Thursday, June 11, 2009

Am I The Pretentious One?

Today multiple customers pushed my buttons, (although that is typical on any nine hour shift). Most of them had to do with acting like I was ripping them off because of our prices.

Do customers honestly think I randomly generate those prices on the menu? I can see wanting to talk about the economy and lightly joking that all your money goes to starbucks but that was not the case today.

Today it was as if I was begging people to spend their hard earned money on what they deemed was not even worth it.


"I cant believe you charge seven dollars for two cups of coffee that are not even that good"

well actually its seven dollars for sugary espresso concoctions. Which anyone can tell you milk costs a lot, thus milk + espresso is more expensive than a cup of coffee which will cost you 2.04 in DC.

And while I have not been to McDonalds lately, I am guessing ours is not much more than theirs.

"I just want a small cup of coffee, small... whatever YOU call it. small coffee and im not paying fivebucks for it... haha get it fivebucks starbucks?"

Im not stupid. I know tall means small. And really I love feeling patronized with the heightened emphasis on "whatever YOU call it." Please make me feel inferior before I help you, oh deserving customer.


Most of my interactions with the pretentious customers who made it seem like I am pretentious fell into one of the above two categories.

I wish I could say one of these things to them. But instead I bite my tongue and smile, why? my manager was watching, otherwise I was in a mood where I would have said "well you didnt get a cup of coffee you got a cup of sugar and milk" to the first customer. and "wow ive never heard that one before" to the second customer.

I swear my eye was twitching the entire shift.


Helpful pieces of advice....

  1. retail employees do not make the prices. its just stupid to think so.
  2. complaining about prices to retail employees does not solve anything. if you are pressed to have a meanful conversation, talk about the weather.
  3. if you cant afford starbucks coffee then DONT buy it! or better yet MAKE IT AT HOME!!!

A lot of people may disagree with my opinions because well if we all had that attitude we probably would halve our customer base. But it is true! If you are trying to be frugal why would you spend 15$ a day getting the same venti white mocha three times a day? I cant feel sympathy for you when you do that!!!!

(mostly because when my mother told me she would not give me money for my starbucks addiction when I was fifteen I got a job at starbucks to pay for it. and now four years later, after monthly payments of college tuition, the cabel bill, and rent I still have enough money to set aside for my addiction).


p.s. readers, my grandmother may be reading this site very soon when she figures out how to "download" it onto her computer, so I am going to make an effort to curse less, as it offends her eyes.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Guest Post: Java Jane's Encounter with Crazy Mocha Lady

First Guest Post!!! So excited, although not about Java Jane's encounter with a crazy customer. Although it is pretty safe to say anyone who has worked a day in retail has a crazy story to tell.

Java Jane writes...


This took place about 6 years ago when I first started with the company and it still haunts me today.

At the time I was working drive thru and a $45,000/wk store. It was a cold busy december morning. I was the DTR person. Customer pulls up to the window.

We should call her C for crazy mocha Lady.
I will be J for Java Jane

J-Good morning, how are you today?

C does not respond which is typical

J-Alrighty I see that you ordered a venti extra hot mocha, that is $3.75

C-Make sure it's extra hot

J-No problem ( I then holler over to the bar partner to make sure it's extra hot)
I hand her her drink, here ya go, one venti extra hot mocha, do you need any napkins or anything?

C-No this is fine. Thanks

J-No problem. You have a great day and I will see you tomorrow

C then pulls forward just enough for the car behind her to pull to the window. I am able to greet the customer and then all of a sudden something comes flying at me and hits the wall next to me. I look and it's C standing at the window leaning on the ledge outside the window


J-I'm sorry it wasn't hot enough for you. But could you please tone your voice down or I will have to go get my manager


I dutifully go get her and she deals with her, remakes her drink and asks her to never come back again.

~Java Jane


I can totally relate Java Jane, extra-hot customers can be so picky some want their drink to be heated to specifically 215 degrees! Personally after suffering many burns I will not heat milk past 180, which on our lovely mastrena machine is automatic when you press extra hot.

I have had PLENTY of customers argue with me over this and I either do one of two things.

1. lie and say it is whatever degree they want their burnt milk to be (I know this is the easy way out but some people dont understand it is not safe for milk to be over 180)

2. lie and say I dont know how to do that on this machine (again another easy way out!!!)

This is one thing I stick to my guns on, and it is one thing I tell every barista I train, dont bother putting your safety on the line, the scars and blisters are not worth it! I would rather deal with twenty angry customers then fill out an incident report and have someone in pain.


Monday, June 8, 2009

a reason people quit

Well I am a certified learning coach... I have been for three years and I have lost count of how many partners I have trained since last year my store was the trainee mecca. Every new partner in the district came to my store to be trained by me.

Since the economy has put us in "a time of uncertainty" as Howard Shultz likes to say there have been no new hires really since well last summer. But today I oiled those rusty training gears and got back into coach mode to train a girl who goes to my school, majors in one of my minors and is the same age as me... only a few months older.

I am the youngest person in my store, as a side note. And yet I feel like I am the mother bear when it comes to certain things because well i'm the shift and ill be damned if i let anyone talk disrespectfully to my coworkers.

Today was N's first say on the bar. Lets call her N, for newbie (lame abbreviations, I know ill work on being clever). So after she finished the book work we started touring the bar. I showed her where we pour the beans, how to adjust the grind, how to taste the shots, how to calibrate the thermometers, how to empty the drawer with used espresso pucks, etc etc.

Just as the grand tour of where everything is... I was about to show her how to steam milk when a customer walked in and ordered a latte. perfect. so the milk wouldn't be wasted at least.

And this is what went down.

I = impatient bitch
N = newbie barista girl
V = val, in learning coach mode


So she has already placed her order at the register. mind you she did not wait in a line. so by starbucks standards i have 3 minutes to give her a drink. this drink will take one minute to make.

5 seconds to grab cup and mark
20 seconds to pull shot
20-30 seconds to steam milk
5 seconds to put on a lid and hand it off

now most of the time when the shot is pouring (we call it pulling), and steaming is done at the same time. so I can make this drink in 30-45 seconds actually. But it will take an extra 15, and you will see why.

V = ok N what is our first step?

N = I take the cup and mark it.

V = right and what is the marking

N = (5 second pause) L right?

V = yes but put that iced cup back and get a hot cup, if they dont say iced its automatically our default for hot. although in hot weather sometimes they forget. and sometimes we forget. *smiles*

(my style is to coach as someone who has been there, which all coaching styles should be, some coaches act like know it alls, like the girl who was supposed to coach me but didnt because she said i should know everything already since it was all covered in the book, those coaches should not be coaches since being behind the bar is a totally different experience than looking at a book with the answers in it)

N = ok and now I pull the shot

V = well first lets start steaming the milk.


V = ok we pour the milk up to here because that is 16oz for the grande cup. And this is how we steam, pull the lever down and this is how we aerate the mik (makes foam) ok now you hold the pitcher and aerate it a bit.

N = (goes around me to do that)

V = and now when we notice the thermometer is around 100 degrees i would press the button to pull the shot. and we press the double shot button because grandes get two.

N = Ok.. and...

I = (interrupting) how long is this going to take?

V = no longer than it usually does. Im just training her.

I = great so I am the guinnea pig

V = I assure you this will be one of the best lattes you have ever had ma'am N your barista here is doing an excellent job making some nice velvety foam to top your latte off with.

I = yes but she is taking a long time to steam the milk.

V = uh maam it takes the same amount of time to steam milk, it does not matter on the person.

I = whatever.

V = (turning to V) ok well now you are going to hold the foam back with this spoon and pour. and then put just a scoopful of foam on top.

N = (does that)

V = ok now call it out as a grande latte, thank the customer and say have a nice day.

N = (does that)

I = (rolls her eyes and takes her drink)

As she leaves the store explain to N

V = keep your expectations low with customers. assume they will never say have a nice day back to you, or smile, or anything actually. even if you try talking to them to strike up conversation. This way when you assume the worst, its actually uplifting to you when you have a genuine person come in here ask about our days as well after we ask about theirs. we do have customers like that.


I hope that lady noticed the sarcasm in my voice when I told N to thank her and tell her to have a nice day. because yes we are supposed to do that but if you are being bitchy you dont deserve that. Its not like I was gossiping with the new girl telling her about all the store drama. I was showing her how to make a latte as WE made the latte together.

