Not Ruining the Simple Pleasures

When I see that people have crappy jobs, I try to be OK and empathetic towards them screwing around with people. Like, I imagine that it sucks to have stand on your feet and make coffee for six hours. I understand that it’s horrible to clean toilets, drive a bus, be a bingo caller, etc. I get it, and I feel like jobs like those come with a certain amount of permission to be a dick to people. Two weeks ago, my manfriend and I were a bit inebriated at the Culver City Starbucks and we really wanted something super caffeinated.

We stood there staring at the menu trying to come up with the perfect combination of chocolate and caffeine. And understandably a weighty decision like that takes time. We were a bit slow, probably annoying, and we definitely held up the line of one other person for a solid minute. We decided to go with a skinny mocha (Los Angeles) with an extra shot of espresso, we got the drink and left, only to discover they made us a really gross green colored drink that tasted like soap. My first thought was that “this is disgusting” and my second was “I could totally understand why they did that to us, but I want my $4 back.” I am probably never going back to that Starbucks, but I get it.

On a higher level, being messed with by some jerks at Starbucks isn’t a big deal at all. But being a dick and being a horrible person are totally different things. Guys, I am pretty sure this mexican restaurant in West LA sits its few black customers at the table under the giant painting of a watermelon. I have picture evidence.

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52 thoughts on “Not Ruining the Simple Pleasures

  1. That sucks big time. Especially when it happens to someone like you, who has empathy for people who hate their jobs/are unhappy. I’m not a big fan of starbucks anyway, local is always best. XOXO

  2. “Guys, I am pretty sure the West LA Acapulco sits its few black customers at the table under the giant painting of a watermelon. I have picture evidence.”

    That’s a trip. I’d like for them to just try to do something that ignorant with me if I’m ever in that neck of the woods.

    I treat people in service jobs with as much respect as possible, but some of them make it so hard. But when I get good customer service from one, I make sure to take note of their name so if I ever have to give a review or feedback, I can say “Jeannie gave me service with a smile and was very quick in getting my coffee to me.” The good ones don’t hear enough that they’re doing well.

  3. Agree with Baily. Used to own an espresso bar -and work my little white tuchus off 12 hours plus a day. Hmmm says something about my choice of employees come to think about it,
    Have sympathy for the working stiff as well.
    What’s with the Acapulco. Are you serious? Well you must be.

    Will watch the baristas more carefully if I find myself utterly desperate and have that jones for more caffeine

    Fun post.. but if it’s not St Patrick’s Day I’m eschewing a green drink… of anything.

  4. There are days when I’ve been on my feet for six hours, serving coffee, bagels, and pastries, stressed beyond all limits and I’ll admit to having fantasized about making a rude woman’s non-fat quad shot into a decaf with steamed half-and-half. But I don’t. Because food and drink is sacred to me, and I know when I walk into an establishment I expect to get what I order. I’m trusting that person to make it right, and safely. You don’t know my allergies (never mind that I personally do not have any) and could possibly hospitalize me if something is wrong.

    Of course, working has taught me to be especially understanding to people with crappy jobs and their irritation at complicated orders/difficult customers. But it’s one thing to let irritation show on your face with a really long order, or misspell the customer’s name to something super wonky looking, or to say something nice in such a bitingly sarcastic tone that there’s no mistaking you’re not okay with the shite going down. But fixing a drink to be disgusting… I don’t care what the customer did or how crappy your day’s going; to me, that’s an unforgivable offense. And like I said, I know how working up to eight hours as a barista feels.

    Sometimes it is really hard to stand there and be nice when you have five minutes left until you get to leave for the day and the person/persons you’re helping can’t make up their bloody minds. But I eat lunch at my cafe every single day so I know the menu front to back and I still have trouble deciding. “Do to others…” is the only thing that keeps me smiling sometimes. And I think if other people took that as their mantra, we’d have a lot more kindness (and smiling and non-disgusting drinks) in the world. 😉

  5. Any job that is not pursuant to your dream will suck. Your dream job will suck but the paychex will be so large, you will not care.

    • I don’t know, I have friends with jobs they hate as nannies, delivery drivers, waiters, etc. that allow them to pursue their dreams of writing/acting, so I guess they can just be a means to allow people to pursue their dreams

      • Agreed. A lot of people are willing to approach their work week as a tool for living their real life and consider it a fair trade.

      • I got a job for the sole purpose of making traveling funds while I write in my free time, and I honestly love it so much it’s become a dream job. Few hours or many, it’s always win-win, because I either have more time to write, or more time at work–AND a bigger paycheck. 😉

  6. Across the Atlantic, my go-to coffee place is Costa Coffee.

    Reason: An overconfident Starbucks chappie who retorted, ‘So what! We are Starbucks!’ to a feedback from me on the generally lower quality of their coffee v/s Costa’s.

    I bid them a permanent goodbye.

  7. Hey Girl: You walked away with MY drink! That was my custom green goliath goop — it took me months to have Starbucks put it on the menu and get it just right. And I ended up with some freakin’ sickly sweet choco-hypercaffeine-thing and I haven’t slept in days….

    Maybe next time, instead of blaming the employee, you’ll be a bit less intoxicated, and you’ll take the right drink from the counter!

  8. That is awful, even if you were being bad… I think people should be nice when they are working! I used to get in trouble for being nice to people when I worked in a library (because people would stay longer)… and I never figured that one out.

