we used to be friends (a long time ago)

one of the great things about working for bux is making friends with (most) your fellow partners. i am still buddies with many people from my old bux, and am very close to several of the baristas at my current bux.
sometimes, though, a person you thought was a friend can turn out to be a real jerk.

we have a barista at my store who has always been friendly with everyone. in fact, every partner in the store (managers included) has always said "that guy is so cool!" whenever his name is brought up in conversation. unfortunately his name has been brought up quite often lately.

when this partner started slacking on his barista duties, the rest of us were quick to give him a break - after all, working at bux is very labor intensive and everyone has off days. but when it became clear that he had given up caring about cleanliness, speed of service, and punctuality, the new store mantra became "yeah, he's cool, but I hate working with him".

i felt more like a babysitter than a barista whenever we were on the same shift.

"hey guy, can you remember to windex the inside and outside of the pastry case when you're cleaning it?" i asked after noticing the plethora of fingerprints on the glass.
"oh yeah, sorry." he smiled back at me. "i was about to do that."
"we have to sanitize ALL the mats." i told him plainly when he asked if it was okay to clean only the ones that 'looked dirty'.
"haha, ok." he laughed. "just thought we might be able to clock out a little early - that's all."
"hey guy, don't forget to empty the trashcans in the lobby." i had to remind him when he'd told me he'd finished all his tasks for the night. "and you still haven't windexed the outside of the pastry case."
"oh, my bad!" he smiled again before complying.

i decided to have an informal chat with him - letting him know that EVERYONE had noticed his performance was slipping, and that it was frustrating since we all knew he was fully capable of doing his job correctly. he apologized and promised to work harder on his next shifts - and he actually did improve, for about a week.

"hey brat, i don't feel like going to my other job today." he told me one morning during a crazy rush. "i'm too tired after working here, so i think i'm just gonna call in sick." he chuckled.
"please tell me you're joking." i responded, hoping he really wasn't considering screwing his other job over.
"it's boring there - all i do is stand around," he sighed. "they won't miss me anyway."

so three days later i was quite upset when i'd heard he called my manager ten minutes before his shift was supposed to start, claiming he had food poisoning. especially since he'd been trying to get that shift covered so he could go to a concert. over the next week i'd heard complaints about him from every barista i worked with.

"he says he's the fastest barista, but that's because he doesn't give a shit about standards anymore!"
"we were left with only two people during the rush because his sister needed his car 'for an emergency'. yeah right."
"he called in on sunday and said he had to take his mother to the airport, but when we phoned his house his mother said he was supposed to be at work!"

the last straw for this barista brat came two days ago.
"aw crud, brat! do you see who we're working with tomorrow?" he asked while looking over the schedule.
when i found out doobie newbie would be with us for most our shift, i looked at the slacking barista and said VERY clearly, "don't even think about flaking out on me tomorrow."
"oh, i wouldn't do that to you!" he smiled. "it's just gonna suck because i'm gonna have to work so much harder!"

although pissed, i was not surprised when i walked into work the next day and found out that he was a no call/no show for his shift. actually - he did call.
he called hours earlier to verify the start time of his shift, and then never bothered to show. he didn't answer his phone and didn't return any of our calls, either.

today i was informed that he made an appearance in our bux this morning - claiming the reason he didn't show up for his shift was because he had to take his cousin to the hospital, and he didn't have his phone to call us and let us know.
yeah, hospitals are notorious for not having any phones, right?

i really, really, REALLY hope my manager fires this barista. yeah, it sucks when a barista isn't pulling their weight, but when they totally disrespect their fellow partners by not even showing up (and then creating the lamest excuses on the planet) repeatedly, then it's time to hang up the green apron and call it a day.

the worst part is he used to be so cool. he was fun to work with, and generally a great guy to be around. if he'd always been a jerk, a slacker and a no-show, then it wouldn't be so frustrating, or feel so disrespectful. i don't know of any barista who thinks he should be able to keep his job (not that it appears he even wants it), and i hope that he's asked to leave before he has the chance to bail on his other shifts.

barista rant: please listen to the words that come out of my mouth. if i ask you 'what size?' don't sigh heavily, roll your eyes and spit 'COLD!'. don't repeat the phrase 'i want it COLD. COLD!' when i again ask you 'WHAT SIZE?'. don't look at my barista buddy, shake your head and ask 'can you let her know i want it COLD?'. and when he asks you 'what size' don't pretend that it was the first time you heard that question all day!