And the audacity of that woman to say she is a guinnea pig? and make N feel inferior by suggesting she takes longer to steam milk or she is holding me back from making a better latte.

This is why some people quit after they have completed the book work, because they see how shitty customers can be. How they can make us feel inferior.

And I dont blame them, I would quit too, but the paycheck is nice as a shift supervisor, with the perks of free coffee.

xoxo val

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Line: Yeah it is Pretty Much a BIG Deal

I was shopping today after work and had an encounter I had with a woman at payless shoe store reminded me of an old story.

There was one woman being rung up. A woman standing by the jewelry section four feet away from the register. And me standing three feet behind the woman being rung up. As said woman being rung up picks up her bag and leaves, I do what society expects when you are standing in line... I move up to pay for my shoes.... but it was not that simple...

Apparently the woman looking at jewelry was there first! because she decided the line should move in that direction (a direction which blocks one of the two entrances to the store). The way I was standing is how the line normally goes, because it does not block any entrances, that and I had about five people behind me so I guess they followed my version of the line rather than hers.

Anyway she practically pushes my shoes aside off the counter saying she was first. And me, still in polite mode from my eight hour shift lets this bitch walk all over me. I ACTUALLY APOLOGIZED and said "Im sorry ma'am I did not know you were in line since you were looking at jewelry."

And she succinctly ended the conversation with "WELL I WAS FIRST."

How charming.

Little did she know the register worker and I had a nice time talking about her as she left and I snapped out of my polite mode. Turns out the register worker had previously worked at starbucks too but left it because it was too stressful.

Maybe I should work at payless... nah just kidding.

Anyways... On to the story about the very angry man.


It was an hour until the store closed... so the pace was really slow. Since it was slow I took the opportunity to leave the bar partner alone out front while I quickly ran into the back to do some dishes. As I am doing dishes I keep an eye on the moniter that displays what all of our cameras up front see. When I turn around I notice two people waiting, so I run back up front.

and this is what went down.

M = a man
AM = an angry man
B = bar partner
V = yours truely


V = (I walk up to my register and whisper) hey B, did you get their drinks?

B = yup I got both of them.

V = (at this point I assumed they were together since they were standing two feet apart, side by side, not one in front of the other like you normally do in you know a line). Ok what were you gentleman having today?

M = I had x y and z. (I dont remember what he had)

V = ok and what was he having?

M = oh we are not together.

V = oh ok! Your total comes out to be x.xx sir.

(money have a nice night etc etc etc, meanwhile AM is stewing over in the corner now by the newspapers, giving dirty glares to me and M)

V = Hi sir, can I help you with something?

AM = well I guess now ill pay for my drink (sarcastic tone that of course I can pick up on because I am the queen of sarcasm)

V = um ok.... and what did you order today?

AM = tall latte.

V = ok that will be x.xx

AM = (as he is fishing out his dollars and change, his sarcasm and shaking of the head led him to spit out this comment) Just so you know. I was first.

V = (taken aback... if you were first why didnt you say so, why did you let someone else walk ahead of you?) Im sorry sir I did not know that, I assumed when that man stepped forward that you were either ordering together or that he was first.

AM = (slams exact change and dollard on counter) YEAH WELL I WAS FIRST.

V = again... sorry sir...

AM = (gives me a look that makes me feel like im a disgrace for not being psychic)


Um... yeah.... Seriously?

I remember after he walked out the door B started laughing... and I... was just at a loss for words.

Look forward to hearing what you have to say readers!!!
Comment away!!!


Friday, June 5, 2009


I know how convenient it is to have exact change so you can get dollars back instead of a handful of coins. But if you do not have exact change... why would you put your fucking hand into the tip jar to take... no no make that STEAL a penny, a dime, a quarter.

This really bugs me.
It is a HUGE pet peeve.
It also says a lot about how shitty said person is.

You may ask why I think such people are fucking SHIT. Well this is so because that money belongs to me and my coworkers, not said shitty people who can afford to buy starbucks coffee.

Why does that money matter more to us than them? Because some of my coworkers have kids to feed and need transportation money. While I personally dont have any children, i rely on my tips to reload my bus fare card to get me to and from work every day. If my tips go down, I have to start taking money out of my paycheck to pay for the bus, and that does not make me happy.

And you know... I am not completely cruel. I can understand mistaking the tip jar for a take a penny leave a penny cube (since we are not allowed to write TIPS on the cube), but when you see a cube stuffed with dollars and quarters you know DAMN WELL that is not a take a penny leave a penny situation.

And if you are soooo strapped for exact change because change bothers you so fucking much, I would rather have my drawer short four cents.... fifty-five cents... rather than you STEALING from well... ME.

So this is what went down to prompt this angry post.

V = moi
S = stealing customer


( so yadda yadda yadda transaction went lovely, said persons total came to something like 10.09)

V = ok sir your total is 10.09

S = (hands me a ten and then does the find the exact change dance) uh..... uh..... wait i have it here somewhere.... nah I only have quarters. (reaches hand in a jar full of dollars to get out a dime)

V = uh... sir dont touch that those are me and my coworkers tips.

S = (stares at me like I have ten heads) You cant spare a dime from your tips?

V = actually, no we cant, because if I do it for you I have to do it for everyone, and this happens multiple times a day. but I will give you a dime from my wallet if that would help.

S = (smug look, like a 16 year old boy that got laid) yeah that would.



and mind you this is a professional state department worker, not that it matters so much but I can expect teens pulling this crap or whatever but not grown "men."


Thursday, June 4, 2009

To Refill or Not to Refill: Story Two

Sorry darlings, it has been a while since I have posted. I just got over a nasty sinus infection and frankly spent most of my time high off pseudophedrine HCL. Boy that stuff makes you loopy.

A quick refill story.

This man comes in probably 5x a day with an iced venti cup and he wants an iced coffee refill with 30 pumps of classic syrup in it. He has a registered starbucks card, which means his refills are free.

Lately I have been thinking about the math. If he gets five free refills he is screwing my store out of approximately 15$ a day. 15 x 5 workdays a week = 75$ a week. = 300$ a month.

You get my point.

The refill policy explicitly states ONE refill. not unlimited refills.

and this is what went down.

RS = man with the ridiculously sweet iced coffee
V = me
R = register partner


V = hey R, when that guy asks for a refill tell him he can only get one refill a day, that is the policy, so he needs to pay full price. (i had already given him two since my shift started at 12pm, and who knows if that was yesterdays cup).

(few minutes pass as the line goes down, and sure enough he asks for a refill)

RS = refill, and (points to me) tell her to make it sweeter than she did last time.

V = (since I didnt like his tone I decided to step in) im sorry sir you will not get the refill price on this one, because you have already had two free ones today with your card and the policy is only one.

RS = but i come here every day

(his face was priceless, like DONT YOU KNOW WHO I AM? I COME HERE EVERYDAY... yes i know who you are... that does not mean you are exempt from policies)

V = I understand sir, and I have already given you two refills today, by not following the policy my store looses money.

RS = WELL FORGET IT THEN! (storms out)


well thank goodness. because now i didnt have to count 40 pumps of classic into his iced coffee. But I bet he complains. They always do... because policy? why do we bother following those?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

To Refill or Not to Refill: Story One

This is the official starbucks refill policy:
Customer must have original cup/ personal cup. Drink must have been purchased within 60 minutes. AND the drink must have been consumed in store. This holds true for coffee, iced coffee, and iced teas.

Only not many people are aware of our refill policy because of the other starbucks.

Granted most of the time I dont argue with people because it is simply not worth it, and most customers I know are regulars come in like 4 or 5 times a day so whatever, want a refill I wont argue. Does this effect our sales? yes. But just say yes right?

I dont feel like saying yes all the time. This incident happened at work yesterday (surprisingly today was so pleasant I have NOTHING to gossip about).

So yesterday this man comes in with a cup asking for a refill. I am not on register, I am floating, helping grab pastries, double barring when there are too many drinks, and getting hot coffees and teas.

And this is what went down.

SC = soggy cup man
V = yours truly

Now let me explain what a "soggy cup" is. Our regular hot cups are able to be refilled like 3x before they start getting soggy, and a dark mark around the lining on the inside. So obviously I am guessing this man has abused the refill policy a few too many times, especially with his sense of entitlement tone.


V = hello how are you?

SC = Refill.

V = ok sir one refill coming right up, (but as i take the cup i feel the well... soggyness.) Um... sir... did you purchase this cup of coffee here today?

SC = no. *slams briefcase on counter* I got it at the other starbucks.

V = ok sir well i cant give you a refill on this then youre going to have to pay the full price and you can get a cup discount.

SC = but at the other starbucks....

V =*cuts him off... i know im rude but i didnt have time for this* sir this is a corporate policy, they were doing you a favor at the other starbucks.

SC = *looks like he might want to strangle me but doesnt* FINE, BUT GIVE ME A FRESH CUP NOW.

V = Yes sir!


Im soooo sick of people abusing this policy. Because it really adds up, just because someone may know you at the other starbucks and let you use your cup 10x to get refills for free with your registered starbucks card does not mean you can expect that at every store.

This is what I hate SO MUCH about the other starbucks. THEY RUIN CONSISTENCY!

Even though I dont follow the policy, because we have a lot of office people I let them know hey if you come back ill give you the refill on me even though you are supposed to be in the store.

Because hey I can be nice like that, but at least they know then THIS IS NOT WHAT I SHOULD EXPECT this is a TREAT.


I was talking about this encounter with another one of the shift managers at the store and she went on about how her second customer of the day (she is an opener, I am a closer) came in and demanded a refill and shes like dude... ive only been open 5 minutes and you were not here! and the guy gave her a hard time... BECAUSE OF THE OTHER STARBUCKS.

twelve hour shift tomorrow. Im sure an amazing story will come out of that!


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Just Plain Stupid?

Ahh readers whilst on a cleaning frenzy at Starbucks I have encountered yet anther.... wtf? customer... and im not sure whether to say they are slow... or just plain stupid.

Like the girl yesterday who asked if ICED teas were cold... this woman asked me an equally stupid question as I was cleaning the walls by the condiment bar (because you know customers can make coffee splash as high as the ceiling when adding milk and sugar. Im not sure how but they do).

Anyways I had just brought out some fresh carafes of milk (you know those silver thermos things). Which said slow/stupid lady saw.

Mind you when I bring it out the screw tops on the top are well screwed on because I dont want milk everywhere, also whenever someone is cleaning the lobby they have to make sure they are securely closed because that preserves the temperature.

Milk above 41 degrees. Not yummy!

So as I put the carafes out this is what went down...

SS = Slow/stupid?

V = val, slightly high off the cleaning fumes


SS = (picks up the carafe I just put down and proceedes to try to pour milk into her iced coffee only she cant because well it is closed) Uh you put an empty one out here. (yes there was attitude and snark in her voice)

V = (using the kill with kindness voice, also the voice you use to talk to three year olds) Thats because you have to open it ma'am like it says on the top... see it says turn.

SS = WELL THEY SHOULD MAKE IT MORE VISIBLE. (storms out leaving a mess of 17 sugar packets... yes i counted them)


more visible... how is it not visible. it clearly says turn with an aarrow pointing left (you know just in case some people didnt learn "lefty loosy righty tighty")

Also... how can you think it is empty. Those full carafes easily weigh like.... I dont know whatever half a gallon weighs like.

Sigh... sorry readers but I think part of my brain leaked onto the floor as a result of the conversation.

I always knew this job would lead me to lower my IQ, not because its retail... but because of the customers that make you go WTF?!?!?!?!?!??!?!!?!?


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Oh Teenagers...

This will be a quickie as I am about to get ready to go to my internship.

So yesterday was a nice quiet yet steady day at Starbucks, great for meeting our budget and great for my sanity, until a teenage girl came in with a group of her friends wanting frapuccinos. Which is fine i'm used to these rushes, and since it was a calm day I was up for making 7 different kinds in a timely manner.

What I was not ready for was this:

G: Bleach Blond Valley Girl (im sorry I hate to stereotype but it was like she was out of the old school Beverly Hills 90210 ditzy Donna Martin)

V: me of course

And this is what went down...


V= (after taking 7 frappuccino orders)... Hi miss can I get something started for you?

G= um........... um........ like... are the iced teas cold?

Now readers, you need to understand I was trying so hard not to bang my head against the wall because ICED is a key word in there and while technically there are "no stupid questions" im going to revoke her privileges on this.

V= (looks at menu to make sure it said iced teas before I answered in the sweetest voice possible) Yes sweetie thats why they are called ICED teas.

G= Oh ok I was just making sure you know?


no i totally DO NOT KNOW. how do you order an iced tea and expect something other than a cold beverage. I wish I could say this girl was doing it as a joke but I believe firmly she was just that ditzy because her friends laughed at her and I almost felt bad.

But hey maybe she was doing it to get the attention from the two teenage boys... who seemed to think her question was adorable. Playing dumb to get attention for boys = me not feeling so bad for her.

Well she was a pleasant customer, stupidity aside. And she personally came back up to thank me for making such a delicious iced passion tea lemonade.

You know... that cold, ICED drink we offer clearly labeled as such on the menu.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Drive Thru Etiquette

A year and a half ago I wrote an article for Associated Content Entitled:

Six Starbucks Drive-Thru Etiquette Tips

As you will see in the introduction I wrote this article days after quitting. (I came crawling back three weeks later, for the free caffeine and the customers and people I work with that I love).

My favorite part about this article is the REACTION. Sixteen people posted comments, most called me whiners. One said that by decafing someones drink I could cause a miscarriage. Not quite sure what med school he went to!

Just thought you guys might find this interesting as I gather my thoughts for my next post.

First day back to work and I get called a racist.

Well it is official Val’s little vacation is over, so it is back to work and back to dealing with the customers I love and the customers I love to hate so so much.

A general rule is that the crazies always appear within the first hour of my shift, because they have a secret sixth sense that knows their craziness is going to ruin the other seven hours of my shift if they appear in the first. (this is of course what seems to happen most often, crazies appear at any time but the ones that come within an hour of me being at work seem to stick in my head for a long long time.)

Said crazy man lets call him H (for hispanic, because he was hispanic and told me I am racist to his people). So H came in, acting like a normal customer, the kind that does not say anything but the drink they want. No Hi or Hello when I greet H just the drink order. Whatever most customers do this so the pissed off part of my brain does not even care anymore.

H orders an iced venti extra sweet black tea lemonade. Cool. As I am making it, in the shaking container we use to well… shake the teas he yells AND MAKE SURE YOU SHAKE IT. And I let this slide… the yelling which was totally unnecessary because I was not even done making your drink. But part of me understands, a lot of starbucks’ take short cuts and do not shake their iced teas which really impacts the flavor and temperature of the drink.

Anyway I hand H his drink say thank you and have a nice day and he grabs it out of my hand and storms off.

Well this is a regular customer interaction sadly… rudeness, yelling etc etc… but what made this very interesting was when he came back.

H = Hispanic man
V = ‘racist’ valerie verona?!?!?!

And this is what went down…

H = I want another one (I hold out my hand for the cup and he puts it on the counter leaving my empty hand oh so lonely)

V = (being as I was the only one on the floor, my other barista was washing dishes, I made the drink and then I proceed to ring him up) Sir your total is $3.10.

H = what? No you are wrong THIS IS REFILL I PAY FIFTY FIVE CENTS!

V = Im sorry sir but our refill policy only covers regular iced teas not iced tea lemonades because the lemonade is expensive.


V = Sir, im very sorry you feel this way, but the fifty five cent refill policy is only given when someone orders a regular plain iced tea, not with lemonade. That is the policy. If you paid fifty five cents in the past, at the other starbucks someone was doing you a favor… but 3.10 is the correct price… you gave me your cup so the only discount I can give you is .10 cents for bringing the cup back.


V = (takes the 3.10 from him) ok just give me a second and I will get you my store managers card. (does that).


V = That would be me sir.

H = (exiting, still screaming) I WILL BE BACK.


Meanwhile… there is another shift in the store, the one who is handing over the store to me and another barista who were saying I just should have given him the refill price… but this is why I refuse.

I dont appreciate being SCREAMED at
When I try explaining the correct pricing, dont tell me how I am 100% wrong. I happen to know the refill policy very well, I have been working for this company for four years.
I dont appreciate being called ‘racist’

So the store phone rings and the other shift answers it. (On my store managers business card it has the store phone number), the other shift told him to come back and he would get a free drink coupon.