  9. First, that was funny as hell. Not that you were treated badly, I worked in hospitality management for years, and you just don’t do that to your customers, no matter how obnoxious they are. Keep writing funny stuff.

  10. Ashley, sorry to read about your experience at Starbucks. I’ve experienced something similar–not the green drink–but the non verbal language of exasperation when I take just a tad too long to order. And when I say a tad, that means more than thirty seconds after the perky barista says, “Welcome to Starbucks! May I take your order?” It’s the reason I’ve stopped going. That and the outrageous prices. Really, it’s not like their coffee’s that good!

  11. Good thing you didn’t have to take more time to decide which baked goody you want with your drink or else you might have been served Folgers and Hershey’s in cold water, with a suspicious bubbly wad floating inside. Seriously, they can’t mess your drink up just because you take a minute to order. This isn’t New Jersey, you know.

  12. Last time I went to Starbucks I ordered a cinnamon roll and the 30-year-old girl corrected me by repeating “you want a MORNING Roll? Like there was no way she could hand me a cinnamon roll until she cleared that up. It seems like about half of their employees are like this. They are Starbucks suck up Nazis while the other half are fine.

  13. Speaking of Starbucks made me think of Weird Al Yankovic’s song, “Craiglist” on his “Alpocalypse” album. He writes an open letter to the “Snotty Barista” at The Coffee Bean on San Vicente blvd. Al says, “I know there were twenty people behind me in line, but I was on a cell phone call with my mother. Didn’t you see me hold up my index finger? That means, I’ll order my soy decaf hazelnut latte in just a couple minutes. So what’s with the attitude lady? No tip for you!”

  14. While you are totally right about people with shit jobs sometimes being dicks, they are nothing compared to the unbelievable treatment unemployed people receive from Human Services. Human Services personnel are much worse than Post Office personnel, they seem to think that because you are in need of public funds, you are necessarily a scumbag. I realize that dealing with the homeless is no picnic, but unemployed people deserve respect too. Unlike what that uberDick Hermann Cain said, we do not deserve our fate. As for that restaurant, unfortunately some of the worst prejudice I have ever encountered has been from Asians. They complain about being treated badly themselves and then they do the same to non-Asians.

  15. Ooops! I just realized you were talking about a Mexican Restaurant. Well, I suspect the same thing applies to them. You would think that those who are victims of prejudice would understand and not do the same thing themselves, but no such luck

  16. Funny post…glad that you understand the crap that a lot of service industry folks have to put up with…still doesn’t excuse the soapy green drink from starbucks…yuck!

  17. My husband and I once went to a restaurant in Frankfort Kentucky where we were seated on one side of a partition where there was hardly any lighting, and the customers were all either underdressed or black. On the other side (we were underdressed, so we were on the dark side) we couldn’t find a single nonwhite face. And the black people on our side of the screen were dressed to the nines, completely unaware of what was going on.

  18. yeah – you don’t have to be over the top cheerful but if you work with the public – you have to be patient – and green coffee or mystery drink, is never cool. I just posted about an opposite experience recently at a coffee house and a breakfast diner – so we have both extremes. I don’t know that people who work in the food service industry know how much their attitude can make a difference. Small things – you know? For good or ill.’
    Here is the post if you care to take a peek: http://www.theemptynestmom.com/2012/02/20/what-will-you-look-like-in-10-years/

  19. Ugh- to be given not only a badly made but a completely opposite drink from what you ordered is absolutely inexcusable. I highly doubt that you were breathing drunk-stink right into their face for the time that you took to order… and a “solid minute” in a Starbucks is by no means a long amount of time, especially when it’s two people ordering. It takes me more than a minute to spit out MY fairly complicated orders, and I’m sure that I’m nowhere near the most picky.

    However, I WOULD recommend avoiding that Starbucks in the future, because even if they DON’T give you that kind of lousy service again, they could very well remember you as “those picky drunk losers” and still give YOU highly specialized, lousy service for the “indignation of foisting your pickiness on them.”

  20. I was wondering if you might help me out…El Guapo and Edward Hotspur gave me quite a bad time the other day, and I thought it might be fun if some of us bloggers who frequently see their sites would mention “conspiracy” or some form of the word in any comment we make on their blog tomorrow. The idea is to get them thinking that it is weird that so many people are talking about conspiracies…but we should still be subtle enough that they won’t figure out there really is a conspiracy to quickly.

  21. Wow. That is some really s**tty service. Even if people with under-appreciated and lower end jobs can’t stand their job and have at least some reason to grovel, they should still be glad they have a piece of job in times like this where plenty people would LOVE to have one! They should also be the best they can be @ any job. Like they say, if u are a street sweeper, be the best street sweeper. Pride. And no…there is no excuse for crappy service and this incl. crappy Starbucks drinks.
    And that watermelon thing is retarded. What a–hole would do that? Racism (even though subtle these days) is still alive… shame.

  22. This reminds me of an article I saw at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110810093754.htm that contained this:

    According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, customers and hospitality workers engage in a game of status that plays out in their everyday encounters.

    “These service interactions are a performance, much like a theatrical one where each party has its roles to play,” the authors write. “But the scripts are not neutral; rather, they reflect the customers’ desire to reenact their class-based dominance over their hairdressers.” However, service workers are not powerless in these situations: “On the contrary, the game that is being played is what we call an interdependent status game, where customers are as much dependent on the service providers as service providers are on customers….”

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