Thank You for Visiting

This is my first attempt,  first real attempt at blogging. I have always wanted to write about something that was fun to me. One of those fun things is my  being a barista. Being a barista is not a career choice but a fun choice.

My becoming a barista, came about through a bet. A friend made a bet with me, that I couldn’t go out and apply  for a job within a week and get hired. I took that bet. This friend suggested that I also apply at the  new “coffee establishment”  that was soon opening up and not too far from my home. Well, I applied, got interviewed and later,  hired.    It was just a bet, no wager involved.  At this time, I  was not even looking for a job.  I considered myself an Entrepreneur.  I was also volunteering at the local art museum as an Art Docent. I wasn’t sure if I had the time for a part-time job.  Well, I found the time and gave it a go.  I have been a barista for over three years now. So now  I consider myself an Entrepreneur/Barista, among other things.

The idea for this blog came about when I was reminded of the book I attempted to write a few years ago.  The book was about my experiences as a waitress during the time I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area.  After I  worked at a  “straight” job during the day, I  would later go and work at a restaurant. I was always working two jobs.

The title I have chosen for my book was and still is: “Check Please!  subtitled : Hey! Are You Our Waitress?” If and when the book became a movie, I had Goldie Hawn in mind to  play me. She embodied my personality during that time and she had a cute “tush” as I did.  Now that was 20 year ago. You see, I wore a lot of short cocktail uniforms and costume like uniforms during those days and you had to fit a certain image.  I did then!  Here it is  20 yrs. later and I’m still thinking about finishing that book.  My  filing cabinet is filled with notes and stories.  I worked in some  real nice restaurants. I worked as a food and cocktail waitress at Saluto’s Restaurant (Italian),  and a “wench” at Gullivers Restaurant, Charley Brown’s, Velvet Turtle, Hungry Hunter; all near the San Francisco’s Airport. I also worked at a restaurant called, Taste, as a bartender and waitress, Pasquinelli’s Farm House,   Perfect Recipe, Billboard Cafe, Buns and also hired for the opening  and then kept on at the  the Hard Rock Cafe in San Francisco. Boy, there’s a lot of stories to share. Maybe enough for two books.

The other idea for this blog came about while working as a barista at a well known coffee establishment. The variety of customers I get to wait on everyday brings such an enjoyment to my days.  I’m too a customer and I notice there is a difference in  perspective when it comes to ordering  and getting those coffee drinks.  This blog is from a barista’s perspective, “the other side of the counter.”

There is never a mention of where I am a barista, but you can probably guess. Sometimes I wonder,  if I should do this blog anonymously.  Well, too late now. I  have told too many people about this blog to worry about anonymity now. I did promise myself  that my blog will be just another form of  entertainment. If and when I  do go back into doing stand-up comedy, I might lift some material from my blog. Now that’s a big “IF.”

I hope you find my blog interesting enough to revisit it often. Find out what it is like being your barista.


DISCLAIMER

I was told often, that if I want to write, I should write everyday. I am.  Soooo….any mistakes you should come across while reading this,  is no longer my concern.  (At least for now) You may make your own corrections.  If and when I have the time, I will go back and read over  the blog and make the needed corrections.  Worrying about grammar and punctuations mistakes has already delayed my writing/book. Be assured, I am working on improving my writing skills.  Thank you for visiting. Come Back. Leave a comment.

Published in: on July 3, 2010 at 3:21 am  Comments (3)  

What Kind of Customer are You?

Have you ever gone into a coffee shop to start your day?  Have you ever given  a thought about what kind of customer you are?  Have you ever gone into a coffee establishment and was greeted by the barista with a smile and a “Good morning,” and all you could do was bark out what order you want?  If you are having a bad day and the barista is the first person you come in contact with, do you take it out on her?  Have you ever come across a barista whom you thought rude because she found herself “mirroring” you? You probably caught her off guard, if not, shocked her sensibilities. Did you ever consider the barista being anything else  besides the person who is there only to serve you your coffee?   Have you ever gone into a coffee shop when you were in a hurry and felt it was  the barista’s fault that you were not getting to where you need to go fast enough?  It never occurred to you that if you had gotten up earlier you would have had more time.  Speaking of being in a hurry; have you ever gone into a coffee shop or a drive thru where the lines are maybe 10 people or 7 cars deep and you chose to get in line anyways?    While in that line, you see the barista up ahead waiting on a customer. She is smiling, making animated hand gestures, small talking and all the while multitasking to get her customer’s order completed in a timely manner and you mistook her for being too slow and felt you had to complain to the manager after your order was filled. You weren’t aware that the customer she was waiting on was hearing impaired and after completing her order,  had to wait for this customer to pull out of her purse a plastic bag of change and count out her payment. While  she kept up her smile, she saw you and saw how annoyed you were thinking she was having a good old-time on your time.  Are you the customer that want a pastry and when the barista have it bagged for you, you decide you wanted it heated?  She doesn’t mind, but it would have been nice if you had asked for a warmed coffee cake or warmed scone when ordering. You see that third person in line doesn’t know that she had to take an additional 15 seconds to complete your order.  What I am trying to convey to you is that the barista is not ignoring you or valuing your time less. When you get up to the counter, I’m  sure you would get the same attention and get your order completed in a timely manner.   I know I would.  You see my  goal is to make you a happy return customer and the person whose name I’m going to remember and maybe whose drink order I might remember too.  Are you the customer who heard me welcome the “regulars” by name and often whose drink I remember?  Or are you the customer who comes up to the counter and says, “Give me my regular.” or “You should know my name by now, I come in here often enough.” Yet, you don’t know my name or the other barista’s, nor have you ever asked us what our name are.  Maybe the next time the barista serves you your coffee,  you could thank them by name. Try it. That would make their day. If you think this  doesn’t fits into how you want to do things, may I make a suggestion? Read Dale Carnegie’s book: How to Win Friends and Influence People. When you put your interest into others, amazing results will happen. Like having the barista remember your name and drinks.