30 minutes elapse, other shift has left, I am pissed because I dont think he should get one but whatever. Im tired of dealing with people who think they know how pricing works and im an incompetent retail servant. A racist one as well apparently. And in walks H.


V = No, but I will give you a free drink coupon so that your next drink will be on us. (I hate to say it but the sarcasm was clear in my voice, I had had it with this guy).


V = Sir I am not wrong, but I will give you back your money. Here is your 3.10


V = I cant do that thats not the price of the drink you ordered. So just take your money and I am going to have to ask you to leave the store because you are making me feel uncomfortable with all of this screaming.


V = ?

5 minutes later….

H = (comes back throwing whole foods sandwiches on counter) SEE I BUY WHOLE FOODS NOW BECAUSE TWO YEARS AGO I LIKE STARBUCKS SANDWICHES AND NOW I DONT.

V = Ok sir, im going to ask you one more time to stop screaming. Im sorry you are no longer satisfied with our sandwiches but that has nothing to do with me charging you 3.10 for your tea lemonade.


V = Our policy is for regular teas, no lemonade. If you want a regular black iced tea, no matter who your are, race, gender, class it does not matter you get charged the same exact price.


V = sir the other starbucks was charging you incorrectly.

H = FORGET IT YOU ARE RACIST WHITE GIRL (throws 55 cents on counter and storms out…. Finally… hopefully to never return again).


Cute huh? Thank you “the other starbucks” for not following the correct refill policy and causing this crazy man to go off on me about how I am racist because I want him to pay the price everyone who comes into my store pays for iced tea LEMONADES.

I also had to bite my tongue so bad to not scream at this man about racism. Because my grandmother has worked her whole life as a domestic servant because of NINA (no irish need apply) sure that was decades ago, but it still effected her life up to a year ago when she retired. Also my Italian grandfather and French grandmother have told me stories about how when they came here it was difficult, people refused to help anyone who did not speak english. And while I dont mean to go on a rant about racism because it is rampant… you have no idea a persons personal history. You have no right to call someone racist unless they are blatantly being racist. My charging you is capitalism. Not racism.

(although one can argue they are intertwined but that was something I worked on last semester in school, nothing do to with a 3.10$ black tea lemonade)


Saturday, May 23, 2009

the customer is NOT always right: part quatre

The last story sparked a memory, some people might wonder why I have two police phone numbers on speed dial on my phone. #2 is my university police department, #3 is metropolitan police.

But how did it get this way?

Was it the crazy homeless man that wants to kill me that caused this to occur? Nope it was a man that was convinced I was trying to cheat him out of twenty cents that led him to threaten me and my store.

It was all because of a brownie. Yes readers, A BROWNIE.

And this is what went down.


L = lunatic
B = bean (on register, also the girl I close most often with)
V = Valerie, having a smooth day until L spewed threats.


B = (comes over and talks to me as Im making three drinks), Hey V, um… this guy says I am ripping him off and now he is refusing to pay but he already started eating the brownie… he wants to talk to you.

V = (looks over to L in the corner, muttering to himself.) Sir I will be right with you I just need to finish these lattes ok? It will take me thirty seconds. (Finishes up drinks and I walk over to L).
Ok sir what can I help you with today.

L = Well I am not paying for this because she (points to B) is ripping me off and that is illegal.

V = Im sorry sir I dont quite understand, can you explain this to me a little more?

L = I bring in two dollars, I see brownie says 1.75 so with tax that is supposed to be 1.93. Am I right?

V = Of course that is 10% sales tax on 1.75 so (does math) you are correct.

L = Well she (points again) says it is 1.95 and that the total is 2.15. So Im not going to pay she is ripping me off.

V = Ok well I am going to see what is going on with the computer, because you see we just hit a button, and sometimes they increase prices and they dont tell us and we dont realize because we dont check the signs every day… they are supposed to send us new signs when they increase prices. (checks computer) Ok sir it is ringing up as 1.95 but I am going to give you a .20 discount so you pay the price as advertised. So that will be 1.93 please.

L = (reluctantly gives me money and points at me, literally three inches away from my face) you know what you are doing is illegal I could sue this whole store and get you shut down and you would be fired and homeless.

V = Sir you are paying for the price you see so that is not illegal, and now that I know the sign is wrong I am going to turn that 1.75 into a 1.95 this way this confusion does not happen again.


V = *totally taken aback by this craziness* sir are you threatening me?


V = you know what thats ok, ill go call them now for you so they can escort you off the premises and you will have to fill out some paperwork.


V = ok they will be here soon.


So I call my university police department. As a student working at a starbucks on campus they respond very fast especially with threats. Ahh at least my tuition money is going somewhere (well technically my scholarship money cause I only pay for housing… but whatever). They arrive literally in a minute. (they are two blocks away haha)

When they get here they L turns into a perfect gentleman… saying hello how are you officer I am L and I am such and such and a starbucks coffee company shareholder. The police officer looks at me and Im like yeah this is the guy that caused a scene and threatened me and my store. And the cop goes all bad ass on him.

Cop = Man you cant go threatening to get people fired and saying youll shut the store down. THAT is illegal. She gave you the price you saw, which is more than I would do I would have thrown you out. Now come over with me. You are going to fill out some paperwork that bars you from this starbucks and the school campus. We take threats against our students very seriously so do not come back.


Lesson: just because you are a shareholder does not make you can fire me or shut a store down. I fixed the mistake when it was brought to my attention, your freak out was uncalled for.

I couldnt help but smirk at this guy as I walked back into the store. The smirk had a clear victory aura to it. I know I am a horrible person. But hey, no one deserves to be threatened.


After the cop dealt with L he came inside for a coffee, and he told me Val, (yes we are on first name basis because I have had him escort other people out before) I think you need to put our number on speed dial.

And from that day forward. #2 and #3 on my cell is especially reserved for law enforcement. Because we have that special of a relationship.


Up Next: a break from the why the customer is wrong theme and on to the homeless man and ex partner who want me dead. Those are fun ones!

AND THEN BACK TO THE CUSTOMER IS WRONG THEME: how valerie was called a racist bitch by a customer because i did not give him his drink for free.

Friday, May 22, 2009

the customer is NOT always right: part trois

This is an old story I found in one of my journals the other day and it was just TOO good to not share with you.

Exactly a year ago we had our vivanno nourishing blend promotion. While I am adamant about Starbucks Coffee Company being a COFFEE company, I was all for the platform because the drinks were healthy, and a meal in and of itself.

Side-note: the graphic designer for that promotional design must have been on acid as s/he designed this campaign. It was so ridiculous… we had window clings and they looked like my drawings from the fourth grade. In fact one of the window clings, a man doing a karate kick was to be removed because it was deemed “inappropriate.”

That was just a side note. In addition to the design sucking, corporate decided to give registered starbucks card members a free vivanno as a promotional treat. And that was cool. Only, it would have been nice if they send us the memo first before the registered members came in demanding free vivannos because they said they got an email about it.

Well that was all news to me. Two days later corporate decided to pass on the message to us. Thank you corporate. But it is your fault I had to deal with this crazy… well I wont call him a complete crazy, he was at the time. But a week later he actually came back and apologized to me, which was sweet.

So this is the back story: GI Joe (im sorry I have to call him that because he looked like the figurine) came in on Wednesday and ordered three vivannos thinking he would get them all for free because he is a registered starbucks card holder and the vague email said something to that effect I guess. Although I was not there on Wednesday he gave me the story of what happened, the register partner refused to give him the free drinks and thus he had to pay for the three vivannos, he was also five minutes late to his business meeting (the cherry on top of his story I guess).

SO this is what went down Saturday afternoon, when I get in I check the portal memo about the miscommunication… and I was totally apprehensive that some crazy was going to yell about this because WE SHOULD HAVE KNOWN even though there was no way for us to know. And knowing my luck it would be on my shift.


B= register partner, ive been calling her bean lately because she has not given me another alias for her.
GIJ= very annoyed GI Joe
V= valerie, interrupted while on a cleaning spree


B = (interrupts me while scrubbing the bathroom) Val, there is some angry guy out front demanding to be refunded for three drinks and also he wants a free drink made from him now, and he is scaring me.

