S is for…
What to say about the 4 years I worked there? Well, treatment first the bad because bad is always funnier than the good.
Crazy managers (and some of them were really off-their-rocker crazy), heart demanding and mean customers, visit Lake Frappuccino in the summer, homeless people falling down the stairs (where the bathrooms were) and asking for blow jobs (although kinda funny), people s*%$ing all over the bathrooms and hallway downstairs (how?). I once thought it would be fun to write a one-person play about being a barista. I mean, If you look at this I even looked the part: black glasses and hair pulled back in a ponytail (in fact, the ‘action figure’ has darker hair in real life). Sbux is rather an easy target to make fun of – I mean, they do it to themselves with creating their own coffee language and turning their customers into high maintenance people.
Like I mentioned in my previous post I opened the store a lot. This meant I usually had to get up between 4:30 and 5:30 in the morning depending on the store and the day of the week. At that time of the morning there are certain things I can’t be bothered with: contact lenses and make-up. Glasses and no-makeup always led to this comment: “you really look tired.” So, on the days when I wasn’t opening up the store I would put a little more effort in which lead to such comments as: “wow you really look great today, you must have gotten some sleep last night.”
My favorite comment, which falls into what I call the Nompliment category because it is Not a Compliment no matter how it was intended is: Boy, you sure clean up nice. Usually expressed when a customer sees you outside of work.
Uh… thanks? (Jerk)
I once had a customer who made me remake his cappuccino 3x because the foam wasn’t like he had it in Italy. Finally, my friend and fellow barista stepped in so she could make the drink which further incensed this customer because he was trying to teach me how to make proper foam. Another customer told me he could get better service at a truck stop.
Most ridiculous drink award goes to Mr. Decaf, Quad, Ristretto, Venti, 180 degrees, Soy, Extra Caramel, Layered Caramel, Caramel Macchiato. (I probably got the order of that wrong since it has been a while since I worked there). To translate that for the lay person: a ristretto shot is only half the shot, you are supposed to pull it out at a certain time. Essentially this guy was paying for 4 shots but only wanting 2. ????? The layered caramel bit means that you pour a little milk in, then add some caramel, then pour a little more milk, them more caramel etc. You could see us all scatter when this guy came into the store.
The questions: This was my rule when training new baristas – limit the amount of questions you ask the customers.
“I would like a coffee please.”
Tall, Grande or Venti?
Light or Dark?
Would you like room for cream?
“I take milk?”(Not the point of my question but that was usually the answer unless I asked if they needed room for milk and then they would tell me they wanted cream).
Never ask more than three questions. If it is some old guy who asks for a small coffee you give him a Tall light roast and leave room for milk and he will tell you later if it wasn’t how he wanted it but if you start throwing questions at him he will most likely get mad because really he just wants a cup of coffee.
That also reminds me of the customer who would ask us to fill up her coffee to the top and then would proceed to pour a good portion of it out into the garbage so she could add milk. We tried to leave room for milk and she got mad at us. Sometimes she would pour too much out and then ask us to top it up.
Out of the group of friends I have now, most of them I met while working at Sbux. One was a bridesmaid at my wedding and lives next door. I was a bridesmaid in another girls wedding last summer (incidentally I also introduced her to her hubby). One, I am so sad to say is moved away on Sunday. Another, thankfully, moved back to town recently. Working with the right people would totally make my day.
Pulling pranks on each other: I don’t know how many times I put almond syrup in my friend Dave’s water and he still didn’t think to check before taking a big sip. Sucker. Another guy we worked with drove us nuts because he was so hyper. According to him sugar and caffeine didn’t affect him – according to us all his drinks were made decaf and sugar free whenever possible. I think we did that for two years before he realized it.
The Customers: I would say that 85% of our customers were awesome – it’s always the jerks who stand out though. Some customers realized we knew how to talk about much more than the weather. Kind people and regulars can make a tedious and mundane job wonderful. I still get stopped in the street by former regulars who want to know what I am up to these days.
The view from Stirling Castle
I think everyone has a country, other than their own, that they feel an affinity with. For me, this is Scotland. I thought that after going to Ireland this year it would be Ireland but I really do love Scotland. Maybe it is because I lived there for six months after graduating from University. Unfortunately I was in a pretty bad place while I was there (emotionally, not literally – the “place” I was in literally was my parent’s flat in Aberdeen and it was lovely) and have often felt like my time there was wasted as I pined away from a boyfriend back home who was sleeping with someone else… but that’s a whole other entry.
The first time I went to Scotland I was 16. I was on tour with choir and we were attending the Aberdeen International Youth Festival. I have hazy memories of that trip (probably sleep deprivation) but I do remember the hills of heather, small Scottish towns where we would sing in churches or town halls and the local old ladies would serve us cold quiche and trifle. I remember being in awe of Edinburgh and the castle. What I remember most from that trip can only be considered a pinnacle moment in my life. I had become very close with one of the boys in the choir, hanging out with him all the time and eating all the food his mother had packed for him in his suitcase. One night he tried to kiss me and I was shocked. I didn’t realize he felt that way about me and I had a boyfriend back home who I was crazy about. Needless to say he was very hurt and I felt I had lost a great friend. It dawned on me that I had probably been leading him on without knowing it and since that day I have always tried to be careful not to lead any of my male friends on. The story, as some of you know, has a happy ending of course. That friend and I made up at some point during the trip, stayed friends for years and is in the kitchen right now making a lemon cake while our daughter sleeps. So yeah, Scotland has a special place in my heart. The Mister and I went back there this summer so I could make some happy memories of him carrying my backpack around, taking silly pictures and me getting queasy on bus rides with Moira growing in my belly.
Favourite things from Scotland: