A barista’s life for me

Andrew Bennett

For the past two years, I have worked as a barista, first for Starbucks, and now for Barnes and Noble. I love my job, really I do. But some days, it seems that my customers just want to make things really difficult. Perhaps they just had a bad day, and the easiest way to take out their stress after work is on a barista. At any rate, the population of difficult customers has increased exponentially since New Year’s.

I don’t really have any explanation for it, other than the economy. The souring market we are in at the moment is having a profound effect on the moods of my regulars. It’s worse than the news of Starbucks getting into the instant coffee market, which has “FAIL” written all over it. Here’s the link if you want to check it out: http://tinyurl.com/alvdr6.

On Tuesday, during a particularly busy evening rush, there was a customer who had the audacity to ask why her particular drink was taking longer than another. Well, excuse me for not having the ability to steam your soy milk, along with non-fat and two percent milk at the exact same time. I’m moving as fast as I can to have your Grande-decaf-two-pump-soy-no-whip-white-mocha ready for when your kid is done with soccer practice. Telling me that you are running late and I need to have your drink done already isn’t going to help; it’s just going to anger everyone in front of you. Leaving more time would be a sufficient way to solve the problem.

It’s not all just about being rude to me, either. Counting out exact change in pennies when there are five people in line behind you is just as inconsiderate to those behind you as it is to me. Is it really going to make that big of a difference to the amount of change in your purse? I didn’t think so, but apparently my customers do. Some are much worse than others, but I’ll leave it at that.

What I’m getting at is that people don’t even realize how rude they can be sometimes, and I think that if they really knew perhaps their etiquette would improve. This really isn’t a difficult concept at all. If I had to guess, I would say that a second-grader has better manners than many adults. Baristas are people too, you know; all I’m asking for is a little bit of courtesy.

Ahh, I feel much better now that I’ve said what I needed to.

Alas, not every person is terrible. For every difficult customer I encounter there are my wonderful regulars. It starts with Franny, usually around 6 p.m. with her double-shot, and ends with Ben, at 10:30 p.m. with his seven-pump-no-water-no-foam-chai-tea-latte. But in between, there’s Bill, James, Mrs. Kim, Mrs. Lieberman, Carolyn, Vince, Joe, and countless others who make my day in the simplest ways.

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