V = (since ‘scary’ people are a common occurance at my store I run into the back room to grab my cell phone because the police are on speed dial and they know me very very well before I start my encounter with this man). Hi sir how may I help you today?

GIJ = you have to refund me for these drinks and I want a free vivanno right now.

V = ok sir can I see your receipt please? And can you tell me why you need to be refunded, were you dissatisfied with the way the beverages tasted?

GIJ = No I was not *dissatisfied* (he mocked my very polite voice, way to piss off the lady you are trying to get free shit from). I was ANGRY that NO ONE WOULD GIVE ME MY DRINKS FOR FREE WHEN STARBUCKS SAID I COULD HAVE THEM FREE BECAUSE I AM A REGISTERED STARBUCKS CARD HOLDER (shows off his starbucks card like I have never seen one before).

V = (im still being polite and friendly even though this guy is an obvious ass) Ohhhh ok sir I understand, there was this big miscommunication, yourself and other card holders received this email but starbucks never let us know that we were supposed to do this, even my manager didnt know….


V = ok sir, there is no need to get angry, im going to refund you for one of your beverages as that is what the email you received specified.


V = sir I can refund you and you can buy yourself a drink with that money or I can make you a drink and not refund you. Im willing to give you the one beverage you were supposed to get for free.


V = (at this point I had had it). You know sir. Enough with the cursing. I will not be refunding you today and you will not be getting a free beverage. You can come back tomorrow when my manager is here, but while I am here running this store you are going to have to leave because I do not appreciate how you are talking to me and I am starting to feel threatened.


V = (gets out cell phone) are you going to leave or do I have to call the cops?

GIJ = (leaves)


About a week later he comes back and when I see him I go do a lobby slide because I refuse to make this man a drink after the way I was treated so I let B handle him on her own. I know he never called my manager to complain, which shocked me, but what shocked me next was he came over to me as I was cleaning up spilled sugar and said…

GIJ = Miss… I am so sorry I treated you like that the other day… My son had just got in a car accident and was in the hospital… I would never talk to a lady like that and I am just so sorry…

V = apology accepted, I understand we all have bad days, and you know you are the first person that has ever apologized… so thank you because you made my day.


As he leaves and I go back behind the counter I notice a 20 in the tip jar. I ask B where that came from and she said that crazy man. I let her know, he was crazy that time, but he said sorry. And in my book.. Yes ill be your verbal punching bag for a day because we all have bad days…. But that man set a precedent.



Tuesday, May 19, 2009

the customer is NOT always right: part deux

Ahh the DC cherry blossom festival. It's famous, tons of tourists, TONS of business (which was wonderful for our store to meet budget). Only you would think it was a full moon the night before because the customers were CRAZY.

DC Cherry Blossom Festival: Incident One.

Three customers, daughter was bilingual and was translating for her mother and grandmother. They all wanted vanilla frappuccino's (according to the little girl). and this is what went down.

LG: Little Girl
AM: Angry Mom
G: grandma
V: me!

V: sweetie did you want yours to have coffee in it or did you want it without coffee so its more like a vanilla milkshake?

LG: ohhh yeah like that I dont like coffee!

V: but your mom and grandma, they still want the coffee right?

LG: yeah they like coffee.

V: ok sweetie that is going to be x.xx

LG: (tells her mom in spanish and hands me the money with a smile)


this girl is a cutie! she was so sweet and well mannered. Her mother on the other hand must have been in an extremely bad mood. because she grabbed the money out of my hand and did not mutter a thank you or anything. also she grabbed her daughters wrist and YANKED her across the room to be by the hand off plane. Now i dont want to get involved in parents and their form of parenting but I think that violence was a little uncalled for, but obviously an unfortunate side effect from her mothers pissy mood

I make the drinks as my other partner is sweeping under the counters for me, my back was killing me that day (cramps haha)


V: oooook one vanilla bean for you sweetie! And two cafe vanilla frappuccinos for you ladies so you can get a caffeine kick! (mind you I was perky while saying this, with a smile, even though I didnt want to be nice to this lady, but I like killing people with kindness.) Thank you ladies you enjoy your day and the parade. Its wonderful weather for it this weekend!

LG: THANK YOUUUUU! (goes over to the condiment bar to add vanilla powder, sugar... you know the things kids love)


V: you mean your daughters ma'am?


V: because yours is made with coffee... did you not want coffee in yours? your little girl said she would rather have one without coffee so hers is a vanilla bean and yours is a cafe vanilla. it still uses the same vanilla bean powder, only difference is your drink is made with a base that has coffee in it.

AM: *another eye roll and insistance on raising voice at me like i am incompetent* YES I UNDERSTAND THAT BUT WHY DOESNT MINE LOOK LIKE HERS?

V: (at this point i am confused) because yours has coffee in it so it turns brown and hers is white because it does not have coffee in it...? ma'am im not understanding what the problem is?


V: well what is making them look different aside from the color?



G the grandma is slurping up her beverage like liquid crack. so no complaints form her thank goodness!

also at this point her daughter is still jazzing up her drink by the condiment bar so I do a slide and go over to clean up the little mess she made.

V: sweetie did your mom want the same thing you wanted.

LG: no she is just in a bad mood and she doesnt like americans. sorry.

V: thank you dear. would you like a cookie?

LG: yeah!

yeah yeah i know its "illegal" to give out freebies but this 6 or 7 year old at least justified that I was not out of my mind.


a half hour later AM returns storming in and almost hitting an elderly couple that was on their way out. no appologies to them of course because AM is entitled to use me as a punching bag. she must think it is in my job description...


V: because you argued with me for 10 minutes after your drink was made and you took it outside and it is now 30-45 minutes since you have been in this store, I assume you were outside in the heat. those circumstances will make the whipped cream go "flat" as we say because it is not fresh out of the chilled canister anymore.


V: ma'am I can give you some more whipped cream. and im going to give you more in a cup. take it outside and i assure you the same thing is going to happen.


V: well ma'am I have tried understanding your needs today and you have continued to scream and raise your voice at me which has made myself and the people I work with uncomfortable. not to even mention the people sitting in the store. I am going to give you my managers number. you can talk to her about what you think is my attitude problem, but I will also be telling her, and i have witnesses... that you called me stupid and raised your voice at me every time you talked to me. so if this is all, I am now going to ask you to leave my store.

AM: *taken aback but leaves quietly*


point of the story? people think retail employees are sooooo beneath them that even if they are having a bad day I can be your own personal verbal assault punching bad. I am sorry that is not in my job description. and it is in my job description to protect my store from hostile customers. the police department knows me very well (in large part because of the two threats against my life all starbucks related) so if they get a phone call from me. they respond FAST.

Lesson to learn: respet people in retail? because if you piss of the person in charge, they can have you barred from the store.

respect works both ways. I do not have to tolerate curse words, or anything derogatory said to myself or the people I work with on my shifts. And I dont care if that means loosing...

"the most loyal customer to starbucks, because without me you would not have a paycheck."

that is my favorite line, and while working that day a former barista (one who put out a hit on my life) came back with another one of my favorite lines that I have never spoken but think all the time.


This was in retaliation to another incident... which will be tomorrows topic!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I believe the customer is always right, except when they are wrong.

Starbucks has been my only retail job. I have been fortunate enough to stick with this company for four years, get a promotion and have my manager turn a blind eye when I partner beverage out some coffee when I am not working (yes this is 'stealing' but I really am a poor college student and hell this company has put me through a lot!!!)

Starbucks has also made me wish I took more than one psych class (which I took in community college while I was going to highschool so I had lots of credits to transfer, so it has been a while).

As my only commenter on this site (so far? *crosses fingers*) has said I offer "a small treatise on human nature through the lens of a Starbucks Barista!" I realize I never thought of it that way but a lot of what I have learned about human nature and the way we socialize has been through this job.

It has also led me to rebel the mantra of customer service, the whole customer is always right philosophy. Well I, Valerie Verona, would like to declare that I partially believe in that, except, sometimes the customer is just plain wrong.

I think starbucks knows about these customers, partially, and the way we are told to treat them is to "just say yes," which is pretty self explanatory. But call me jaded, I have seen this policy abused. There are times when you can just say yes but times when you cant.

example number one.

we have these drinks called vivannos. They are protein nourishing blends made with our own protein (whey) and fiber (chicorry root) powder. yadda yadda yadda. One lady comes in and this is what happened.

