XXX

No, this is not the money shot from an awkward Starbucks-affiliated pornographic film.
No, the cup is not defective.
And no, this is not my drink.

This is the latest craze (and when I say craze, I mean a fucking epidemic) to hit my store and every other that offers “thai” or condensed milk. This is a combination of an iced tea, specifically passion tea in the photo, and thai drizzled on the inside or “walls” of the cup. Through the help of smart phones and instant internet access, this Frankenstein creation has infected the minds of the innocent and impressionable. Just look up #thaiwalls on your neighborhood media-sharing network and you’ll see what I mean.

Normally, thai is used with espresso, be it a latte, americano, what have you. This is Starbucks’ attempt at mimicking the beloved iced coffee served in pho restaurants across my state. I say state because ever-so conveniently, mine’s is the only one that offers this syrup; a gift and a curse, really.

I personally love thai. When used correctly, the heavenly notes of cream and sugar lightly prance over your taste buds, leaving you with a lingering buzz to last throughout the day. Incorrectly, it’s jizz in a cup: sticky and messy with a feeling of vast emptiness as you wonder why you succumbed to this bastard child of Starbucks’ debauchery.

I’m not against change. I’m not against freedom to sugar and calories. I’m not against anything the customer is willing to pay for.

What I’m against is carpal tunnel.

I really asked myself why I hate this customization so much. Yeah, it gets really annoying to fill up bottle after bottle of thai because it comes in a very inconvenient can that you literally need to scrape all the sauce out of. Sure it’s a waste of money to get thai smeared on the walls of the cup when it can simply be shaken in, giving the drink the entire full taste it duly deserves. But most of all, the actual act of squeezing a bottle to create thai “art” on the walls of a cup, a cup that will eventually be thrown away and never looked at again, puts a lot of unnecessary stress on the shoulder and wrist. This stress turns into a numbing pain night after night until you can barely lift your arm past your shoulder, let alone make a frappuccino.

I am barely getting through my quarter-life crisis (i.e. marriage, job security, wrinkles!)  No job, not even Starbucks, is worth damaging my nerves for the rest of my life.

So I resent thai walls. I resent any walls. It’s bad enough Howard Schultz’ ideas of hand-crafting every drink one by one and repeating the same motions over and over have activated pain in my joints that I only thought possible in retirement homes. Now I have you, the consumer, requesting senseless designs on a disposable cup that could’ve easily been added directly to your already diabetic beverage?

I say nay.

But alas, I can only speak for my arm and the many other arms who would rather fling syrup into your mouth than on a cup. That way, you can feel exactly as I do after a shift, much like an old washed-up adult film star…

…numb and sticky.

How to order.

1. Seriously, I’m not psychic.

THIS IS THE SIMPLEST AND MOST FUNDAMENTAL DETAIL I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR DRINK: ICED OR HOT.
I can’t read your mind. No matter if the weather is hot or cool, I don’t assume you would automatically want an iced drink because it’s the middle of summer. So YOU should not assume I would know what YOU prefer.
Too many times have I been hit with this statement at the pick-up counter, “Oh I wanted it iced/hot…” Really? Then why didn’t you say so at the register? The barista had to have picked up a plastic or paper cup right in front of your face to write down your order. I don’t hate customers so much that I would torture them with a 160 degree beverage in a malleable plastic cup. Never, NEVER assume.

2. Size matters.

“What’s a medium?” Uh, you’ve already indicated what size you wanted. Even if I told you the actual name, you wouldn’t remember it anyway. Not only because of your goldfish-like wonder at every Starbucks you’ve ever been in, but also because you were that lazy to not look up at the giant menu boards and figure it out for yourself.
Short, Tall, Grande, Venti, Trenta. XSmall, Small, Medium, Large, XLarge. However you say it, I will understand. What I won’t understand is you constantly repeating every mundane detail of your drink WITHOUT telling me what size you want it in. For example;

Customer: “I’d like a black tea sweetened with strawberry.”
Barista: “Sure, what size would you like it?”
Customer: “Oh my name is Kathy.”
Barista: “Oh okay, but what size?”
Customer: “The black tea.”
Barista: “Yes the black tea with strawberry, but what size would you like it?”
Customer: “Yeah the iced one. And I want it sweetened.”
Barista (reaching over to the actual cups pointing out the sizes) “…… Yeah… um… a venti?”
Customer: “No I said small.”

NO YOU DIDN’T.

Seriously, please listen. I’m a person capable of conversation, I hope you are too.

3. Don’t try to tell me how to do my job.

As you saw in the simulated interaction between the barista and customer (not so simulated where I’ve never experienced it firsthand), a lot of the times customers will assume that we don’t know what they’re talking about.

Please. I get paid to do this. I think I know the drill by now. If you say black tea with strawberry, I know it’s iced because frankly hot black tea and strawberry sounds (and probably tastes) disgusting. So stop repeating that you want it cold. If you really do want it hot, I expect by now that you will say so since it’s such an odd drink to request in the first place.

There is a list of Starbucks standards that regulate how baristas call out drinks to each other. It’s designed so we say the least amount of things, minimizing confusion and chaos. Here are some examples:
– Skinny vanilla latte: Automatically comes with non-fat milk; it’s why we call it a skinny. So stop reconfirming that you want skim milk (and by the way non-fat milk and skim milk are the same thing, common sense people).
– Mocha frappuccino: Automatically gets whip cream so you don’t need to keep reminding me that you want it, even if I didn’t call it out. No I didn’t forget the ten times you’ve reiterated how much you want the fatty substance. I don’t have Alzheimer’s.
– Iced tea/tea-lemonade/coffee: Automatically comes sweetened with liquid sugar. Yes you can tell me you want it sweetened. But when I call it out to my co-worker with saying the actual word “sweetened,” they know what I mean so I don’t need your two-cent interruption “Um, I said sweetened…” Yeah… I know.

Sure, tell me all the specifications you’ve come up with in your wide and vast imagination. Your lack of understanding of what goes on behind the bar is by no means a justification to instruct me on how to do my job. Your comments are excessive and useless. Please stop.

4. MAKE UP YOUR MIND.

Biggest pet peeve about the ordering process? Customers not knowing what they want by the time they reach the register. What were you doing the entire time you were waiting in line??
Oh wait, I know what you were doing: talking on your phone, talking to your friend, texting, instagraming, checking in, yelping, spacing out, staring at that girl’s boobs/guy’s tattoos, etc., etc., etc.

Classic example:
Barista: “Hi, what can I get for you?”
Customer: “Oh! Um… Hm… I don’t even know what to get!”
Barista: “…”
Customer: “Hm…”
Barista: “…”
Customer: “Maybe… No… Hm…”
Barista: “…”
Customer: “Um…”
Barista: “…”

Yeah. Every dot is a second wasted of my life that I will never get back. Be considerate. Don’t waste my time.

*You can argue that point number one could be blamed on the barista for not asking you if you would like it iced or hot. But really, it almost never happens. I’ve had customers argue “Well I said iced…” and the barista who rang them up will roll their eyes from across the floor, meaning they did ask and the customer absentmindedly agreed. Really LISTEN. Remember what I said about actually talking with the barista?

And if you really just can’t stick to any of these guidelines because they’re beneath you, over you, all up in your face and everywhere else in between, just remember this… we are people too. People who come to work every day with the hopes that they will leave the establishment with a happy heart and a solid mental state. At the end of the day, aren’t we all just looking for some peace amidst the chaos? I am a firm believer in the golden rule: treat others as you wish to be treated. To take it a step further, I’ve upgraded to the platinum rule: treat others BETTER than you wish to be treated.
What this means is really TALK to me. Be concise, articulate, and descriptive. I don’t care if you don’t know the lingo if you’re willing to be patient and have a conversation with me. Hey, I might actually be friendly and remember your name. You might even get some tips and a new favorite drink out of it.

Or just go to Coffee Bean. Whiners can’t be choosers.

Back to the ‘Bux.

I’ve been away.

Sorry to my few (and fiercely loyal) subscribers but life had reared its ugly head.

To keep it short, I finished college, watched my parents divorce, found the love of my life, and decided to go to grad school. But most importantly, and most relevant to this blog, I quit Starbucks. To say what particularly made me walk out of my shift that fateful afternoon, I couldn’t tell you.

Well actually I guess I can. I wasn’t getting paid enough to deal with such a degree of bullshit.

If you recall the “Shooter” post, my manager at the time was the demon lord of corporate upper management. Needless to say, I “abandoned” my job (his words, not mine) when I couldn’t resist the urge to shove his face under the hot water facet no longer. I was going into my last semester before graduation and figured I did the smart thing by leaving all the drama where it began in the first place. I vowed to never go back and proudly posted a facebook status update that read, “Goodbye Starbucks, fuck you Shooter.”

Six months later, I was broke. And I reapplied.

Thanks to some ass-kissing and friends in influential places, I got the job. During the interview, my now-manager and assistant manager asked me why I wanted to go back to Starbucks. For a second, I had to ask myself the same question. Why… Why did I want to go back to a place that caused me so much emotional and physical pain, especially now that I had a college degree?

On the surface, it was an easy answer. I want to go to grad school in Seattle and figured Starbucks would be a guaranteed job when I move. But really, I am an able-minded and able-bodied person in my early 20’s. I am kidding myself thinking that Starbucks would be the only place willing to pay me to work up in Washington. Grad school is really just a feasible excuse. I really do like making coffee. I like the company and its never-ending benefits. I like the random customers who make me laugh and my regulars who have gone through the trouble to ask my name and remember it, just as I have their’s. And most of all, I love, love, LOVE my co-workers. I’m not quite a “lifer” (noun. one who is devoted for life to Starbucks), but I can see why many of those around me have chosen to be one.

Sorry I got soft.

So anyway, I’m back. Until I get fired or win the lottery, whatever comes first.

Partner to Partner II.

In light of my era ending at my beloved 21032 at Macy’s Ala Moana, all my partners deserve to be STAAHs. (Inside joke, sorry.)

MARK MIKI: silly Miki
Like Keila Ben, Mark Miki is the kind of funny that you just need to be there to fully appreciate. Despite working with him only a handful of times, he has become a partner that I look forward to closing with whenever I see him on the schedule. Not only is he a well-seasoned veteran, having worked at multiple Starbucks and being a shift supervisor at one point, but this kid has the best “feminine” voice a straight guy can ever hope to have (if straight guys even hope for that kind of thing… haha). I always try to make him use the voice as he calls out drinks but alas, my persuasive skills are not enough for the world to be enlightened with his, um, gift? Sorry world.
There’s a weird similarity between Mark Miki and I… We can be the biggest jerks or the nicest baristas a customer could hope for. Granted these days, Mark Miki has learned to mask his inner thoughts better than I ever could. But I know when he’ll turn his head behind the espresso machine and whisper how much of a douche that 1%, no foam latte guy was because I was thinking the same thing. For that, I thank you Mark Miki. I’m glad I’m not the only one who still registers irritation with the human race.
Did I mention his name is three syllables like mine and really addicting to say in full?? Haha.

MARCY SASADA: the cheery cherub
My Mazzy, aka Marcy, is the most warm and cheerful barista that I have ever been lucky enough to work with. She has the kind of genuine laughter that invites you to laugh as well, no matter if you even know what exactly you are laughing for. While she is one of the best people to collaborate with behind the espresso machines, she truly shines at the register. She knows every regular and they recognize her cheery disposition as quickly as she remembers their names. She’s received numerous customer comments on her exceptional customer service and unlike me, it never falters, no matter how frustrated the shift might be. Her worst is probably my best. Or more accurately, her positive attitude encourages me to put a thicker, braver face on. Her hard-earned brownie points with customers makes me want to keep the good energy flowing all the way up till they get their desired beverage.
When she was promoted, I couldn’t have been more happy to work under her leadership, despite being the same level before. Not a lot of baristas can manage this kind of transition of respect and Marcy did it beautifully. My only complaint is that I no longer work with her and my only wish is for her laughter to “light up my life.” I miss you dearly Mazzy. Come back soon!

