lies, lies, lies - yeah

i know i've blogged before about lying customers who think baristas are the most gullible form of mankind on the planet, and how their untruths are as transparent as clingwrap, but since i've been back behind the bar it seems as if there has been an outbreak of dishonesty.
now really, do these people really think they're the first ones to come to the register with an empty cup and claim their beverage was made wrong?
that one of our baristas promised them three free drinks?
that they bought four pounds of coffee and accidentally left them in the lobby the day before?
that the manager 'from the other bux' said our bux would give them an espresso machine at a 50% discount?
that one of our baristas was so rude that our manager was going to give the customer ten free beverage coupons?
that they bought a sandwich the night before and it had a bug in it, just like the last four sandwiches they'd 'purchased'?
that the coupon they made using photoshop was approved for use by mr. schultz himself?

just last night i had this happen:
"uh, where's my drink?" skater dude asked the barista on bar.
now this was during my closing shift. i was the register partner, one barista was on break and the other barista was on bar. after ringing up all the customers in the store, i went to the backroom so i could fill milk carafes.
"what?" my fellow barista asked skater dude, finding it improbable that i would forget to mark a cup.
"my drink - i ordered a drink and you never made it." skater dude responded with much attitude.
"hang on just a sec," bar barista said to skater dude, then poking his head in the backroom asked, "hey brat - did this guy order a drink?"
i walked out of the backroom to find skater dude impatiently tapping his cell phone against the hand off bar.
"dude - you didn't order a thing." i practically spat, pissed that he was trying to run a game on us.
"yeah i did," he countered. "i ordered a venti -"
"no, you didn't." i interrupted him.
seeing he'd been caught, and we weren't stupid enough to believe him, he sheepishly walked out of the store muttering, "oh, i thought my friends bought me something."

and today this happened:
customer: "so, like, i called your corporate office because last week you guys overcharged my credit card by a hundred bucks. they told me that all i had to do was come back here and you'd give me a cash refund."
barista brat: *knowing full well this guy was a scammer* "i'm sorry, but i can't do anything on this end for you. if you're already talking with corporate about it, they should be able to help you out."
customer: "oh yes you can do something for me because your head offices said you have to."
barista brat: "sorry, no."
customer: "you do. i was on the phone with helen this morning and she said you had to give me the hundred back in cash."
barista brat: "if you like you can come back tomorrow when my manager is here -"
customer: "no! i don't have time to be running back here everyday! you guys OWE me. helen TOLD me that you HAVE to give me the money."
barista brat: "i'm sorry, but i don't have any authority to give you cash."
customer: "yes you do! HELEN gave you that authority!"
barista brat: "sorry, but my manager would be the best person to help you."
customer: "you ARE sorry."
barista brat: "yeah, have a great day."

barista rant: telling me how much fun it is to work with me, and how great you think i am will NOT blind me to the fact that you are the laziest of the lazies. smiling a lot and trying to be my buddy will not keep me from getting on your case every time i see you slacking. and offering to bake me a cake to welcome me back to the store (even though you were hired while i was away) is not enough of a bribe to make up for your bad work ethic. guess what? getting me to like you is the easiest thing in the world. all you have to do is your JOB.


my new bff

i'm back at bux and it's pretty much the same - except harder since my store lost some core people who were replaced by some pretty weak newbies. oi. and right before holiday as well.

my first shift back seemed like it would be pretty uneventful. my manager was nice and gave me a short shift to ease me back into the whole coffee slinging thing. in fact, the day would have been pretty much golden if it weren't for the borrowed partner who was scheduled to work with me.

now borrowed partners can either be really great, or really horrid.
sometimes they want to make such a great impression that they work very efficiently, or they have such great personalities and work ethics that they seamlessly blend in with our regular partners and customers.
but sometimes they are pissed they have to cover a shift at a store that's not their own, so they have bad attitudes, are lazy, or spend the entire day commenting on how much better their store is.

