Taking it out on a Bean Bag

I've been following service industry blogs since the blogging phenomenon exploded into a blogosphere of epic proportions. WaiterRant, BarmaidBlog, and even a NYC escort girl, that I eventually lost track of.

But it wasn't until I joined Starbucks that I did some searching and stumbled upon BaristaBrat. The longer I was at Starbucks, the more I noticed universal trends that happen in Starbucks outlets across the yuppie-filled regions of the world.

Crazy stories of people coming up with devious schemes to get free refills (thank God not many people know about this. I think it only applied to morning COW during my time), behind-the-bar stories, and irrational customers who think they're entitled to 5 star service because they are paying a premium price for coffee.

I think the rational of the 'I'm paying a high price for this coffee/beverage and your salary, so you should GET ME WHAT I WANT RIGHT NOW' deserves to be smooshed into their pretentious Venti COW which they end up sharing between 2 people or more because they're too cheap to buy 2 cups of coffee.

When Rachel asked me 'what was the worst experience I had in Starbucks' during Winter CFWM class, I thought of a few.

Difficulty getting drinks right during my first few days of training? Nah, Su was riding my ass, but I eventually picked it up after a couple of days and was quite the killer on the cold beverages, if I do say so myself.

The boredom in Pearl Point outlet? PP was a totally different environment alright, with more than its fair share of Cina-pek uncles who camp out at the lobby with his COW (at least he always bought one) for hours, and occasional nasty Middle Eastern tourists who, on the upside, spent loads of cash on everything.

But none beat that one crazy-busy afternoon in MV when I lashed out.

That one crazy-busy afternoon when I was stationed at the Point-Of-Sale (POS/register) and the afternoon crowd line was snaking out the cafe doors. An Indian middle-aged man with a beer belly and cross-eyes comes up to me. He's holding a Venti COW and points to one of the small round tables at the corner of the store, near the merchandise display racks.

"Miss, can you please clean my table?"

I pause momentarily while handling cash from a customer, marking cups, and shouting orders.
"Er, sure, of course sir. I'll just.." and gestured at the line of customers, but he's already walking away, and sits at the table.

I go back to juggling the swarm of customers, and I call out for a clean up for the man's table, but every other single barista is busy running their own post.

Less than a minute later, the man comes back up to me (me why me, there are 2 registers!) and is obviously miffed that I didn't attend to his beck and call immediately.

"Miss! My table! I-"

"Yes sir, I know, JUST A MINUTE" I stiff-smile at him while giving him a pop-eyed look as I'm juggling the register, orders, making fresh COW because we've just run out, and running the food area. The bar is now running full steam, orders being flung out left right centre, and the espresso machines going full throttle.Again I call out for the clean up, because the new #1 rule for the POS post is that YOU DON'T LEAVE YOUR STATION. EVER. New fangled station rulings from the HQ.

The last straw hits when he comes back up and the moment I make eye contact with him, he lets loose.

"MISS! I've asked you to clean my table already! Why you think you can ignore me is it?! I work for The Sun, you know! I know your boss, I'm going to write a complaint then you get fired, and then you don't blame me! What is this, I paid for my coffee already! I'm going to write about this, who do you think you are?!"

I am stunned at this outburst and when he pulls out his press pass I literally feel my jaw go slack. Not from awe that this man works at a newspaper, but because his abuse of the power of the press was just amazingly... stupid. At this point I am left speechless because I have also never personally encountered an outburst from such an irrational and obnoxious person.

Somewhere in between his tirade, I can hear Vishnu, who was manning the espresso machine next to me, step in and defend me.

"Sir. Please try to understand, we're running a really busy bar here-"
"NO, you wait! I'm going to write a complaint letter! You clean my table!"

"FIne." My eyes popping out and gritting my teeth, I abandon my POS and grab the nearest blue cloth for cleaning tables. I go to his table. I wipe the little puddle of water off his table. And I walk off without looking at him again.

As soon as the line trickled down, I headed straight to the Back of House and grabbed the nearest 5 pound bean bag and deal a couple hard punches to it, before running back out to the register. Come to think of it I don't think I was the only barista who dealt out abuse to the coffee beans when you can't really direct that frustration to the customer in the first place.

ahhhh anger management tools of the trade :)


AJ said...

Hey hey hey!!!! :D That guy sure sounds terrible! Good thing you had your friend stand up for you too..:)

How are you??? It's been ages..:)

Yuenny said...

Ann June! i'm great, how have you been? add me on facebook! ;D