L = lady
V = me, the DC food and safety lisence holder for the store.

L = instead of putting your own powder in it can you use this instead *attempts to hand me a canister of goLEAN protein powder or something like that*

V = I am so sorry ma'am but I cannot take that from you, I can not put our powder in and can get you a spoon so you can mix it in yourself over by the condiment bar, but to put whatever you are handing me into our blenders is a health violation.

L = well so and so at the other starbucks did this yesderday and it is protein powder i dont understand why you cant blend it in for me. it wont taste the same if i stir it in.

V = ma'am i understand your frustration but that is an unknown substance to me, I trust you that it is goLEAN but I dont know if there is anything else in there that might cause an allergen issue and I dont want to be held accountable if you get sick or anything so I would feel more comfortable following starbucks policy. I appologize for this inconvenience.

L = (did I mention she was really angry by this point?) This is rediculous I want to speak to your manager.

V = My manager wont be in until tomorrow morning, would you still like me to make your orange mango vivanno without the protein powder?


V = ma'am I am the one in charge right now.


V = Ok, X will ring you up and ill have your drink up in a moment!

seriously? I am dumfounded by the way this lady expected me to break a health code for her. Yes I know it says goLEAN, but uh... it could have been crack and cyanide for all I know. Likelyhood of that happening, slim. But I still need to protect myself and my store from lawsuits, that is why there are safety standards.

I wont even go into the hand off interaction. because this lady ripped her drink out of my hand and her nail scratched the skin off my finger. It was pleasant.


example number two.

being in DC we have a lot of big shots coming into the store and a lot of big orders for coffee travlers and cambros (they hold a lot of coffee).

One man ordered 270$ worth of coffee for a meeting. (this is not uncommon).

and this is what went down.

$ = big bux
V = guess

$ = hi i was in here yesterday and I was charged tax on my purchase, but I am tax exempt and I need that 27$ back or my company will make me pay for it.

V = yeah I remember you I helped you carry out your order... did you tell the register partner you are tax exempt?

$ = no but I need you to refund it.

V = im sorry sir but... unless you tell us you are tax exempt you are charged tax... and thats not really something I can refund

$ = *the I am so above you attitude* well when you charge me the wrong price for something you have to fix it, and most companies will refund you when they charge the customer the wrong price.

V = sir its clear on your receipt that you were charged the correct price for your purchases. im sorry that you did not say you were tax exempt but there is nothing that I can do to give you back that money after the fact. Perhaps you can talk to someone in your department to handles the billing and they can petition the money from the government. because tax does not go to my stores profits.... it goes to the government.


V= sir there is no reason to raise your voice at me. but i am unable to help you after the fact, if you did not mention it at the time there is simply nothing I can do. You were charged correctly and you forgot to mention you were tax exempt. I know you are frustrated but what you are asking me to do is give you 27$ out of my stores profits and I cant do that if you were charged correctly.

$ = but i wasnt

V = sir... you said you forgot to mention you were tax exempt. given that statement I am looking at your receipt and i see nothing I can refund you for.

$ = well this is just rediculous now this has to come out of my pocket.

V = I can understand your frustration. if i were to give you that money it would come out of my stores pocket... im sure if you talk to someone who deals with the credit card billing they can fix this for you... this happened to another person I know in... (cut off)


turns out he never did speak to my manager, I guess he sucked it up and learned a 27$ lesson.


I know sometimes I may seem harsh. but I really am a nice person, not by choice by way of pharmacuticals (all legally prescribed). And I do try to give the best customer service, but some customers abuse this and I cant stand seeing it happen.

Just because I work in retail, I am not beneath you.

Just because I am serving you does not mean I have to tolerate disrespect.

Just because you think you can get shit for free does not mean you will.


UP NEXT: customer(s) who believe that without them I would not get my paycheck. all from the cherry blossom festival weekend of hell for valerie.

Friday, May 15, 2009

So weird not working...

I have not had this many days off in I dont know how long. I feel like a mother (or what I imagine a mother feels like)... filled with anxiety because im sure someone will mess up the organization I try to keep in my store... and the cleanliness... are the drains being cleaned? do they remember to sweep UNDER the counters?

ok val. breathe. this was a much needed break to celebrate my coming of legal drinking age!

Being back in my hometown, visiting my old two stores brings back a lot of memories. Confrontations with customers when I was younger... and not a supervisor so I cared less about the things I said to customers because I knew my supervisor and corporate would baby them and let them get away with what they were doing EVEN THOUGH IT IS WRONG.

My second store was in one of the richest suburban areas, a drive thru and soccer moms in their SUVs loved to try and pull one over on us all the time with stories about "the other starbucks."

"the other starbucks does not charge me for soymilk because they know i am lactose intolerant"

"the other starbucks doesnt charge me for a venti price because I only want one shot"

"the other starbucks doesnt make it like that"

"the other starbucks knows my drink why dont you?"

I can not even tell you how much I HATE the "other" starbucks. and everytime someone says those three dreadful words I am tempted to say which one? because I will make sure to call them and tell them they are not following the proper standards.

Part of the ironic beauty of starbucks is that you are supposed to have consistency with your beverage wherever you go. Prices in different states vary but if you are getting a venti drink with one shot of espresso you do not get charged for a tall because im still putting in the extra dairy which is $$$$$$$. If your other starbucks charges you differently they are doing it as a courtesy, it is NOT the standard.

I hated it so much when stores dont follow standards, and then I get people mad at me because I am charging them the price I am supposed to. WHen I was a barista here the customer would always want to speak to the manager, and thus won with a cautionary "we will do it for you just this once." Bullshit, they are going to pull this over everywhere and when you think about it the store looses money.

Now that I am a shift supervisor stuff like that does not fly in my DC store. I do ask who the other starbucks is because chances are I know the manager and I am sure they would love to know how their baristas are making their store loose money.

I understand pampering and delighting our frequent customers every once in a while, but it is important to say, hey this extra shot/soy milk/ syrup /upgrade in size is on me today. This way they dont expect it at other stores.

Most dont... but there are the few crazies... which I attract, who are certain I am wrong and they are right.


Better post tomorrow: the flaws with the "just say yes" theory and "the customer is always right" theory

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Minding My Own Business

As I said earlier I made the trek from DC to NY yesterday (actually technically today). At two am this morning I get to Penn Station, my train was scheduled to leave in an hour and I was seriously caffeine deprived.

I also looked like a hot mess.

My hair had that I have been working for nine hours with a hat on look, i smelled of steamed milk and there was crusted sticky chai concentrate on my arm. Not to mention the pile of drool that accumulated on my sweatshirt as I slept on the bus.

Starbucks in Penn Station? CHECK
Valerie having a chance of making it home awake? PROBABLE

So I had 4 ristretto shots of espresso over ice with a splash of soy and two raw sugars.

As I grab my beverage and place my luggage by a table sitting down to enjoy the only thing that will keep me awake a man approached me. He had a smile, and four rotting teeth. He was clearly homeless, making his rounds asking all the customers for $2 so he could get something to eat.

He was clutching his stomach as he approached me.

HM= Homeless man with 4 teeth
V= tired tired tired me

and this is how it went down...

HM= ya got'wo dollas ta spar miz?

V= sorry i dont have any cash on me...

HM= i dun'understan? ya sorry?

at this point im feeling generous.. so...

V= here. why dont we go up and get you a bagel or something, ill use my credit card

at this point HM flips.


and now i felt compelled to give him a history lesson.

V= you know, that word has been used for centuries to put your race down, what good does it do you to call me that.

and then he gave me this look that I can only describe as a teen looking at the SATs for the first time with no preperation...

HM= you confuzin me (walks to next customer to ask her)

this is the first of many homeless stories to tell....
-like the homeless man that wants to kill me
-and the one that thinks its christmas
-and the one that swears he invented scotch tape

intregued you with that last one didnt I?

time to crash
espresso kisses,

Monday, May 11, 2009

You Keep it Up Sweetie!

Ok guys. I know how much the negative stories are sooooo fun and by far outnumber the positive ones. but I had to blog about this lady that literally made my day.

Two person deployment in a totally unexpected blackout.