ALICIA YEH: the savior
For our loss of Mazzy, we got Alicia instead. Our new assistant manager came to us when we needed her the most. Her cool and calm presence kept us sane through the Shooter tyranny. She came to us at five months pregnant, yet she worked just as hard as the rest of us. She man-handled our store like her ballooning bundle of joy was light as a bubble, unlike the blundering, un-pregnant idiot who wreaked havoc on anything he laid his hands on. Our anger and frustration was unbearable and I can only imagine the stress it must’ve caused her as she wielded the children of our store as well as the child growing inside of her. Yet, she always managed to be the rational and motivating leader we needed when times got tough. She respected everyone of us as much as we respected her. And the lady is funny as hell. How we could not love her??
For your unwavering smile and everlasting grace, I thank you, Alicia, for being the pillar of strength in the eye of the storm. Congratulations to your beautiful son! Mazel tov to escaping the clutches of Starbucks and not giving birth in the wet room!

SANDY REVIS WILLBANKS: our mama
Sandy was our assistant manager before Alicia and the only other Korean coworker I’ve had at Starbucks. Needless to say, we bonded. An endless supply of anecdotes were at our fingertips and our conversations fired at will. She was a pleasure to work with and kept all of us in check. She is an encyclopedia of Starbucks’ standards, a crucial figure to have in a store in order to pass the QASA test given by corporate.
She too comforted us during the Shooter regime with an endless supply of food and laughter. She cared like a mama to a group of orphaned children left under the care of an evil caretaker only thought perceivable in fairy tales. As tired as she got, as rough as the situation grew, she was there to keep us together, to remind us that at least we, minus Shooter, were still a team.
She has left as well, to nurture another group of green-aproned stores that I am sure love her as much as we do.

NICK YAMAGUCHI: Boss
Nick was the Boss. Nick is Boss. What more can I say?!
But really, this man is by far the best manager I’ve had in my years of part-time employment. Level-headed yet stern, strict yet caring, hard-working yet silly, he has all the qualities you could ever wish for in a  leader and more. He was dedicated to not only the store but to all the partners in his care. We would only hope that he would go home and leave the frappuccino trenches if not for a few hours so that he wouldn’t get so burnt out and never come back. The man just didn’t know how to stay away! He even came in on his days off to drop off supplies and take care of business.
He pushed the bitchy barista out of me. It was a struggle, I’m sure, for him as much as it was for me. He commands the kind of respect that is only deserved because of genuine charisma and good character. You couldn’t help but to be the best worker because he was the best worker. He is as polite and as respectful as a gentlemen should be but he carries an air of boyish charm that you can’t help but to admire. He’s a local guy, with all the local slang under his belt which he busts out whenever he feels like joking around with us. It’s a literal hoot. His wife, Yuni, is just as dear to us as he is. They are almost sickeningly the nicest people I know and I’m glad to have met them.
His departure was bittersweet; bitter that he left us and sweet that he got to escape the green apron. What a sad and considerable loss to Starbucks that day was.

Of course there are more partners to immortalize but for now part II will have to do.
It’s these trips down memory lane that remind me I am not such a miserable person all of the time. But there is more bad than good in the world of frappuccinos and cappuccinos so the blogs must continue. How sad the mortal life.

Shoot me.

Every once in while, you meet an individual so spectacular that you wish you could share this person to the world. This person for me is my Starbucks store manager.

I fucking hate that douche.

Be not confused by my choice of vocabulary. “Spectacular” in this sense refers to the sheer awe of stupidity that this man manages to be. I only want to “share” this person with all of you, in the flesh, because otherwise, it would be hard to believe such a neanderthal should exist.

Six feet tall, blue eyes, and a brain full of oatmeal, this guy has single-handedly made my last college summer a living hell. Despite living on an island surrounded by beaches and sunshine, I have made it to the ocean twice in the past three months. I have no tan to show off when I start up school. Just a handful of paychecks and overtime hours to display on my tattered green apron.

We have duly named this beast of incompetence “Shooter McGavin” from the movie Happy Gilmore. He not only looks like the despicable villain from the Adam Sandler movie but has the same personality as well, like he studied the movie script and devoted his life to be as much of a jerk-off as possible.