the borrowed partner i worked with is in a class all her own.
right from the beginning i knew she wasn't going to be stellar, but i was hopeful she would at least be decent. she's been with the company for a couple years so presumably she knew how to make drinks and ring up customers. she's also in her late forties, so i was hoping maturity wouldn't be an issue.
in between rushes, when baristas should be cleaning and restocking, she slid next to me and said in a hushed tone "i think i might be pregnant".
now, let me just say that although i consider myself a friendly person, and i welcome conversation, telling me that you might be pregnant when i don't even know you is waaaaaaay too much information for this brat. really, all i want you to do is work, capiche?

"my husband has been out of the country for three years," she continued in subdued tones, "and i know he has been cheating on me. i have been faithful for over twenty years, but i can only take so much, so i started going out to clubs - "
"can you refill the milk fridge?" i interrupted her, not knowing a better way to get her to quit her story.
seriously, i was in shock that she was pouring all this out to me.
me! a person, who ten minutes previous, was a complete stranger!
"and i met a man," she continued after re-stocking the fridge. "and it is nothing serious but i think i am pregnant. my son is going to kill me if i'm pregnant! but what else can it be? i am ten days late and i am nauseous."

now, i really didn't want to deal with this my first day back. all i wanted was her to do her job. maybe some light conversation about movies or music, but that's all. no shoe dropping. no maury povich moments. just two baristas making coffee and keeping a clean store.

"my husband doesn't even send me money, and now i might have someone else's baby. what do you think i should do?" she asked in a whisper.

are you serious?!?
what the hell?!?
not only does she confide in someone she doesn't know, but she asks what SHE should DO?
WHO does this?!?

"uh, i have NO idea." i answered - incredulous that i was even having this conversation. "why don't you go take a break." i suggested just to have her out of my hair.

when she came back from her break she again slid next to me to pour out her woes. i, as nicely as i could, informed her that we really didn't have time to talk since there was so much work that needed to be done. she seemed to understand, but not two minutes later she had cornered barista buddy and again was whispering to a stranger that she thought she was pregnant. and when barista buddy made it clear this was not a conversation he wanted to be a part of, she started telling customers about her problems - still in that same hushed tone that made it seem like she wanted it kept a secret.
lady! it's no secret if you tell it to the whole world, no matter how low you keep your voice!

to maintain my sanity i put her on dish duty in the backroom and kept her there until her shift was over. i wasn't trying to be mean, but really, this lady had no clue as to what was appropriate. and being well into her forties you'd think she'd figure out that bux is certainly not the place to field advice about out of wedlock babies. at least it shouldn't be.
"welcome back, brat!" barista buddy laughed after she'd left. "by the way," he whispered, "i think i'm PREGNANT!"

barista rant: we don't mind that, although you're homeless, you come in and use our bathroom - especially since you are usually respectful and are relatively clean. but you may not panhandle in our store. it is NOT ok to ask customers if they will buy you a cup of coffee or a sandwich. and if someone is nice enough to buy you a meal, don't come back twenty minutes later and expect us to give you a cash refund because you didn't like the sandwich!


district manage-errors

next week i will again be a barista, so this post will be yet another customer rant:

i know how much it sucks when the district and regional manager come to visit (re: scrutinize) a store. not only are all the baristas and managers on edge, but the higher ups always seem to forget that we actually have a store to run. they will continually pull a barista off task to wipe down the lobby chairs, dust the light fixtures, or clean a coffee spill near the outside dumpster. they turn a blind eye to the line of customers waiting for service. they ignore the fact that there is one barista on bar and fifteen drinks on deck. and they blame the store manager for everything - even things beyond their power.

i understand these higher ups have a job to do, and that they want their stores to look perfect, but they must remember that customers don't come in to bux to admire the bean displays. they come in for their beverages and they don't want to wait an inordinate amount of time to partake of them.

it should be apparent to the higher ups that we baristas HATE these visits because it is literally like throwing a wrench into the cogs of an already strained machine. it ruins our mood to be nitpicked, it breaks our flow, and it annoys the customers.

and today it really annoyed THIS customer.

not only did it take an eon to place my order - it took three times as long to get my drink. and it wasn't because the baristas were being slow and lazy. in fact the two baristas on the floor were busting their asses to stay afloat.
the reason?
barista #3 was scraping gum from underneath the hand off bar.
barista #4 was cleaning the grout in the backroom.
and the store manager had been pulled off the floor so the district manager could relay to him everything that was wrong with the rtd case.
such as the vitamin waters had some of their labels facing off center, one of the organic chocolate milks was missing a straw, and one of the protein trays was on the wrong shelf.

now, i understand that these things need to be taken care of - but NOT when you have a line to the door and only two baristas actually working the floor. unfortunately district and regional managers are rarely aware of what working as a barista is really like, and even if they once knew they have blocked out the memories.

i felt really bad for the manager and his employees at this bux. visits like this always suck - for them AND for the customers.


not-so-secret shopper

i've taken a much needed break from bux.
for the past few months i've been a customer only, and not a barista. soon i will have to return to my place behind the bar, but i must say that i have truly enjoyed my time away from my store. and although i've always believed myself to be very in tune with the feelings of my customers, i have now a more complete perspective of their experiences.
yes - i have walked a mile in their caffeine-deprived shoes, which is why this post will be a huge customer rant.

rant #1 -
there is really no reason - NO REASON - why i should have to wait six minutes for my second beverage. especially when both beverages are americanos and only require espresso and water. i can't fathom what possible justification you might have for making my first americano, then ignoring my second to make three frappuccinos that were ordered AFTER mine. did you need a break from pulling espresso shots, or are you just really daft?

rant #2 -
i am fully aware that some customers can be rude jerks, but i am not one of them. in fact, i smiled when i walked up to your register and politely ordered my beverage like so: "hi, i'd like a tall, roomy americano, please."
what is so offensive about that?
seriously, i'd like to know because the stinkeye you gave me really seemed out of line. as did the "you want WHAT in your americano?". and the fact that you did not hand me back my change, but dropped it on the counter while bellowing out "NEXT!" to the customer behind me. i do not expect you to kiss my butt, but a modicum of tact would be much appreciated.

rant #3 -
your. bathroom. is. disgusting.

rant #4 -
i appreciate the fact that you are cleaning the condiment bar, i really do. and i REALLY appreciate the fact that you are changing out the milk containers. what i don't appreciate is watching my coffee turn cold while i wait for you to bring out the new milk containers. instead you decided it was a perfect time to go outside and chat with one of your friends and take pictures on your cell phone.
and when i asked the barista for some half and half, he just pointed at you and said "she's bringing it" when clearly you were on an unofficial break.
please finish your tasks before slacking off, yeah?

rant #5 -
i understand that training in necessary, but if you're going to put a newbie on bar, please let there be a more experienced barista there to double bar, especially when the line waiting for beverages is three times as long as the line waiting to order. it is NOT time effective when the newbie has to ask the person on register "how do i make this?" every time she picks up a cup. i saw three drinks that went out wrong, and you know what? those three customers didn't bother to let the newbie know because they didn't have the time to wait for a remake - not that the second drink would have been made correctly anyway.

rant #6 -
i know it's fun to work with your friends. in fact that's one of the reasons i love working at my store. however - please be polite and professional enough to take a break from your conversation to take my order. just because you are avoiding making eye contact with me while i wait at the register does not mean you can finish your chatfest uninterrupted. you are, remember, getting paid to work. you are not getting paid to gossip - that is just a perk.

rant #7 -
please do not clean the wax out of your ears while on register. ever.

i've really enjoyed my life as a "civilian" but very soon i will be back behind the bar with more rants.