Monday, July 02, 2012

One bad barista can really ruin your day

The boys and I ran an errand to Sweetwater Sound for the church this afternoon. We were thinking of stopping at Zesto, but the desire for soft-serve was trumped by the need for more caffeine.

We stopped at the Starbucks out at the Village of Coventry, in our old part of town, for the first time in months. We went to the register, ordered, and happily paid the price for two iced double tall one-pump caramel macchiatos and a grande mocha coconut frappucino and stepped to the end to wait for our drinks.

I noticed that the young barista who was making drinks was really surly as she slid a venti shaken no-sweetener passion tea across the counter. And, as she plunked a venti shaken five-pump raspberry passion tea down, I thought that maybe she just didn't like passion teas. But she made our first drink--which I told Jonathan to take--slamming down a pitcher that she bumped as she moved toward the counter.

I watched her make my drink, seeing--from frequent experience--that she hadn't allowed for the double shot in my drink. Before she put the lid on I asked, "Could you please give me a dome lid so that that doesn't leak out?" She looked at me with a look that said, "You are stupid and annoying," and said, "It won't leak," as she put the lid on, causing it to leak out the hole in the top and down the side. I just looked at her, and she said, "It's only leaking a little bit," with another sneer. I told her that it was too messy for me in a white cotton shirt and she threw a fit, throwing my lid into the sink putting new caramel on--because it all stuck to the discarded lid--and handing the sticky cup back to me with a scowl.

Then we waited. And waited. And waited. We waited 12 minutes for Andrew's frappucino while almost everyone who came in after us was served. I finished most of my drink. Several times she looked at us and ignored us. Finally the guy who came in five minutes behind us realized she wasn't paying attention to the waiting frappucino orders and asked her about it. She told him they were working as fast as they could. (They weren't very busy.) Then she made his frappucino.

Finally, she made Andrew's. As she handed it across I couldn't help letting the snarkiness out. I'm sorry. I said, "Only 12 minutes for a frappucino and service with a smile." She started yelling at us. As we left, her coworkers were still trying to get her under control.

I have nearly endless patience with bad service. I've done too much time in food service and retail to be impatient. I'm fine with slowness, ineptitude, being in the weeds, less than on-the-ball people, etc. What I can't stand is bad attitude. I was perfectly nice when I asked for a dome lid. I smiled. It wasn't an unreasonable request. Half the time, if the barista can see that they've filled the cup too full, they'll just do it. If they don't notice and I do they are more than happy to give me a dome lid. More than once I've had them offer to remake my drink when it leaked out. I always say no and wipe it off.

But standing there with my sons, either of whom would love her job, and knowing how many great teens we know who can't find one, her nasty attitude really got to me. And the boys. Afterward the subject just wasn't going away. They couldn't figure out how someone who had a job that they can't even get an interview for could have such a lack of concern about customer service. It really bothered them.

Jonathan mentioned that part of what you pay for when you go to Starbucks is the experience. The atmosphere. The friendly baristas.

So, no. Our day wasn't really ruined, but it did cast a shadow. Since I always have a goal when I leave the house of making someone that I don't know smile, the whole thing left me feeling rather bummed. I knew that I shouldn't have let her get to me, but there was something about the petulant, snotty attitude that really pushed my buttons.

So we'll stick to our usual Starbucks from now on.