Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What I Learned in my Three Months as a Starbucks Barista.

Tomorrow I work my last shift as a Starbucks barista ("As of this moment...I will never....serve coffee...again!" keeps running through my head. My ability to find a Friends quote for every occasion is like a sickness, really.), exactly three months after I started in November. I always wondered what it was like to work at Starbucks in my pre-barista days, so here's the 411, as the kids say:
  • People will spend $6 a day on ONE coffee drink. Every. Day. I know, I wonder what they do for a living, too. (Maybe you knew this because you are one of those people. WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A LIVING!?)
  • There is no such thing as too much of a good thing when it comes to Starbucks drinks. In three months of multiple drinks a day, I didn't get sick of them.
  • I can wake up at 4:20 am multiple times a week and actually enjoy being on the road before the rest of the world is out of bed. (I also quite enjoy being done before noon. Holla!)
  • People are crazy, crazy, CRAZY. 
  • Crazy.
  • What do I mean? Asking for a quarter of a Splenda packet in their two-and-a-half shots latte steamed to 165 degrees. Oh, and can you double cup that and put a splash stick in the top? 
  • Or, I'm going to yell at you/roll my eyes/treat you like dirt because you're a lowly barista/my drink has some foam/I'm a grumpy person.
  • The crazies were the minority, thankfully, and about 80% of our customers were fabulous. I absolutely adored getting to see them everyday.  I could go on and on about the sweet, kind, hilarious, and wonderful folks I encountered through working at Starbucks.
  • Sometimes I think people like to come up with 12 different modifiers just to feel special. Seriously.
  • About 60% of our customers were regulars. As in, they came almost daily. I truly thought I had a Starbucks problem, but then I met the rest of the world. And the rest of the world? They like their Starbucks.
  • Working the drive-through was a fantastic opportunity for a voyeur like myself. I'm such a people watcher, and getting to peer into cars was such fun. (And some cases of real-life hoarders, you guys. I mean, really.)
  • Bottom line: the customers were the best part and the worst part.
  • Actually, scratch that. My coworkers were the best part. I've never had so much fun at a job before, ever. We laughed, we gossiped, we whispered, we snarked, we told stories, and we laughed some more. I really, truly will miss them. I cannot imagine having more fun at a job. I'm already sad thinking about leaving them. Le sigh.
  • Not to mention the endless supply of apple fritters, veggie frittata breakfast sandwiches, and more espresso drinks than I can count.
  • Personally, I've never worked for minimum wage, save for two months in college, so it was a humbling and frustrating experience. I honestly don't know how people do it for years as adults.
  • Raspberry is actually delicious in iced passion tea and hot chocolate. 
  • Recycling is more talk than action at the store level - we threw away hundreds of recyclable milk jugs, syrup, and apple juice bottles every week and it absolutely KILLED me. I briefly considered secretly bringing them somewhere to recycle but figured it'd get a bit messy. And hard to hide.
  • Starbucks offers 'great benefits,' but many baristas can't actually afford to pay the premiums, even though they are quite low. Yay, minimum wage (or, okay, a smidge higher than)!
  • Tipping is awesome, awesome, AWESOME. In my previous life, I never contributed to the tip jar at coffee shops. I just couldn't afford to, since I was already spending a pretty penny to get my drink. But when you're making minimum wage, getting 20 extra bucks a week goes a long way is so very appreciated.
  • Busy. Fast-paced. WOAH. Yep.
Annnnd, that's what it's like to be a barista! (In my store in my city in my state, anyway.) I wouldn't mind doing it again someday - it's fun and the drinks are yummy, but I also won't miss waking up at 4:20 am and dealing with the crazies. 

Onward and upward! Tomorrow I meet with the president of the school I'll be working at. Who told me, "Don't wear your interview suit. This is very casual. Wear jeans and a hoodie. Minus ten points if you don't!" :) Booyah.
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