After putting in a full day at work (5am to 12:30pm), all I have on my mind is getting back to my blog. I decided to continue and not worry about writing styles, punctuation or grammar.   You may have permission to do it for me. (smile)

Today, I was surprised that all the customers who came into the store,   came in  with smiles and good moods. I had to make a comment to each of them, well, most of them,  about how wonderful it is to  see such happy people.  They made my day.  Were you one of them?  I was  to work until 9:15 this morning, but since I was put  in such  a good mood, I volunteered to trade shifts with another barista who was very tired and wanted to leave early. I stayed later.  The day went by so fast, I almost hated to leave work.  I love my job. I love my customers. Maybe I had too much caffeine today. Just kidding.

Lost in Translation..

I’m several post behind. They are awaiting editing, but I had to write about my morning to keep from crying. Have you ever been accused of being wrong and feel there was a “lost in translation” moment. Let me explain what happened, and maybe I will feel better about the “incident.”

Here it is, the Forth of July and I started my shift on a good note.  Everybody was getting ready for the parade. Some customers were dressed in their red, white and blue tee shirts and others were dressed in their Sunday’s  best and  on their way to church. All in all, everybody was in good spirits. So was I.  It all changed in one “lost in translation” moment. It pains me to think, that this one (really nice) customer thought I was being rude. I was not. I think, she thought, I was correcting her and that might have been construed as being rude. I was not correcting her per se,  let me explain the situation.

This customer  comes in on a regular basis. A real nice customer. She always has a nice smile. She ordered  an iced grande white mocha with extra caramel sauce, with caramel at the bottom and around the inside of the cup. No problem. I wrote the cup was about to put it down on the coffee bar for the barista,  when she,  all of a sudden added, ” I don’t want that other caramel, I want the syrup.” I said, okay, syrup instead of the sauce and proceeded to go pump  the syrup.  The customer than says, “I get this everyday, I don’t want that, I want the syrup.” I mentioned that it was the syrup I had pump and she said, “I wanted the thick  kind.” ” Oh!,” I said. “The caramel sauce , I have the cup written  correctly, I thought you wanted it with syrup this time.”  She called  me rude and all I was trying to do was get her drink correct. Being rude was not my intention,  nor would I have thought she would have thought me as  rude.  “Customers are always right.” She said. I was not correcting her, I was just trying to make sure I understood exactly what she wanted. If only she had said nothing after giving me her order, there would not have been a “lost in translation” moment.  The shift-lead took the order over and rung her up. I felt bad that she rushed to judgment and the shift lead felt he had to take over. I did feel she was rude  when she was at the pick up area telling the customers that I was rude to her. I can honestly say I was not.  I was shocked and almost brought to tears on this one.

(In my head I wanted to go over to her and shake her to tell her, listen, all was okay until you assumed I didn’t know what you wanted in the first place and you felt you had to add an addendum to the order, that was not even necessary.)

After waiting on a few more customers, my shift lead told me to close my till, which I did.  ” I will be in the back.”  I said. Now, did I have to defend myself over a customer’s  misunderstanding? Yes, I did. I was told there is no defending as I was wearing “the apron.” I thought and thought about the dialogue between me and the customer. Matter of fact, i still am thinking about it.  What should I have done?  The only dialog I had with her was taking her order. When was I suppose to have done something? Before I knew anything was wrong I was told by the shift lead that they would finish with her order.  That is when I heard her tell my shift lead I was rude.  I was shocked! I felt she jumped the gun in judgment because she is a regular customer who orders apparently this same drink and felt a sense of entitlement and that  there should be no question as to what she had meant. She would have been right if she hadn’t added the comment about not wanting “that other syrup” which had me think she wanted the syrup. I hate that this whole incidenthad happened. I feel bad that she thought I rude. I feel bad that my shift-lead felt he had to “call me on the carpet.”  He told me by being a loud person, that the customer, maybe felt I was attacking her. OUCH!!

With all the noises behind me with blenders, grinders, ice scooping and order taking, I do try and project my voice so the customers could hear me. Wrong!  Apparently, it’s a fault when it comes to certain situations. From this moment on to please management, I will hold back my projections and  lower my voice. Maybe it won’t be used against me.

Now that I got this off my shoulders, I will let it go and when I see this customer come in this week, I will wait on her and make sure she gets the sauce when she says syrup and not correct her. (The incident never happened)