DepressionistaYou scream, I scream, Let's All Scream at a Barista!Melissa Stephens

“Relationships are like pudding to me.  I can have one at any time” – Jake Gyllenhaal for shizzle.  

For the past couple of weeks, I have noticed that I have massive reactionary sarcasm in coffee shops, grocery stores, banks, bodegas, anything that has customer service.  Don’t get your tampon string in a wad – I worked in the service industry for ten years starting with Manhattan Bagel and ending with Jack and Jill’s in Beverly Hills.  Try and guess which one I s**t my pants in.

How many times have you gone into a coffee shop like Starbucks and waited in a ginormous line to order coffee, only to be assaulted by an overly energetic barista who would rather have a conversation than do their job?  Oh, this happens to me every day – doesn’t matter if its Coffee Bean or a mom and pop café, every time I am amazed at the idiocy that inhabits them.  Now, I know I sound like an assh*** and I am here to tell you maybe I am, but let’s look at the facts here:

  1. Coffee is a stimulant that you need to wake up, concentrate and avoid eating.
  2. Before ordering, I am lacking all of those things, so back off.
  3. I don’t know you.
  4. Please, thank you and you’re welcome are the only necessary words.
  5. The customers who engage obviously have self-esteem issues.

Full disclosure: I have taken part in both sides of the argument and I am making sweeping generalizations that include me and because I can.

Coffee shops are not the only culprits in this scenario.  Pinkberry has become aggressively perky lately, all movies theatres with assigned seats have taken hospitality to a new level.  All restaurants are cursed with this, which ends in suicidal waiters who recommend crappy food.  I respect a non-communicative waitress who does her job more than a “friendly” one who annoys me.  The only establishment that in my opinion is allowed to behave in a warm friendly way is a neighborhood bar that’s empty.  Bartenders work off of tips so they can lube up their customers with chit chat and the patrons are under the influence and most likely looking for conversation or maybe even a one night stand.  This I approve of. But Starbucks – what’s your excuse?  I will tip you more if you shut up.

Recently at my local Starbucks, after waiting in a mammoth line I was forced to endure the following interaction:

S-Bucks Employee: “HI, How are you?”

Me:  “Good, you?”

S-Bucks Employee:  “Pretty Good, Pretty Good, can’t complain.  You look good today, have you lost weight?”

Me:  “Um.  No.”

S-Bucks Employee:  “Well you look good. What can I get for you?”

Me:  “Regular Coffee.”

S-Bucks Employee:  “Want anything sweet with that? The cookies are really good today!”

Me:  “Nope, I’m good.”

S-Bucks Employee: “$1.95. Would you like a receipt?”

Me:  “Nope.”

S-Bucks Employee:  “How’s work going?  Busy day?”

Me:  “Nope.”

S-Bucks: “I hear ya! Have a good day, Melissa, see you soon.”

WTF.  So many things wrong with this conversation. Let’s play Where’s Waldo with this interaction.  How many times do you think this guy crossed the line or got weird or was just plain annoying?  The answer will be at the bottom of the article.

This employee has on multiple times asked me if I have lost weight.  That’s offensive – it implies that at one point I was fat, which I’m not.  I haven’t lost weight so it’s an empty attempt to compliment me.  That’s like asking “How far along are you?”  I’M NOT PREGNANT.   Real life.  That happened to me when I was a waitress and I went to the back and cried concerned that I looked pregnant.  Aprons are unflattering; they don’t fall well on me, high waisted or low waisted.  Attention mothers, sisters, wives, mistresses, girlfriends, daughters, friends with benefits, please tell the men in your life that’s not okay.  Pregnancy and weight should never be discussed in a casual conversation while ordering anything.

The reason I bring this topic up is because I have a lot to say about it.  But the main reason is, I am embarrassed at my behavior.  I feel the many times I have rolled my eyes, not made eye contact, sighed, asked where my order was, said out loud to other people “What is taking so long?”, cursed and stormed out has left me with the feeling that maybe it’s me.  I don’t do these things all the time and maybe they aren’t that noticeable but I have done them in my lifetime.  So I have to be honest with myself: Do I feel this way because I am trained to want everything instantly or because I hate human interaction?  Honestly, I’m unsure.  Sometimes its both.  I grew up in the south and maybe this is a revolt on the slow speech, slow cars and lackadaisical people that I put up with for many years.  Either way, my behavior isn’t necessary, it’s like speeding up to stop at a red light.  Pointless.

I will say this.  I would love it if all Coffee shops were a little bit more like any government run service.  I’d love me a good old DMV barista.