Z= register person
V= me!
B= the lovely lady in blue

and this is how it went down.

i have a line of twenty drinks. i do not lie i counted. and for every drink i put out one was added. were they getting their drinks in three minutes? no. was i giving out recovery coupons? no. why? because as flustered as having twenty drinks needing to be made by uptight business individuals... I can usually diffuse a situation in a great way. that and I can anticipate the amount of milk etc needed so basically i multitask.

but i also have special powers.
I use adjectives that make grumpy people smile!

V= OK I have a delicious skinny vanilla latte coming right up as soon as this fresh skim milk is steamed. and then ill have an iced tall passion tea lemonade, extra shaken for extra love!

B= *smiles* i cant wait for my delicious skinny vanilla latte

V= *GENUINELY smiles back* well let this be our little secret but i threw in a little extra love to make it super delicious! and here you go ma'am enjoy your beverage and have a fabulous day!

B= *places sleeve and splash stick in her drink* you know, not many people can handle such a line like this and keep a smile, i know a lot of people must get stressed but you keep it up sweetie!

V= well ma'am i could not do it without understanding customers like you! but once i get in my groove i can pump these drinks out fast and delicious. (im still calling out drinks and making them as i am having this conversation)

B= well i dont want to distract you further but you are doing such a great job hun thanks for this it is absolutely delicious just like you said.

V= not a distraction at all ma'am, my name is Valerie and it was my pleasure to serve and talk to you today, I hope to see you soon!

She made me smile. which was the perfect way to end my last shift in 10 days. I will be on vacation in new york. but never fear readers I will have some interesting old stories to share. and when i visit other starbucks locations, the one i dont work at i love harassing customers giving the baristas a hard time, because i can because technically they dont know me.

that will be our little secret!

caffinated love and kisses,

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Pay for one, get two? Not if you are a bitch!

The weather is getting warm. It was absolutely beautiful in DC today! Warm with a nice cool breeze.

Business was steady/slow. I was actually having a really great day until some lady decided I was the most incompetent human on earth.

Two person deployment. Barista on register and myself on bar.

B = BITCH lady who tried to pull one over on me.
R= register partner, she is deciding on a proper alias but R it is for now.
V= me, who doesnt fall for this trick.

and this is what went down.

R= Hi ma'am how are you today?
B= Iced grande skim latte.
V= Ok ma'am Ill have your iced grande skim latte ready in just a moment.
R= your total is x.xx
B= (throws dollars on counters and exact change on counter. pennies are flying)
R= enjoy and have a nice day...

granted R was not as sincere with that last enjoy have a nice day because well who liked money thrown at them. we have hands we hold our hands out in a way that most social people know equals money is placed in hand, not under the hand on the counter, or thrown on the counter. especially pennies and coins. its such a fucking hassle to pick those up when they fly off the counter, under the cabinets.

but whatever. I gave her the benefit of the doubt. maybe her kids didnt give her a mothers day present.

V= are you enjoying the weather? (waiting the 19 seconds for the shots to pull into the drink)
B= (says nothing, looks directly at me and taps her hand impatiently on the counter).
V= ok ma'am here is your iced grande skim latte
B= no it is not, this is not my skim latte
V= yes ma'am that is your iced grande skim latte
B= NO IT IS NOT I WANT IT IN ONE OF THOSE CUPS (cavewoman point to hot cups)
V=ohhh you wanted a hot grande skim latte?
V= i apologize ma'am i thought I heard you say iced...

(at this point i am genuinely sincere i do mishear things at times, but i know this lady said iced and realized her mistake as she saw the iced drink. a lot of people do that. they apologize but this lady... this is so hard to describe...)


and as she says this... i wish i had a picture to show you... but lets just imagine the face you would make if i handed you a drink with a dirty band-aid in it. that is the kind of face she made. It was like the ice might kill her, it was unsanitary... that was the look she had. and me? I was the one with three heads cause who would EVER drink iced lattes when the weather is so gorgeous?

V= ok i apologize ma'am it will take me just a few more seconds to steam some fresh skim milk for you though and you will have your hot skim latte.

B= (huge end of the world sigh and more tapping on the handoff plane.)

funny part is i notice she is starting to slowly move that "incorrect" iced grande skim latte closer and closer to her... hmm interesting.

V= (holds on to the hot drink) ma'am here is your grande skim latte, would you mind handing back that drink you didnt want to me?

B= (tries to grap hot drink out of my hand) no its ok for all this inconvenience i think i will give this one to my husband waiting outside.

V= ok that will be x.xx


V= which is exactly why im asking you to give me back that iced drink so i can hand you this hot drink. you paid for one drink ma'am therefore you receive one drink. would you like the hot one or the cold one?

B= (reluctantly hands over iced drink)

V= (i hand her the hot drink i was holding hostage and then i pour the iced latte down the drain, apparently she saw it and proceeded to throw a hissy fit because her husband could have drank that.)

but see the thing is... usually i will give messed up drinks away because throwing them away is more work for me and i like making my job easier. but this lady was pulling the old switcheroo trick. say one thing to the register partner and tell the bar partner one thing. Which for some people is an honest mistake, but for people like this lady.. it was deliberate. she wanted to pay for one drink and walk out with two drinks, one for her and one for her husband.

I know this trick like the back of my hand, the teenagers I used to serve every friday night in my new york starbucks did this.

sorry this shit doesnt fly with me.

its called capitalism baby, you pay for a product you receive that product.
the fucking end of story.

will she file a complaint? yes and corporate will baby her because i didnt "just say yes" and let the customer have what she wanted. but id rather waste dairy then have that woman walk out with a four dollar drink for free thinking she can pull this shit over at other stores. Im setting an example! doing something good!


PS happy mothers day readers

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Want your story told?

I was thinking that if this blog takes off I would like to have some regular posters other than myself to add to the baristalogues collection.

It can be a one time thing to get something off your chest... or if you are interested in making a regular appearance on baristalogues that could be arranged as well!

Here are the requirements:
  1. must be employed for formerly employed by starbucks coffee company (if you work at another coffee shop, like seattles best, petes, caribou, or an independent... I may be willing to make an exception for extraordinary stories)
  2. posts must either gossip about customers or corporate decisions. they can be positive or negative.
  3. negative submissions about coworkers are not allowed. believe me you want to protect yourself and even with an alias you might get in trouble for posting on the internet about coworkers/managers. so lets just not go there.
  4. decent grammar and spell check a must. I know my grammar is not perfect so I dont expect yours to be. But halfway decent grammar is just a must.
  5. YOU MUST HAVE AN ALIAS NAME. hey this is your chance to get creative and have fun... but lets keep things slightly clean ;).
Lastly submissions must be sent to: where I will post the submission on here under your alias if it meets my standards.

If you are willing to do this on a regular basis and your stories are amusing we can set this blog up so that you can have access to direct posting and it will not have to go through me first.

I think this could be great. I would love to hear stories from baristas all over the nation... and internationally. It would be amazing.

Friday, May 8, 2009

No I Want YOU to Make my Drink NOW

Apologies for the almost week long absence. Pesky finals got in the way and blogging time was axed in favor of studying.

But now that the summer is here off to some lovely stories about customers wanting delicious cold beverages in a timely fashion.


Three minutes. That is the rule, from when you enter the store to when you receive the drink the time elapsed is supposed to be three minutes.

Granted this does not always happen during blackouts. But the tale I am about to tell took place no where near a black out....

And this is how it went down...

three person deployment, all managers coincidentally.
Store manager was on the floor making backups and doing cold beverages if called
another shift supervisor was on bar making mocha since there was some down time.
and yours truly was the register partner, turning over the pastry case.

All of a sudden three people walk in. COOL. we were all getting bored so we were happy to entertain some customers. FIrst and second customers were pleasant and ordered one cold beverage and one bar beverage. Which for deployment sake means my store manager and the shift supervisor were each making one beverage.

Third customer was pleasant... until he got fussy for no good reason.

Lets call him SBM for stupid business man.
V of course is me, yours truly.

V= Hi, sir how are you today?
SBM= I want a tall black tea .... cold
V=ok one iced tall black iced tea. coming right up x.xx is your total, have a great day!
SBM= (silence)

so since store manager and other shift supervisor are finishing off drinks I go back to the pastry case, since there is no need to double bar or double cold beverage station when there are THREE drinks and TWO very fast people making them.