The Inevitable Beginning:
When we first heard of this man coming to lead our team, we were hopeful. He had big shoes to fill, being that our manger who was leaving was all but perfect in his leadership and managerial skills. We received tidbits of information from his resume (don’t ask how we got it, Starbucks is a cesspool of sneaks, tattletales, and spies… Just kidding, our regional manger emailed us giving a little background on him, but still, be wary of your mouth in this corporation; more on that in a later blog). I should have known from then that the store was doomed, that our perfect era would come to a slow and torturous end.
First of all, the sheer number of restaurants this man has jumped around is alarming. In the span of almost five years, he had held managerial positions at several different food establishments. While at first this may sound comforting given the high turnover rate in our industry, this standard is only held to the many young adolescents looking for various part-time positions. If you are middle-aged and constantly looking for job after job, that is a problem. Further investigation involving interviews with previous workers who’ve served under this man only proved my expectations. The first words to describe him were “perverted asshole.” Not a good combination in any perspective. When asked to explain, he was mostly described as being very sexual with female employees, lacking basic managerial skills, and creating a hostile work environment. But the last thing that was said about him was the kicker; HE WAS FIRED. It was confirmed that he was walked off the premises for at least two restaurants. How he even got to the initial interview with the higher Starbucks management team baffles me.
But as lowly baristas, we have no say in who we trust, depend, and lean on in our time of frappucino fury. Shooter’s arrival was inevitable, as our pitiful fates were.

The Long and Excruciating Middle:
At the very least, he was not a disappointment to the least of my expectations. In fact, Shooter met and even exceeded any preconceived notions I had of him. I suppose this was the first and only time this has happened for him.
He schemed, lied, and manipulated any and everyone who crossed his path. He accused supervisors for stealing, screwed up even the most simple of managerial tasks like scheduling, and blamed everybody but himself for his day-to-day failure of rearing the Macy’s stronghold. He was not responsible for the constant lack of simple supplies like cups and lids that we need daily nor was he at fault for never being on the floor as a solid leader to direct the chaotic traffic that goes on during any given shift.
A few examples of his horrendous lack of character and testicles:
1. He had no problem relaying private information from his life to explain his present incompetence, as if he would be a capable human being if life was just not so hard.
2. As expected, he never failed to come up with inappropriate comments to female employees. From commenting on a barista’s bra strap color that was shown peeking from a tank top to jokes about his own sexual appeal when the girls talked about good looking male customers (done off the floor, of course), Shooter’s done it all.
3. Lest we not forget the touching. The man had no sense of the personal bubble or boundaries to where and where not to touch an employee, especially a female one. Light touches around the upper waist, soft whispers to the inner ear, all acts we wish from our beloveds than the de-loved manager from hell.
4. He was a sickly man, constantly calling out of his shifts and even once, leaving a closing shift early with no other supervisors on the clock or in the store. He promptly gave me, a normal barista, the key and said to leave all the money in the registers, a very big, corporate NO-NO.
5. “I’m open to suggestions… It’s my way or the highway.” Yes, he said these two statements not a minute apart from each other at his first store meeting. My coworker, Amanda, promptly asked just what the hell he meant by it. Shooter stammered something inaudible and proceeded with his pointless speech. Whether he has short term memory or English is his fifth language, we have yet to figure out.
6. FAVORITISM. He wanted us to be his friends. A few faltered and gave in to his whims but the rest were clearly not taking the bait. And those who didn’t, paid dearly. He was hired to lead, not to congregate. You are a loud-mouthed, obnoxious liar in your mid-forties. No, I don’t want to be your friend.
7. He was a scatter-brained fool behind the bar. He neither had the finesse or discipline to man the bar for more than ten minutes on his own. He always looked like a scared, wide-eyed cockroach, skittering from here to there, trying to avoid the massive booted-foot of peer pressure as he failed hour after hour. Most shifts were left up to the veterans to delegate. We functioned effortlessly without his dooming presence and burst into flames the moment his sweaty brow dripped his salty tears all around the Verisimo espresso machines. After a while, he just gave up trying to keep up. He disappeared behind the corner and glued his eyes to the computer screen. If he was trying to take a page from the Phantom of the Opera, he should’ve at least put the mask on. It would’ve relaxed my gag reflex every time he peeked out from his dunce corner.
8. Liar, Liar, pants on fire. Need I say more?
I could go on and on. My coworkers can vouch for me. I encourage those of you who have your own Shooters experiences to comment back with them. If you don’t, I understand that you do not want to revisit those painful memories. Let they rest in hell with his rotted soul.