heard it through the bux line

vanishing barista has been found. ten points for those of you who knew he'd get back together with his abusive girlfriend. of course there was one relationship that was destroyed forever, and that was his employment with bux. but believe it or not my manager was willing to give vanishing barista a second chance - who has no interest in working for the company anymore. BUT - in case some of you were curious as to what he would now do for work - he did turn in an application to our main competitors in town. we know this because they called my manager for references!

and now on to our regularly scheduled post:
the best baristas always have their ears open. if you're on register you should have one ear listening to the customer and the other ear listening to your floater. if you are on bar you should have one ear open towards the people waiting for their drinks and one open towards the register partners when they yell out "soy!", "extra-hot nonfat!" or "grande cappuccino!". many a time i've been on bar and caught mis-marked cups because both my ears were open and i heard the customer request no foam, extra shots, or decaf when my register partner was oblivious.

sometimes, because both ears are open, we hear parts of conversations that we really wish we hadn't heard.

"oh my god, it was so painful!" a customer said in a low voice to her girlfriend. "since it was a woman gynecologist i totally expected her to be gentle, but she was rougher than the guy that took my virginity!"

"mommy!" a little boy howled in pain. "sara just punched me in the peanuts! HARD!"

"who cares if it fell on the floor?" a woman said into her cell phone. "just rinse it off and serve it anyway. that's what i always do."

"i can't believe i just paid two bucks for this crappy coffee." a businessman told his associate. "my secretary back at the office makes it a hundred times better than this. maybe i should give her a raise."

"that guy on register would totally be cute if he didn't have such a gut." a high schooler gossiped to her friend.

"so then i told her there IS a right and wrong way to do things!" an elder woman told her equally aged friend. "and if she can't learn to do it right, then maybe i should give her part of the inheritance to the mormon temple!"

but the funniest/most shocking thing i've heard all week came out of doobie newbie's mouth.
customer: "just a tall drip and the paper."
doobie newbie: "james, how are you?"
customer: *blank stare*
doobie newbie: "you don't remember me? i'm edward's friend.
customer: *blank stare continues*
doobie newbie: "i met you last semester on campus. you had just bought a new bike but it had a flat tire, so you asked edward if you could use his cell phone to call your girlfriend."
customer: "uh, yeah. i vaguely remember that."
doobie newbie: "it was right after your math class, remember? because you'd just taken a calculus final."
customer: "wow - that's a trip that you can remember all that."
doobie newbie: "oh, i have an amazing memory. in fact, it's kind of what i'm known for!"

partner rant: ok, so i understand you're stressed because the district manager is going to be visiting, but that doesn't mean you can go off on all the baristas! i know that as an assistant manager you have more responsibilities than the rest of us, but for grounds' sake keep your cool! reminding us five times a minute that 'the store has to be perfect! don't you realize the district manager is coming?!?' will not push us to work harder or faster. in fact, all the energy you spend freaking out can be spent scrubbing the grout.



it's been quite the week for surprises.

a couple days ago i spotted mr. whim parking his car so i braced myself for his usual brand of crazy. luckily i wasn't on bar, so i wasn't going to have to remake his drink ten times because of his ocd, but i was on register which meant i would have to put up with his grumpiness while he ordered.
imagine my surprise when he greeted me with a 'good morning!' and made small talk while he happily handed over his money. he even made me laugh with a stupid joke, and when his drink was ready he took it without fuss and never asked the barista on bar to 'fix it'.
i think mr. whim's psychiatrist must have upped his medication because today he even complimented the skills of my manager on bar.

remember this barista?
well, after several talks from management, he finally got his overbearing girlfriend in check. sure, she still called him - but only during break. and sure, she still came in the store, but her tantrums lasted only a few minutes as opposed to entire shifts.
it's been no secret that their relationship remains quite contentious - this barista has even confided to his fellow partners about the constant mental and verbal abuse at home - but all of us were blown away the day he walked out of our store (in the middle of his shift) and out of her life.
that's right - he pulled a runner. his (ex)girlfriend has been coming in daily to see if we have any news of this missing barista. he has been a no-show to all his shifts this week, and is not answering his phone or returning calls. his girlfriend is freaking out because rent will be due soon and although she always gave this barista shit for working at bux (instead of some higher profile job) she was always happy to take his earnings so that she would only have to work one day a week.
i hope he is still alive (i was, in a rather cryptic manner, assured by another barista that he is fine) and i hope he gets his life in order.