V= (starts putting cookies on a tray)
SMB= I need you to go and make my iced tea
V= (looks over) sir yours is next, my manager is finishing putting a top on that vivanno and then she will start your drink.
SMB= but you have to make it now im late for my meeting.
V= sir your drink will be up shortly. the young lady ordering the vivanno was ahead of you so we have to make hers first and now as you can see my manager is shaking your iced tea.
SBM= (huffs and puffs)


if you were late for a meeting why did you come to starbucks? you got your drink in under TWO minutes.

Why do some people feel such a sense of entitlement that their drink needs to come first.

I have had my fair share of college students complaining because they arent getting their drinks fast enough and are going to be late to class.

I also have had people who are illegally parked outside demand their beverages faster because HELLO I AM ILLEGALLY PARKED MAKE MY CHAI FASTER!!!!

unfortunately there is no magic button that makes milk steam faster, or the blender blend faster.


My favorite super entitled customer happened to be a mother that I encountered on my first week on bar (ahh the days when I was sixteen)

I was taking a little extra time making a nice pattern on a caramel macchiato when all of a sudden.....

BM = Bad mother
V= moi!

V= what.... why would you leave your baby in the car?

granted I was sixteen. the customer is always right I should not have questioned a mothers decision to leave a baby unattended in the car running. and my former manager scolded me for that.

But seriously?
you left your baby.
in the car.
to get a drink.
and then you yell at me?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Thoughts on Summer Phase 1, 2009

What I like:
  • I love focusing on the core drinks we already have rather than making some new blended concoction that we have to push on people to make our quota goal.
  • I love promoting iced coffee
  • I love that our pastries are getting makeovers with less artificial ingredients, and smaller packaging (which means less waste!!!)

What I dislike:
  • The promotion with iced coffee is called "iced coffee with milk," this sounds familiar to a promo we had in summer 2006, called "cafe con leche" which was a failure in my store at least.
  • The promotion does not focus on how you can sweeten your coffee with any flavored syrup you would like at no extra cost.

Why do I think this promo failed three years ago? Well first off not everyone understood that cafe con leche means coffee with milk. But that was easily explainable. The part that got tricky was the standard amount that starbucks wanted us to add for milk is not the exact amount everyone wants.

Yes I know this can be figured out by legendary service, asking them if they want their coffee lighter or darker. But really? its a pain in the ass.

Circa 2006 I was working in a busy drive thru (as a barista... oh the simple days):

Now on drive thru we automatically add milk and sugar/artificial substitutes to your liking but most of our customers that came through the drive thru were regulars and knew exactly how to specify their order.

like "I want a iced coffee dark with just a few drops of soy and 1/2 a splenda"

sure no problem!

The problem occurred when on drive thru and in with the in store customers we would add milk to the beverage as a standard unless otherwise specified and people had a hissy fit because it was too much milk or too much coffee or not sweet enough!

This is why we have the condiment bar, because you get to customize your delicious terraza iced coffee to YOUR liking. I do not know exactly what light and sweet means to you. but to me it means about 1.5x the standard. How am I supposed to know at the other starbucks they know light and sweet means 25 pumps of classic milk filled to the second line and just an ounce of coffee if you dont tell me so!

I have no problem with customizing your beverage for you. Really I dont mind adding the splenda the raw sugar the milk etc etc... I just need to know what you are thinking. I am not a mind reader. And if what you receive is not what you wanted when you didnt specify it dont flip out on me, I simply go by standards unless told otherwise.

When you have a problem and you address it to me calmly we can work together and figure it out. But if you have a hissy fit that usually cant happen.

I really hope this promotion works out better this roll out.
For my sanity and yours.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Apparently I should watch the calories.

In four years I have had my fair share of awesome, fun, annoying, shitty and predictable customers. But never have I encountered such an interaction before.

Said person comes in at 3pm every day.

T = taxi cab driver custimer
V = yours truly

and this is what went down....

V = Hi sir how are you today?
T = grande skim no foam latte
V = ok sir coming right up!

one thing that annoys me about this individual. I cant stand when I genuinely say hi to this man every time he comes in and instead of saying Hi back he just jumps into his drink order. but whatever.

V = here you go sir here is your grande skim no foam latte. enjoy and have a great day!

meanwhile.... I am making myself a quad con panna with caramel sauce... this is after I have already handed T his drink and he is lingering around the hand off plane putting a sleeve and splash stick in his drink.... and as I am making the perfect cross hatch pattern on my delicious beverage he has the nerve to say.......

T = WOAH WOAH WOAH you need to watch the calories!!!!

now. granted, I am not a stick. I am of an average weight. I have curves. And even if I was the most obese woman on the earth how dare you tell me in a patronizing voice that I need to watch the calories?


This man is lucky I did not throw the caramel bottle at him. I was PMSing after all. but all I did was smile and say...

V = I like to treat myself, im not a big calorie counter im comfortable with my body

and guess what he did? this ass rolled his eyes at me.

I know I am going to start a huge riot by saying this but every time I serve this man from now on, he will be getting decaf.

Sweet revenge.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Inaugural Post

Lets start with the basics:

I have been with Starbucks Coffee Company for FOUR years.
I have worked at four different stores, in two different states.
I currently work at a Starbucks on my college campus.
I am a shift supervisor.

But most importantly...

I love and hate my job because of the customers.

There are a handful of customers that I consider a part of my life. We have conversations, we talk about their work, they ask me how school is going. They are polite and they say I make them smile, and that makes me smile.

And then... there are the fucking asshole customers.

My manager says I am charismatic and legendary.
She also says I attract the craziest customers in her ten years of working with this company she has never seen so many assholes.

So clearly, I am awesome, but CERTAIN people suck!

Lets give a scenario like today:

Today I came on the floor for an hour on my day off because they were short handed. Line wrapped around the store, three person deployment.

1 fast register partner + 2 fast baristas double barring = people getting their drink in 3 minutes.

ONLY IF customers follow what we call "calling the line"

And this is what went down.

V = Valerie Verona, yours truly.
C = ass hole college kid

V was in a groove, connecting with customers, saying "Hi how are you?" getting a response and then asking "and what can I get for you today sir/ma'am?" C was with another college student, a girl. we had a pleasant transaction, so now I turn my attention to C.

V = "Hi sir how are you today?"
C = (has conversation with girl he is with)
V = "Sir, hi are you going to be placing an order today?"
C = (continues conversation but gives me a nod)
v = "sir with the young lady that just ordered a tall skinny vanilla latte, are you having a drink"
C = shakes head no
V = "ok well have a nice day, next customer in line Hi how are you today?''

etc etc etc.

all of a sudden I see C paying at the register, then walking to the bar he yells "girl making the drinks I want an iced black tea"

Ok, so I mark the cup and put it to the end of the line, which is about 15 cups.

as I am making drinks he is huffing and puffing....

V = "sir is something wrong?"
C = "you shouldnt talk to customers this way"
V ="im sorry im not quite sure what you mean?"
C = "yelling across the store is rude."
V = "I apologize you feel that way, it is just our way of making sure that everyone gets their drinks in a timely order. you probably have class to go to and people have work to go to. We are just trying to be efficient."
C = "whatever, you should not talk to me like that, and where is my drink I just ordered it"
V = "sir unfortunately I have about 10 drinks ahead of yours, but it should not take that long"
C = "well why cant I have mine now I paid and my friend already got hers"
V =" yes she got hers because she placed her order when I asked her, I took other orders after her and now their drinks come before yours"
C = "whatever bitch just hurry up"
V = "sir respect works both ways in this store, I can either give you a refund now and make you leave or you can wait for your drink without cursing at me"
C =" I want to see your manager"
V = "you are talking to the manager on duty"
C = "whatever"

and he waited.

Meanwhile there was a girl waiting for her drink who was ahead of him and she was lingering around. we will call her MMD, for made my day.

V = "miss did I mess up your drink?"
MMD = "no no no its perfect, I just had some time to kill and wanted that guy to leave so I could tell you what a fucking ass, youre doing an amazing job girl, you have a positive attitude and handled that situation perfectly."


So now, as my own form of therapy....
I need to gossip about customers,
(the ones that suck, and the ones that make me smile.)
I need to bitch about the supid decisions corporate is making.
I need to highlight what corporate is doing right (rare but does exist).