Friday, October 25, 2013

The Calling of a Barista

 I must take a moment to deviate from all things stepmom in order to discuss a topic that has irked me so much that blogging about it seems to be my civic duty. Presently, many of us know what's understood on the street: Don't tick someone off who's preparing your food. If a waiter or waitress does their job and does it well, leave a tip (even if they don't do so well still leave a tip; perhaps just reduce the percentage), and do not treat others in ways that you would not want to be treated, relatively speaking.

Okay, we've got the basics covered.

So, here's 5 things to try and avoid when interacting with a barista (and trust me, these things happen quite often).

1. "You can't be tired. You work in a coffeehouse."

Seriously! This is the equivalent of telling a doctor that he or she cannot be sick...just because they're a doctor. Influenza doesn't know that "John Smith, PhD" is a doctor, and the flu will infect all who get in its way. The same can be said for FATIGUE. I am a wife, stepmom, and a writer and oftentimes I am ragged and sleep-deprived when I arrive at work because my life is filled with roles and responsibilities that surpass the bounds of an urn filled with lava-hot-energy-liquid! Lastly, (everyone say it with me) there are times when a person experiences a level of fatigue that no amount of coffee or caffeine can counteract. I NEED A NAP!!!

2. Dearest Patron, please do not "ssshush" me at the drive-thru window because you decided to conduct an important conference call in your car...RIGHT WHEN YOU DECIDED TO GO THROUGH A DRIVE-THRU! Repeat after me: The function of a drive-thru is to enable and promote fast and efficient service wherein my barista MUST clarify my order and relay to me how much I owe so as to complete the supply & demand transaction. The barista is doing his or her job to greet me and "try" to give me the items I ordered. I, on the other hand, am being a complete jerk-face when I "ssshush" them and hold my finger up in their face. I solemnly swear I shall do no such thing from this day forth.

3. "I have a Grande Caramel Latte on the bar!"
    "Oh, is that my drink?"
    "Possibly, what was your order?"
    "I had a Tall Soy Chai Latte over ice."
    "Well, this Hot (not iced) Grande (not tall)
    beverage IS NOT YOURS!!!"

This is the first part of the exchange and there is already a problem. When a barista calls a beverage at the hand-off-plane it is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to know what it is that you ordered. (I don't know what you ordered or what it was that Bobbi Sue told you that she wanted when she discovered that you were making a "coffee-run.")

   "Well, where is MY drink? I have been waiting for a minute."


eeeeerrrrwaaaaeeeerrccck, (this is the sound--according to me--for REWIND!) Sir/Ma'am did you not see the long line, so long it's snaking around the entire coffee shop and parking lot before you walked in? And after you walked in you stood in that long, snakey line until you placed your order. And if you can dig deep into your short-term memory, there were about TEN people in line in front of you, which means that when you step to me inquiring about your latte, and the people who ordered in front of you are still waiting on their drink(s), yours isn't done yet.


I know that it's October, and everyone is doing their "get your scare on" thing. The AMC television station is playing a host of Halloween-appropriate fare, and the new season of The Walking Dead just began (I'm excited). I love scary movies, but I do not love ZOMBIE CUSTOMERS!

"Well, when we come into the coffeehouse we're tired. We're there to try and wake up!" I cannot dispute you here, patron. Actually, many baristas acknowledge this aspect of our business. Yet there is a difference between being tired and crowding in with other ZOMBIE CUSTOMERS, as you all close in on the bar area, fail to respond to friendly greetings and inquiries, and bore into my soul with your hollow, blink-less stares. It's scary. It's uncomfortable. Instead of thinking about "Brainzzz" you all are thinking about espresso "Beanzzz," and barista is compelled to stab you through the eye with the steam defense, of course!!!

Take it from me, when you arrive pick up a newspaper and read it. Or talk to some of the other customers you might know. Look at your cellphone. Talk to me for goodness' sake, because Lord knows I'd love to actually talk to you (I am NOT being sarcastic) as opposed to you glaring at me for 5 minutes. Glaring at barista does not make barista move faster. Barista is already moving fast as humanly possible; we're just busy.
Zombie silhouette courtesy of, free Zombie clip art
5. "Uggggh! I cannot believe what YOU just made me do!"

"Ma'am, here's your Tall 180 degree White Mocha...have a niceeeee, ummm, ohhh...are you okay?" As the lady is pulling the drink into her car (in the drive-thru), she manages to smash the cup against the side of her car. (This happens because she is trying to finish a text message while simultaneously trying to secure her beverage). Liquid explodes from the cup turning hot, frothy milk into a geyser of steamy shame. Then she glares at me with the quintessential, "Look at what YOU made me do!" face.


I'm sorry. Reader, I am being insensitive. I should feel bad for this lady; her coffee drink was really hot.

Ummm, NO.

If customer is so preoccupied with his/her phone, gadget, device, conference call or--heck--is that deficient in hand-eye coordination that the retrieval of product from the drive-thru window is an impossibility, then don't come through the drive-thru!

Congratulations! You have just completed the, "How to become a better Customer (and better participant in society)" training series.
Thoughts, comments, or questions--please respond to this post if even one small talking point resonated with you.
Press On, all my customer service workers, Press ON!