First appeared on Food Riot, by Susie Rodarme
I posted this article about "the worst" Starbucks customers from BuzzFeed (I know, I know) on my Facebook page the other day and tagged my friend Steph, who used to work at Starbucks with me. My barista friends all knew what was up, but a couple of non-barista friends commented that people at Starbucks shouldn't be complaining about stuff that is, essentially, their jobs.
I both agree and disagree with that thought. I mean, everyone complains about their jobs, even if they like their jobs; there are parts of almost every job that just suck.So the whole "don't complain about it, jeez" reaction always comes off being more disgruntled than it probably should.
Here's the other half of that, though: nobody wants to be made to feel like an asshole, and a lot of these "how to be the worst customer" lists (I know, I've written about that topic myself) are full of gripes about things that are pretty basic. On any Starbucks list, having to make a Frappuccino ranks high; it's a basic part of working at Starbucks, and it can seem puzzling to people who have never worked in a coffee shop why some baristas hate them with unrivaled passion. Or, why is it such a BFD to ask for extra caramel? Or to double-check to make sure the barista got your order right? I mean, this is your job, right?
Yes, it is. (Well, in my case, it was.) And that's my problem with these lists and posts, by and large: it is the barista's job to do these things, and while we may, over time, develop irrational-and-highly-emotional aversions to some parts of our job, it's also our job to make sure that customers never, ever know about these aversions.
Because, check it: customer service is also a huge part of our job. It's not the customer's fault that they want what they want. It's not the fault of the individual customer who orders a Frappuccino that we spent all afternoon making wall-to-wall Frappuccinos for screechy-loud pre-teens and want to stab ourselves in the eyes. It's not the customer's fault that they don't know the ingredients of certain drinks or how to order them properly, or that too many other customers who don't know these things act like superior shitheads when we try to help.
It's fine to go into the back room and unload on a fellow barista who will totally understand what you're going through. Get it out of your system. But when we go online and publicly bitch about it, we make our customers feel like assholes, which is painfully unprofessional and bad for business. Stuff about how we (irrationally) hate it when people order extra caramel (which is a perfectly reasonable thing to do when you're buying an expensive customized beverage and you like caramel) should never leave the back room. It definitely shouldn't be splashed all over BuzzFeed and Twitter.
You have my empathy in the back room, but don't you ever shame my customers for being customers. For further reading, check out Rioter Wini's post on how she felt about making her customer's order just right.
(PS: Also? This kind of crap is the reason that corporations are making extreme social media policies. This is why we can't have anything nice.)
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