, hello! the manager didn't work this weekend!)
- the jerk who ran off with one of our tip jars.

things that put a smile on my face this weekend:

- finding out kick ass newbie was covering one of the talker's shifts.
- a visit from one of my old bux regulars.
- the customer who brought us a box of krispy kreme donuts.
- the teenagers that picked up after themselves and told us to have a good night when they left the store.
- the woman who thanked me for always making her drinks the correct way.
- being sent home early on a sunday afternoon!

partner rant: why is it so hard to rinse the frappuccino lid after every use? why must you throw it in the sink and leave it there to get covered in milk and frappuccino guts? doesn't it bug you to have to fish out the dirty lid from the bottom of the sink every time you need to make another frappuccino? don't you realize how much time and effort is wasted by not rinsing it right away? do you like making extra work for yourself or do you just expect other partners to clean up after you?


(not) movin' on up

in my experience bux has generally been good about offering promotions to its partners. most the managers and assistant managers i've worked with have been promoted from within, and honestly i believe bux prefers to promote their partners rather than hiring outside the company.
unfortunately, they pay external management hires several thousand dollars more than internally hired management. and if a particular store manager sucks, then a deserving barista might have to wait several months before they get their deserved promotion. so although there are distinct exceptions to the rule - bux is usually very good about developing their partners for promotion.

now, i bring all this up because i have (again) been approached about moving up within the company. and i'll be honest - i do my little "oh gee, really? wow, that might be fun. too bad my schedule can't handle that right now. try me again in another six months" because my district manager is VERY aggressive about promoting people.
because every time my district manager "develops a partner to the next level" more money shows up on DM's paycheck.
i seriously dislike district managers that push promotions so they can make more money. i've seen it time and again - a partner gets pressured into making the jump and they end up overwhelmed (and underpaid in my opinion), unhappy and eventually quit or step down - and all because the DM wants to pad their paycheck.

i also have no interest in being promoted because i have no interest in moving up.
i like my lack of responsibility and my chosen schedule. as soon as i accept a promotion i will have little to no choice on where i'll work, or what hours i'll have to put in. what i love about my job is that IT works around ME.
of course i can't say that to my manager or district manager. and of course i have to play the game and act as if i'm honored they've considered me for a promotion, because if i don't do my little song and dance my hours will magically disappear, or i'll be micromanaged to the point of madness.
i've been told before: "bux doesn't like career baristas".
well, i don't know if bux doesn't like them, but my district manager CERTAINLY doesn't.
and sure, i like the fact that if needed i can get a promotion at bux. i just don't see it happening any time in the future.

partner rant: i didn't steal your friggen' apron! i already let you examine mine to see if your initials were printed anywhere on it! so don't get pissy because someone walked off with yours, because we've already established that "someone" wasn't me! and don't make stupid comments like "well, there's that color-safe bleach that gets ink stains out, so maybe SOMEONE bleached my initials off my apron". yeah, i walked into work, stole your apron, stopped time so that i could go home and bleach out your initials, started time again and then denied i had your apron. grow up and learn to take better care of your belongings.


raise your hand! who likes me?

there's a barista at my bux who i'm not entirely fond of. we've never had harsh words or anything along those lines - we just have very different styles of dealing with customers, managers and fellow baristas.

now, i RARELY work with this bitter barista, and the times our shifts have overlapped there's been relatively little drama - although she's curt with her fellow baristas, has almost no patience with customers and kisses an insane amount of manager ass. but when she's off the clock she's sweeter than saccharine.

now, i don't go for that "i'm going to be a right turd while we work together but after i punch out we can totally hang" mentality. in my opinion, if you can be polite and respectful when you're having fun, you're capable of being that way while you earn your paycheck. apparently bitter barista feels she isn't paid enough (and customer don't tip enough) for her to have a pleasant attitude. the sad thing is - her bad attitude rubs off on almost everyone around her (customers included).

but here's the crazy thing:
bitter barista wants to win the (non-existent) popularity contest.
so every time a barista says "i love working with you, brat." - bitter barista gets pissed.
each time a customer asks "where've you been, brat? i've missed you" - bitter barista huffs.
and when perky assistant manager says "i'm so excited you're working my shift today, brat!" - bitter barista pouts.

so now bitter barista watches my every move, hoping i'll majorly eff something up. and this weekend she thought she finally hit paydirt.

"brat was on bar today and this woman walked up to her and said 'can i have my lattes now?' and brat gave them to the lady without charging her." bitter barista told our manager (in front of the talker - no less).
"when? you mean this morning?" our manager asked her.
"yeah - she did it right when you were on the floor." bitter barista was hoping i'd get in trouble.
"that lady had already paid for those drinks. " manager told her. "she just wanted to wait until her husband showed up before her drinks were made."

the talker quickly relayed the conversation to me and all i could do was roll my eyes. thankfully it will be another two weeks before i work with bitter barista.
i can hardly wait.

customer rant: i've waited patiently in line. i haven't been pushy or rude. so why the hell did you start to take the order of the lady behind me when it was my turn to order? just because she's a pushy bitch doesn't mean you give her a pass to the front of the line. take care of the customer in front of you first, ok?


wanton whims

i can't believe with all the hours i work that i've been fortunate to have dealt with mr. whim only twice before yesterday.
in fact, i had a vague recollection about there being a problem with his drink the last time i'd helped him, but it didn't really stick out in my mind. well - after yesterday's experience he will NOT be soon forgotten.

it all started so innocuously: i was on bar, happily making drinks, when i came across mr. whim's grande latte. now, there were no special markings on the cup - just the normal vertical slash in the drink box, so i was quite surprised when he came back three minutes later to tell me there was a problem with his drink.

but wait.
i'm getting a bit ahead of myself.

mr. whim is one of those people who believes - no matter how many people's drinks come before his - that he has the god-given right to stand directly in front of the hand-off counter while he waits for his drink. of course, he plops a newspaper on the counter to read while he waits for his drink (mind you, he doesn't pay for the paper - he just believes he has the right to read it while he waits) making it difficult for other people to pick-up their drinks once they've been called out.
when mr. whim's drink is ready he'll act as if he didn't hear you call it three times and continue to read his paper. when he's done with the comics section he's ready for a bathroom break, and only after he's done relieving his bladder he'll come get his drink.

of course there will ALWAYS be something wrong with his drink.

"there's too much foam on this." mr. whim told me after taking a sip of his latte.
"oh, i'm sorry." i raised my eyebrows in surprise. "it didn't say 'easy foam' on the cup."
"i didn't want 'easy foam' - i wanted the regular amount. you put too much on." he said - all the while flipping through a new section of the paper.
"ok, i can take some of the foam off - "
"forget it. just give me an iced latte instead."

so after i gave him an iced version of his drink, the talker pulled me aside and said "that's mr. whim! he always tells us to remake his drink!".

turns out mr. whim is NEVER happy with his drink. and every time there's a different problem: not hot enough, too hot, not enough foam, tastes weird, feels too light, etc., etc. sometimes he wants us to remake the exact drink the same way we made it in the first place. other times he wants something totally different. next time i see him at the hand-off counter i'll make sure he signs off on every part of the drink making process: "the temperature is 160 - is that ok? i'm about to put the foam on top - let me know how much you want, ok?"

hopefully then i won't have to cater to his whims.

barista rant: please listen to me when i ask you a question! especially when the question is: "do you want this blended like a milkshake, or do you want ice cubes in it?" because it's REALLY annoying when you look at your drink and say "oops! i meant i wanted the blended one!" after you assured me two minutes earlier that you wanted ice cubes in your drink.