Annoyance count is: 12.   And I s**t my pants at Jack and Jill’s of Beverly Hills.  Didn’t think I would out myself, did you???

Image by Mitch Loidolt

 

  • http://www.facebook.com/nicolerwuest Nicole Wuest

    This is rude. I’m a barista at Starbucks and we are forced to talk to you that way or we get into trouble. Also, it’s genrally nice when we are treated like human beings instead of robots.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Jakalicious Jaklin C

      I recently left Starbucks after working there for years, and NO, you don’t get in trouble for failure to initiate a conversation!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=39904575 EJ Cummins

      I worked at a Starbucks for a few years and I can confirm, if a secret shopper comes in and you don’t initiate conversation with them (outside of the necessary “What would you like?” “Do you need a receipt?” chatter) you lose points and for that you can get into trouble.

      I hear you Melissa, I hate chit-chatting with people when I just need to grab something and go, but blame the company not the barista.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nicolerwuest Nicole Wuest

    Also, regular is neither a flavor nor a size. Be specific if you don’t want questions asked.

    • http://www.facebook.com/ashley.sadilek Ashley Nicole Sadilek

      Thank you! It is annoying when a customer walks up and orders a regular. There are sizes for a reason. A regular for some is a Grande, then others want a tall, or Venti. We are not trained as mind readers and most of the time our benefits do not cover crystal ball replacements.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=31208271 Stephanie Houser Newman

    Please don’t come back to the South. We are not “lackadaisical” people, nor are we “slow.” Most of us just take the time to genuinely care about others and realize there is more to life than the constant run-around and selfishness that seems to be so prominent amongst most Americans anymore. I’m glad you at least realize that behavior is pointless, and it will never make you happy.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001316455842 Roby ‘n Sugar Watson

      I am completely with you. I can’t believe how horrible the service is in LA. I never thought I would miss Arkansas, but why does everyone have to share the attitude of the author?

  • http://www.facebook.com/kayers Katie Ayers

    Seriously? With all the crap service in the world, you’re complaining about people who are nice and friendly to you? Honestly, it IS you, not them, who has the problem. The fact that you’ve worked in customer service means you should know better. These people are forced to deal with guests like you and worse all day long and the fact that they’re still attempting to be friendly should be commended. You absolutely should be embarrassed about your behavior.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kaya.harridge Kaya Harridge

      Thank goodness it’s not just me taking serious issue with this article!

    • http://www.facebook.com/margarete.hernandez Margarete Hernandez

      This seriously. People complain about such horrible customer service and you complain because that barista took interest in your life other than merely serving you coffee? Baristas are human too, you know. Not just robots who are there to churn out your high-maintenance with multiple modifications latte. Seriously, it doesn’t hurt to be NICE to people in the service industry when they’re actually making an effort to be better than their jobs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/coll.e.bain Colleen McKnight-Hanniford

    I feel the same way sometimes, but not all the time, and I think it’s all about tone and intention. Example: When I’m in a clothing store, not looking for anything in particular, or fully capable of finding whatever I’m looking for myself, I get irritated when every employee in the store gives me the chipper but too eager or fake and patronizing, “Do you need some help?” While I appreciate that if I needed help they are there to assist me, I don’t like feeling pressured to accept help when I don’t need it because the employees work on commission, or feeling like a lost puppy because I am not dressed head to toe in H&M/Urban Outfitters/Forever 21/whatever, so I don’t look like I belong and therefore it is assumed I have no idea how to find pants. However, a totally unloaded “Can I help you with anything” from one or two employees is just fine with me.

    I don’t really mind cheerful banter with baristas/restaurant servers/grocery store clerks, because I’m not usually at these places when I’m in a hurry. I live in Canada, and if I need caffeine on the quick (and cheap) I go through a Tim Hortons drive thru. If I’m at a Starbucks (or the Canadian equivalent Second Cup) it’s usually because I’m going to be there for awhile with friends or killing time/studying.

    I generally enjoy the cheerful exchanges, but that’s because I find they are few and far between. I’ve gone to far too many customer service-y places where the employees clearly hate their jobs/life/me for some reason and are sour and rude. Major dislike.

    As a restaurant server myself, I try to strike a balance. I really don’t like my job, but it’s my choice to be there. So I’m not the most friendly and engaging server at tables, but I’ve been told many times that I’m polite, pleasant and cheerful. And while I very much appreciate polite, pleasant and generally agreeable customers (because they are also few and far between), uber-chatty customers are a pet peeve of mine. If it’s not busy, chat away. If I’m busy, I’m usually going at a decent power walk/jog from table to table, and I don’t have time to talk about my life/their life/their grandchildren/etc. But even WORSE than that (because at least the chatty ones have good intentions) is the customers who say they are ready to order but are 100% not ready, and my presence is not required for their decisions (if they have questions, that’s different). That drives me CRAZY.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001684683148 Amber Arias

      Word. Totally agree on all fronts.