The Bitter End:
He could’ve left gracefully. He could’ve left promptly. But then again, that would not be the inconsiderate Shooter we had all come to hate and demonize. He chased away almost half of our team and replaced them with newbies he hoped would love him the way his parents never did. The store was in disarray. Everything was misplaced, nothing was recognizable. The regulars either left or learned to spot the veterans before standing in line. No one was happy; the bright luster of Starbucks Macy’s had dulled to the color of two week old dog poo. Eventually, the weight of our combined disdain and his unwillingness to perform as a capable store manger willed him to seek another food establishment to destroy.

You may ask why we didn’t speak up to upper management. Well, we did. You may ask why nothing was done. We ask the same thing. The corporate hotlines, the calls of complaint, the emails of concern, the endless meetings to get this man out were all done in vain. Shooter and the rest of us were all caught in the faults in the corporation. Starbucks may claim to be deeply involved in its workers’ lives but when where they going to save us from Hurricane Shooter? Where was our relief? Where was our support? While they might reason that given the bigger frame, he was a minor crack in their economic plans, he was a crater of inhumane evil and indecency in many people’s lives. How great is health insurance if you’re going to the doctor for migraines that are caused by the very institution that gave you the insurance in the first place?

All in all, he’s gone. That is the only good that came out of his green-aproned stint, his very departure. Good riddance.
I pass this word of warning to any and all restaurants, bars, coffee-shops, grocery stores, clothing stores, and any other establishment that barters goods for cash… Beware the man named Shooter.

Partner to Partner.

We are partners at Starbucks, not employees or co-workers, but partners. It is the official name corporate has come up with. I’m sure it’s to boost morale, comradery, pride, etc., etc., and etc. (If you ask me, it sounds like we’re in some big civil union cult and we’re all going to be eventually fed the kool-aid.)

I love my partners. They’re really what make or break you as a barista. These are the people that after a non-stop, five-hour rush during a Macy’s one-day sale that my Starbucks is so conveniently located next to, I can look up into their same exhausted faces and laugh about the gazillionth time a customer has asked me “Is this my drink?”
They keep me sane, they keep me focused, and most of all, they keep me happy. This is the core of Starbucks, the concept of a team, a family, of like people who will hold each other back indefinitely if one decides that they must jump over the espresso machine and bolt out the door with their aprons flung into the dark abyss of the frappuccino drain.
The characteristics of my beloved pseudo-family are varied and vast but there are some major ones that are apparent in every one of them:
– Loyal
– Funny
– Sarcastic

Examples:
CRYSTAL HABON: the epitome of loyalty
If you all could kindly reread the Crazies incident #1 post, this is the woman who stood behind me when the whole world pointed fingers. As part of upper management, she heard of this incident before I did. I’ve worked with her for almost a year now and she’s seen all there is to see with my Starbucks work ethic. She’s seen me at my best and very very worst with customers. Heck she’s even pulled me to the side and told me to cut the bitch-tude out! Despite all that, she didn’t believe a word of the crazy incident and chose to talk to me and hear my side of the story. When everyone else said it was “believable,” she’d rather it come from my mouth.
Granted this chic is my best friend, but this is a different kind of loyalty. We became friends for the sole reason that we had the same work ethic; work hard, work fast, just WORK. She says this herself all the time, that over anything she will “be on my ass the most” especially because we’re so close! The line between friendship and professionalism is very very thin but it’s bright neon yellow in our book and we have yet to overstep those boundaries.
She has stepped up to the plate for me numerous times. She has also struck me out and sent me to the batting cages as well. Through and through, she knows how to be my co-worker when she clocks in and my friend when she clocks out. What more can a partner ask for?

