Making your latte, working with the motto "just say yes," dealing with the hobos, the clueless, the regulars, and amazing(ly dumb) customers. I'm your starbucks barista.

Aug 22


Yesterday, I was double baring with a new partner.  It was maybe his 4th shift on bar, and a few of us have gone over how to mark a cup and call out a drink a few times.  I pick up the next drink and asked him how he would call it.  It was a decaf venti nonfat latte, which meant the box that was labeled decaf had a big ole X in it, an N in the Milk box, and an L in the drink box.  Pretty basic for someone who’s been on bar or calling out drinks on register for four days in a row.   Thought it would be an easy one.

He just stares at it while in my head I’m all one mississippi two mississippi three mississippi four mississippi fiv-ITS JUST A DECAF VENTI NONFAT LATTE.  So I interrupt his “thinking” and say we’ll take it slowly.  I tell him to look at the decaf box and the shots box.  When calling out a drink, these go before we call out the drink size.  I ask, “do you see anything written in these two boxes?” He opens his mouth like he’s about to say the obvious answer, but nothing comes out.  So he’s just standing there with his mouth open.  ”OKAY… in the decaf box there’s a big X… what does that tell us?”  I get a sound out of him: “uuhhhmmm decaf.”  If he wasn’t able to answer this question, I… I don’t know, I was probably just going to give up all hope on this dude.

But I don’t.  So I say “aalllright, so we know its a decaf drink… now we say what size it is.”  He picks on the cup in his hand, looks at it really hard with squinched eyebrows, and then looks at the stacks of cups for comparison.  This isn’t rocket science.  After working at starbucks - specifically on bar - for like 32 hours total, I’m asking you to identify the cup in your hand - the largest cup.  ”grrra-VENTI”  Nice save there, buddy boy.

I tell him that there’s an N in the milk box - what does that mean?  He is speechless.  What is wrong with this guy?  I really am starting to think that he legit can’t read, which would be sad, but you kind of need to be able to read to work here.  My other coworker gave me a look at this moment, and I’m sure she was thinking the same thing I was: fuuuck, this guy isn’t going to be good enough.

I’m leaving, the main morning rush bar barista put in her 2 weeks a few days ago, and a lot of us are going back to school within the next two weeks so their hours are cut in half and are taking themselves off mornings.  When one of my favorite shifts called attention to the fact that our mornings were going to be difficult to staff the usual 7, my manager commented that we were so lucky to get these 2 new partners just in the nick of time!  Uuhm… no.  I’d rather work understaffed than have to constantly watching someone to make sure they’re doing things write and not causing me to make a mistake because of them (i.e. marking cups wrong, missing orders).

Anyway, back to the puzzled partner.  I tell him the answer (“the N is for nonfat since its THE ONLY MILK THAT STARTS WITH THE LETTER N”) before he can uhm and ah and look at the ceiling for another 5 minutes.  By this time, decaf shots have been pulled, nonfat milk steamed, and I’m finishing up the drink.  I decide, just for my own enjoyment, to ask what the L stands for in the drink box.  ”…LL…LATTE”

I tell him to put a grande/venti hot lid on it, and then tell him to call it out.  I say it three times slowly while I point to the markings on the cup before he calls it out: “decaf… venti… nonfat… latte.  decaf venti nonfat latte. decaf venti nonfat latte.”

What does he say? “decaf venti…uhm no fat… what is it?”

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