and of course, the final surprise is mrs. moocher.
after yelling that i'd 'mortally offended' her, she is now trying to be my new BFF. she hasn't tried her mooching scam on me, but does come in for a venti iced water and a chat.
"brat, i just want you to know that i think of you often and i'm glad we are able to put that nastiness behind us!" she told me awhile back.
but last night she decided to make it a very special visit by bringing her invalid sister to the store to meet me.
"brat! this beautiful young lady is my sister," she pushed forward the wheelchair in which her very aged sibling was resting in. "i had to take her to the doctor today, but i brought her in especially to meet you!"
seriously - what the hell?!?
again, mrs. moocher did not try and run her scam (overtly). she just asked for an iced water and then began to tell me how expensive her sister's healthcare is. when she finally left, my fellow partners could not contain their laughter.
"brat, you're soooo cold-hearted!" barista buddy chuckled. "you should give that old lady her coffee for free - not charging her regular price! can't you see she needs every penny for her sister?"
so i guess mrs. moocher is trying to kill me with kindness and guilt. and it would probably work if i didn't catch on that this is just another of her scams - lengthy and well-thought out, yes, but still a scam.

barista rant: just because you work for bux does not mean you can come into my store, act like a total bitch, and get your drink for free PLUS a free coupon. i don't care if you've been a partner for 'years and years'. i don't care if 'the other bux' gives you beverages for free. i've never seen you before in my life - and even if i had, you'd still only get your thirty percent discount. and no, telling us we are the worst bux ever is not an effective way to demand a free drink coupon.


pot belly

in a previous post i mentioned my latest headache: doobie newbie. i wish i could say that since that post he's improved immensely, but that would be so very far from the truth.

now, doobie newbie is a very nice guy. he comes in to each of his shifts with a smile on his face and a sincere 'how are you?' to each of his fellow partners. unfortunately his good mood has to be attributed to the fact that he is either lit, or will be getting lit shortly after work. it is painfully obvious to us baristas that doobie newbie is not a good fit for bux, that he's only working a job so that he can fund his habit, and that he has no interest in doing his apron proud. unfortunately management is either really clueless, or purposely turning a blind eye to all this.

for my past three shifts i have been stuck 're-training' doobie newbie. sure, he's already had two learning coaches, and yes he's been given ample time to learn drink recipes, but as you probably already well guessed - the boy is greener than al gore.
my patience is being tried like it's never been tried before. several other baristas have already 'washed their hands' of doobie newbie, saying it's easier to work around him than work with him.

"brat, did you hear what he did this time?" is the first thing i now hear when i start my workday.
"he just stands there like an idiot! he doesn't know his ass from his brain!" bitter old man will huff.
"seriously, i don't think this is the right line of work for him." awesomely amazing barista generously concedes.

sometimes it seems as if doobie newbie wants nothing more than to fail.
"how many pumps of vanilla are in a tall vanilla latte?" i quizzed him for the millionth time this morning.
"uh, one." he answered while jangling the change in his pocket.
"remember what the general rule for syrups is?" i smiled encouragingly, hoping he'd dust off his neural pathways.
"uh, no." he smiled back at me.
"ok, generally the rule is 3-4-5 for hot drinks. that means three pumps for a tall, four pumps for a grande and five pumps for a venti. so, how many pumps go into a tall vanilla latte?"
"vanilla?" he answered my question with another question.
"yeah, how many pumps of vanilla go into a tall vanilla latte?"
"vanilla goes into a vanilla latte, right?"
"yes." i took a deep breath so that i could remain calm. "the general syrup rule for hot drinks is 3-4-5, so how many pumps of vanilla syrup would you put in a tall vanilla latte?"
"uh, five." he smiled again.
"remember - three pumps for a tall, four pumps for a grande and five pumps for a venti. so, how many pumps go into a tall?"
"i don't remember."
"three." i told him through gritted teeth. "three pumps of vanilla are in a tall vanilla latte. again - how many pumps are in a tall vanilla latte?"
"it gets vanilla!" he beamed, so proud of himself.

i swear, this guy makes sean penn in 'i am sam' look like a friggen' rhodes scholar.

barista rant: don't bitch at me because there's no soy milk at the condiment bar. don't complain about how 'eco-unfriendly' bux is because we don't have a designated pitcher of soy milk at your disposal. first - how the hell does having a pitcher of soy milk at the condiment bar make one 'eco-friendly'. second - it would be MORE wasteful for us to constantly supply soy milk at the condiment bar since we have to DUMP any left over milk after thirty minutes time! and third - you nitwit! all you had to do was ask for some soy milk and we would have given it to you. the time you wasted bitching at me could have been spent enjoying your damn coffee!