KEILA BEN: “I’m sorry” + Keila dance
Ahhh~ Keila Ben. Hahahaha I can’t help but laugh when I say her name. When I try to think of a specific incident to illustrate the type of funny Keila is, I can’t. It’s just a blur of uncontrollable laughter at the most random moments of the most mundane things. And that is true funny, the funny I need after an 8-hour shift on a Friday night.
If I can recall anything, it’s the shuffle dance Keila does when she’s trying to maneuver her way across our tiny store. We have a limited amount of floor space so bumps and bruises happen often. Instead of shoving her way through like I would, Keila does a little side-to-side step move that we have all deemed the Keila dance. There also is an accompaniment of quiet “I’m sorry”s as she entangles you into an awkward tango amongst the blenders and brewers. It’s quite the sight and I love it every time it happens.
Above all else, Keila Ben is the kind of funny where you aren’t laughing at her, you’re laughing with her because she knows when to laugh as well. Because when I drop a frappuccino or try to decipher the squiggles that are supposed to represent a Japanese name on a drink cup, I know Keila Ben is laughing with me, not at me, as well.

LEIGHTON KUWAYE: master of sarcasm
Mr. K/Leigh-TON as I commonly call him is a man who I have many sarcastic lessons to learn from. He’s a seasoned veteran who is fortunate to work at Starbucks for “fun” (whatever that’s supposed to mean). On the surface, Mr. Kuwaye is a mild-mannered barista who moonlights as a second-grade teacher at a local elementary school. He is extremely nice to customers, possibly to even out my end of the bitter stick, and even nicer to newbie baristas and borrowed partners alike. But like Jekyll to Hyde, Mr. Kuwaye can turn into Mr. K at any moment, a quick-witted asshole with a bottomless pit of jokes and quips to leave you speechless (coming from me, this is said with the utmost respect).
Take the simplest sentence said at almost any given hour of a Starbucks workday…

Me: Can I get another vanilla syrup please?
Mr. K: I don’t know.. Can you?

Me: Leighton, can I get a rag please?
Mr. K: I don’t have any rags, I can get you a bar towel though…

They seem simple enough, but when said in the context of a completely normal and boring Tuesday night, it’s really quite an icey-cold slap to the face. But instead of being offensive, it’s refreshing. It breaks the routine and invites color back into our world of black, khaki, and green. Well, other colors anyway.
This is the guy who inspired the first blog! He’s the one who completely agrees that “Is this my drink” is the most irritating and retarded question on the planet! And yet he can put on a straight face, not change an octave in his tone, and guide their monkey minds to the right drinks out on the counter. Now that is a master.

To comment on my other coworkers would be a shame for other posts so I will leave my anecdotes to this.
At the end of it all, the rest of you must understand that when you walk into a Starbucks, you’re walking into a pseudo-home of deranged, dysfunctional, and delightful mix of people who all consider themselves part of the green apron family. Take off your shoes, respect the rules, and don’t fuck with my family. Or I will fuck with you.
Thank you and come visit us again real soon.

The Register.

The register is in every possible service industry in society. People encounter it everyday from supermarkets to gas stations. Yet I don’t understand why some people just don’t understand register etiquette.

1. Do you see a pole?

Do not throw your money at me. Male customers love to do this. I think it reminds them of another establishment of addiction that they can’t stay away from. Well throwing your ten dollar bill is not going to get you extra whip cream, just saying.
Every time it happens, I feel like throwing the change back at them. Would you like to pick up a dollar and seven cents off the floor? Doesn’t seem so attractive now, does it? It’s not masculine or macho in any way. It’s annoying and degrading as a working woman in the service industry.
My hand will be outstretched and ready for your method of payment. You wouldn’t throw your daughter’s allowance money across the kitchen table so why do it in public to a college girl trying to work her way through school.
And just on a side note, I don’t appreciate cash or cards being thrust in my face either. The computer takes a while to catch up to the tender screen. Give me just a couple of seconds to take your money. Don’t worry, I won’t let you walk away without paying. That would destroy the whole purpose of me standing there in front of the register.

2.. Feeding your addiction, be it caffeine or sugar, is not considered charity.

If men throw money, women wait until the very last second to dig through their bags to get their wallets. The look of shock as I ask them to pay for their skinny vanilla lattes is always priceless. What, did you think Starbucks runs on the hopes and dreams of poor college students?
And there’s always an excuse..