    • http://www.facebook.com/smithelena Elena Smith

      PEOPLE! they are forced to be that nice to you. You can always pick out the people who have NEVER worked in a coffee shop or retail.
      I got yelled at once by a manager because I didn’t ask every customer that walked in if they were ok and how fantastic the weather was. I would much rather not be treated like crap and couldn’t honestly care less about how you are or compliment your ugly ass bag.
      GRR.

      AND as for starbucks- they train you for a week on engaging with customers and noticing things about them so you can strike up a conversation. Its part of their job.

      I get it that if you don’t know and or understand why people are being nice to you but maybe being nice back or a little “fine thanks, I will come find you if I need anything” may go along way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rachelrogue Rachel Johnson

    I agree with everything above. I’ve worked at starbucks and a local coffee shop, so on one hand you have a coporation that wants you to be a friendly face, know regulars names and upsell, at a local place, they want their customers to feel recognized, respected and part of the “community.” If you want to be that rude customer who gives short, sarcastic answers that people dread, go for it. It doesn’t mean the barista is doing anything wrong.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=22017136 Jen Aguilar

    I was a barista for 5 years at Caribou Coffee and I tried my hardest to be nice and just give people their coffee without pushing other stuff on them or asking them about their lives. Of course once somebody becomes a regular they start opening up to you and become your “friends” but I would only do that if they iniciated the friendship if not I owuld just have their Medium Americano with an extra shot

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1320000041 Jessica Sherwood

    I think everyone ‘taking issue’ with this article should calm down a little bit. She says that she has worked in Service before and that she sees both sides of the issue, and at the bottom of the article she basically addresses that the problem is herself. She’s sharing an opinion that EVERYONE has at least sometime in their week, at some point in time you are not in the mood to have that chatty conversation- you want to get your food and get going. Working as an opener for Panera has realized that you can’t be super chatty with everyone at 6 in the am. People need their coffee to wake up.

    If everyone would take a good hard look at themselves I think you would see that you have this attitude too, it doesn’t matter if you’ve worked in service your whole life, there are going to be the days that you are not in the mood and that is on YOU, not blaming it on the barista. And that is what she was trying to say.

    • http://www.facebook.com/iluvjoseiii Iris Casarez

      I totally agree with you some of the people postings are about as “rude” as they consider hers to be…i like when the people on the counter are nice and talkative but.my problem always seems to be I go thru the grocery lanes were the ones tht seems to hate their job are at, making me feel awkward for saying hi and smiling at them…but I dont take it to heart I see it as im having a good day and not letting someone I see for less than 5minutes ruin it. I actually laughed at the “are you pregnant line..i said it one to someone my hubby,son and I were at a store and she was doing my makeup she was chattering.bout.my son and not to be a jerk she did look pregnant so I asked and she responded she wasnt…rest assured that killed the conversation

  • http://www.facebook.com/awrymag Jane Mountain

    Here’s an idea, when you’re feeling particularly frustrated, why not try being nice back? These people have sucky jobs, it won’t kill you to smile and make small talk for 3 seconds. And it might even make you feel better.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1246213907 Marissa A. Ross

    As someone who has worked in service (and now doesn’t), I go out of MY way to be kind to service people. I always ask THEM how they are doing and tell THEM to have a great day. I’m not always in a good mood, but I know that that is not any stranger’s fault and why not try to bring a little happiness into someone else’s life?

    I can’t believe this was submitted to HG. This would been fine for a personal blog (heck, my personal blog is all about ranting), but on a website geared towards creating a positive environment? I’m a little taken aback.

  • Anonymous

    I am also a barista at Starbucks and I find this a tad bit offensive. Perhaps this young woman was trying to kill you with kindness for being such a jerk. I understand that you are in a rush and need your coffee, but maybe you should get up 15 minutes earlier and be a little less impatient. Geeze.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bekah47 Rebekah Kibodeaux

    I had never heard of someone complain about nice people, until now. The “have you lost weight” thing is pretty annoying. But, really? TOO nice? How was this submission picked to show off to us, the readers?

