Thursday, August 2, 2012

Does your Starbucks barista smile at you?

So, I don't usually come to Starbucks during the morning or daytime hours. For starters, I don't function at all before noon and I really don't do all that well while the sun is up.

But truthfully, the store is much more frantic during the day - and thus, the possibilities for drama are so much greater.

However, there's a tradeoff. For starters, I dislike the daytime. Also, the store itself is crowded. The vibe is hurly-burly, loud and not conducive to rational thought. And finally, the baristas are busy, the customers are rude and everyone is in a hurry and fighting for space.

I like a mellow vibe. Anything after 6 p.m. suits me, when the store clears and there's just me, music, the baristas and a reduced crowd that isn't waiting to pounce on an open seat like a Kardashian on pro athlete.

But when I do have to get up - like today - I like to drop in just to see if there is trouble brewing. (see what I did there?)

Timing is everything. Never hit at a quarter to eight or a quarter to nine. Those are prime spots for people racing for offices who think they can "stop in" for a quick coffee. So wrong. Anything 9 a.m. - noon is troublesome if you want laptop space and an outlet. Ditto for 2-4 p.m., although there's usually a window from noon - 1:30 p.m.-ish.


I hit just after 9 a.m. Walk in and walk right up to the register, because the office drones are just clocking in and the early a.m. flock hasn't come back out for coffee yet.

One of my regular baristas greets me. She's picking up a shift at this store instead of her own (she was the one who sang Adele - and sounded like a live cat being put down a garbage disposal). She rolls her eyes, I roll mine. We love each other.

I go with what's become my standard, a mocha frappuccino made with breve and real espresso shots. Yum-o-rama. She calls it, and adds "Because he's a pain, he wants real coffee." The barista on bar hears this and turns around, like "WHAT!!," sees me, then laughs.

I get my drink, sit and observe.

I timed it just right, because the office birds hit like a flock of seagulls descending on a bucket of bait right at 9:15. Coffee and a smoke break, ya'll.

So, I'm just chillin, like a villain. Tapping on my phone.

Then I hear it. This voice.

This screech.


From the depths.

Of hell.

Or maybe Brooklyn.

I couldn't tell.

Let's call her Yoga Yolanda.

She was in yoga pants and sweatshirt, which had been trimmed to show off her stomach. In fairness, sister-girl was looking fit. Curves in the right places, didn't look like a hooker, just a slouchy yoga girl nipping down the block for a post-workout coffee.

But she has this fake chumminess with the baristas - the loud chattiness and mouth that says "I don't know ya'll, but I pretend we're friends so maybe you'll give me a discount one day?"

Girl, they know you. They don't like you. You will never get anything for free except a smile. OR WILL SHE?

But I digress.

Yoga Yolanda orders, then edges sideways. She decides to strike up a "conversation" with the four baristas who are going flat out to keep up with this sudden rush that sees the line stretch back to the door. It includes two mommies with huge strollers who debate smoothies vs. sugar-free frappuccinos until I want to scream at them "Neither one is that good for you!"

Yoga Yolanda never directs her utterings to any one barista - she just aims the words into empty space until someone mutters a response. So, for the following, this really isn't a "conversation," just Yoga Yolanda dialogue punctuated by random "Hmm" and "Okay" noises from whoever happened to be passing by at that moment.

So just imagine that's how the conversation goes. She talks. Random sound. She talks some more. The line is stacked up, so we get a good bit of this.

Yoga Yolanda: "It is really busy in here today." (Step back. Got a MENSA genius up in here!)
Yoga Yolanda: "It has been really hot lately." (It is Florida - South Florida - in June? You were expecting Anchorage?)
Yoga Yolanda: "I like it when you work." (Aimed at the barista on bar.)
Yoga Yolanda: "I'm in a happy mood today."
Yoga Yolanda: "You're all in a happy mood today too."
Yoga Yolanda: "I wasn't really happy on Wednesday morning."
Yoga Yolanda: "It was really bad. I had terrible service."
Yoga Yolanda: "It was so bad I just didn't want to come back ever again."
Yoga Yolanda: "Nobody smiled at me when I got my coffee on Wednesday."
Yoga Yolanda: "Everybody smiled at me today."
Yoga Yolanda: "I like it when people smile at me."
Yoga Yolanda: "That's probably because I came in at 6 a.m."
Yoga Yolanda: "Why wasn't anybody in a good mood on Wednesday morning?"
Yoga Yolanda: "I just felt bad the whole day because the people here were grumpy."
Yoga Yolanda: "I just don't understand why nobody smiled at me."
Yoga Yolanda: "I don't like it when I don't get a smile."
Yoga Yolanda: "Do you think it was because it was so early in the morning? I didn't think about that."
Yoga Yolanda: "I'm always grumpy before I have my coffee too."
Yoga Yolanda: "OK. Well, thanks for smiling today!"

She's the ONLY one that talked during this entire conversation. The concept that someone might be grumpy about getting up before 5 a.m. to serve coffee to folks like her was apparently a foreign concept.

God bless Yoga Yolanda and her yoga pants.

PS: She ain't tip neither. Maybe that's why they don't smile girlfriend?

TOILET UPDATE: Here's an update on the bathroom situation. The lights are back on in the men's room. The ladies loo is still on lockdown - going on a full week now. Tonight, there was just a roll and a half of the cheap Starbucks toilet paper in the men's room - and no more in the supply cabinet.

I also scouted when I went in. There is TOTALLY an outlet in the men's room. It would have been a simple matter to take one of the three COMPLETELY useless lamps that clutter up the cafe area (they were added in the remodel - looks nice, but made the cafe are much more customer unfriendly) into the bathroom. The store has six-foot picture windows that get natural light; the cafe doesn't NEED lamps. They just suck up outlets. Yet, not one person thought to move one to the bathroom for three days. *sigh*

Problem-solving is SUCH a lost art.

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