Customer: Oh sorry, I just haven’t had my coffee today…

Really? Because I see your shopping bags so you must be familiar with the concept of money being exchanged for services and goods. Especially if you stood in the line for longer than a minute, you had the time to stand and wonder just exactly how you were going to pay for your drink.
Please ladies, you’re holding up my line and my own caffeine-hungry patience.

3. No, I don’t feel like playing 93-cent-pickup.

I understand that you want to give me exact change. Change is annoying to carry. It’s also annoying to pick it all up from the counter when you could’ve just handed it to me right then and there. If you need to count it out, go ahead. But why do I have to pick up all your dirty pennies one by one when I have a line out the door?
(And my fingernails are always short because of the nature of my job. I really hate digging into the counter when my open palm was out to begin with.)
Sometimes, I purposely move a little to the side so it seems like I don’t see the change sitting on the counter. Then the customers pick it up themselves thinking that I don’t know that they already “gave” me the money. It works about 75% of the time. As they pick up every coin they’ve already dropped, I can only hope they feel the same irritation I do and walk away with a lesson learned.

4. Samples.

Every once in a while, we’ll sample out some pastries and frappuccinos to entice you to spend the extra five dollars. What amazes me is when people ask me if these tiny handouts are free. Uh no? Please give me fifty cents for the dollop of caramel frappuccino laid out in front of you? Let me calculate what this little corner of a cranberry orange scone is going to cost you…
Look, everybody loves freebies. No need to hide or mask your greed with idiot questions like “are they free?” Especially if you’ve seen five other people grab at them with their own free will.

5. Move along.

Ladies, I know we carry our lives in our handbags. But the register is not the place to rearrange your wallet and find your phone and check if you remembered to bring your chapstick and… yeah. Throw your wallet in your bag and move along, there are customers waiting. The counter is not your personal vanity stand.
I really hate myself for hating this but old people are the worst. They act as though the whole world needs to slow down for them. I will patiently wait an extra 30 seconds for the elderly but do not glare at me when I ask the people behind you what they would like to order. We are an extremely high volume store and my superiors would like to keep it that way.
There are the special few who stare at me expecting me to pull a frappuccino from my big black magic hat. Well folks, the bar is down the way. Your drink will be where every other drink is being called out, the lobby, and we’ve gone over this already.

6. Speak up.

There is a lot of things that go on behind the counter at Starbucks. Frappuccino blenders are whirring, coffee and tea timers are going off, baristas are yelling out drinks… So whispering to me is not going to get you anywhere. If you’re really that timid and shy about speaking in public, I suggest you find a help group and resolve your problems there. Until then, you’re just holding up my line with your pip-squeak attempts.

7. Eyes up here.

In our technologically advanced society today, we are given the privilege to stay connected to our social group at all hours of the day. Heed the word “privilege.” I will rip that phone from your hands and stick it underneath the hot water tap if you haven’t decided on your order because facebook just sent you a notification.
Phone calls are not an exception. They are even a bigger nuisance. I don’t feel like fighting for your attention when you have chosen to take part in my service to you. If you need to take a call, take a step back and let the apparently less important people than you pay for their drinks. At the very least, put the person on hold, PUT THE PHONE DOWN, and give me your full attention. We don’t take phone orders so why would I want to wait while you ask your soccer team if they would like a drink as you are conveniently at the register at Starbucks. Tough luck they’re not getting a caramel frappuccino. It just wasn’t in their calorie karma to have that extra sugar today. Moving on.
I just want the customer focused so that I can get the drink order right. That way, you don’t have to cause a commotion when you pick up your drink and realize it’s not sugar-free vanilla in your latte. Nine times out of ten, you probably forgot to mention it. Once the cup is written, the wheels are in motion and it’s difficult to catch a mistake as the drink line is being pushed out. Best to get it right from the very beginning. Eye contact is key in relaying information, mine are up here.

The register is the first place you will be greeted by a barista. Whether you will be happily engaged in conversation because you have obliged to all the register rules or belittled into a retarded, under-developed lump of a human being is entirely up to you. I wasn’t always a Bitter Betty. I’m not always Pissy Polly. But I can be. The choice is yours.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.