  • http://www.facebook.com/mitchloidolt Mitch Loidolt

    haha baristas gonna hatista

  • http://www.facebook.com/prettynerd70 Kendra Lancaster

    i’ve worked in retail for the past few years and it is definitely the company who forces you to speak with anyone and everyone who walks through the doors. i get customers who LOVE the fact that everyone has said something to them, and customers who just want to be left alone. i think the latter is the one i hear most often, but still we are forced. it’s almost like there is this fine line you have to walk on between friendly and not overbearing.

    as for me, i like friendly people when i go to coffee shops. the guys who work at the sbux where i live pretty much know me by now and if they weren’t somewhat friendly i probably wouldn’t go there so often. that’s the philosophy company’s have when they force their ppl to talk to others… just in most cases because of the force, employees are overbearing and can say ridiculous things that irk customers because they fear for their job. so i can see both sides, but friendly customer service is going to win out in the end because the majority of people prefer that over feeling that they are being ignored or are a hastle to the employee.

  • http://www.facebook.com/heidi.m.sanchez Heidi Sanchez

    I’ve worked at a drive-thru mom&pop coffee shop for two years, and have the opposite complaint! Customers who would sit and talk to me for minutes! The worst part was that I had to pretend to care, despite there being four cars of angry customers behind them, and all I could worry about was how pissed they were gonna be when they ordered, due to the “slow service”. On the contrary, there can be a very special bond that develops with the “regular” customer. Despite knowing what kind of dog they had, how they felt about the weather, or where they were from, I often never learned their first names. It is satisfying to see the effects of providing great customer service to someone in need of caffeination. Also in the form of more tip$.

  • http://www.facebook.com/almie.rose Almie Rose

    “That’s offensive – it implies that at one point I was fat, which I’m not.”

    :/

    This comment is just as offensive; it implies that there is something horribly wrong with being fat. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that maybe you didn’t mean for it to sound like that…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=808614761 Sophia Rossi

    I am really impressed by all the responses. I am happy that you guys felt the post was worth engaging in. I know the authors intentions were not to upset anyone. That being said, I love all baristas and all Hellogiggles readers. xoxo

  • http://www.facebook.com/cara.stover Cara Stover

    This is honestly the first HelloGiggles article I do not like! I’ve never heard of anyone complaining about friendly customer service before. I work in a very busy, fast paced restaurant in Hollywood and I think people prefer the extra time we take to ensure customer satisfaction.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alyssa.day Alyssa Day

    I read a bunch of the comments, and I agree that it’s rude…BUT did you read the full article? Stop attacking her because she obviously states that she thinks there is something wrong with her for thinking the way she does. You could just agree without being mean.

    The guy you interacted with was really strange. I would have just told him that I wasn’t in the mood to talk. It’s okay to tell people what you need/want them to do as long as it’s not rude. I feel like the biggest part of working in customer service is to listen to the customer; he should have taken your huge “I don’t want to talk” signal and shut up. He didn’t thought, so you should have said, “I’m sorry, but I’m not in the mood to chit-chat.” Also, it bothered me that you cut slack on bartenders but not waiters because bartenders work for tips when most a waiter salary comes from tips.

    Nothing is wrong with you for not wanting perky service professionals, but it is wrong to get angry at them for it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=6702019 Sara Blanco

      I’m pretty sure that people did read the full article. The acknowledgement that it’s the ‘writer’s fault’ is so half-hearted that it reads like ‘oh i might sound like a jerk, so better cover myself’ and then the article reverts back to a sort of ego-centric rant. As a reader, I just thought, Well, this person is unlikable and clearly not observant enough to have any opinions I ever want to read again. I’m still looking for the humor too…

  • http://www.facebook.com/ashley.sadilek Ashley Nicole Sadilek

    If you want to avoid any chit chat, you can always just go straight to your order. Several times a day I’ll greet a customer with “How are you doing today?” If they respond and initiate a conversation, then I’m chatty, however if they just say “I want a tall coffee,” without acknowledging my question I understand that they don’t want to chat and I limit the interaction with them. Yes, it’s slightly annoying to have a customer be short with us, but we move on. But don’t answer her question in a way that may be seen as wanting to be friendly, and then punish her for taking your lead.

    Also, after the would you like your receipt question, you may have moved to the place to pick up your drink instead of lingering at the register, indictating that you may have been open to more conversation while your coffee was coming. It is awkward for us to have customers just standing there waiting, and it looks bad on us if we aren’t interacting with you in some way. If a manager were to walk up at that point they wouldn’t know at first glance that you’ve been helped and then we’d get in trouble.

Need more Giggles?
Like us on Facebook!

Want more Giggles?
Sign up for our newsletter!