Questions and answers, but mainly questions.

Color me caffeinated


As of last week I am offically a Starbucks Barista … again … for the the second time. Little known fact: I have worked for and quit from Starbucks twice in two different cities before my most recent rehire here in beautiful Dallas. A sophomore at the University of Minnesota and fresh into my first apartment, I “worked” one shift for 3 hours in late September of 2000. No sooner was I handed my green apron then I returned it – a little disappointed at my lack of endurance. But way more sleepy than disappointed. Turns out a five o’clock AM start time and a 12:30 PM History of Journalism class don’t mix very well. I opted for the education. Woops.

I might’ve have forgotten about the incident had I not recieved a W2 the following January for $23 I didn’t received. The manager smirked when I asked if she still had my check. I eventually recieved payment after a rather lengthy conversation with the corporate office.

Jump ahead 4 years. New to Austin, TX, with a wife, a baby, and pretty much no plan, I needed a fast job. Michele at the Brodie Oaks store was gracious enough to hire me, train me, and proceed to slave drive me on the espresso bar. I spent nine months (Novmber to August) at that store. Rich, Matt, and (mainly) Amhir Hidalgo made my time there thoroughly enjoyable. Then I got a real job.

Jump to Dallas. I’m working as a graphic designer for a nonprofit and loving it. We’ve incurred some unexpected medical bills and there’s a Starbucks across the street. The bills were an excellent excuse to give up on quitting coffee. I signed up once again in order to “catch up financially.” Free coffee aside.

I thought it was kind of cool until the other day when an acquaintence suggested I “knew what she meant” about having to deal with people because I “work in fast food.” I don’t offend easily – and I’m kind of ashamed that I was. But I was. Fast food emplyee? Is this the general public’s perception of me? Should I care? Is it wrong to quietly hate this woman?

Whatever. To hell with the public perception. That’s where it’s headed on most things anyway. I like making drinks. I enjoy serving coffee. And I love walking to and from work. Maybe I need to be put in my place here – if so, please post. But I think the position of a barista, though it’s no apprenticeship to Martha Stewart, is a fairly respectable job.


15 responses

  1. danielle

    true, yeah…i think a barista is pretty respectable. i had a bad peppermint mocha yesterday, so i’m a bit pissed at startbucks. :-/ they’re expensive drinks to end up not satisfied in the end. (i was in the drive through and goign to an appintment with derek and i felt bad asking him to wait while i got another one made)

    December 7, 2005 at 1:07 pm

  2. Rachel

    i would NOT consider working at starbucks fast food – however you are in customer service/retail still. so maybe if she would have phrased it that she “knew what you meant” about having to deal with people because you “work in customer service/food/retail” related business that might have been more appropriate.

    i’ve done fast food – arbys and burger king. THAT is real fast food.

    even though i’m sure starbucks does often during the day have the same lines and ridiculous stress level and need for “fast” (speedy service) “food” (coffees and desserts).

    December 7, 2005 at 1:23 pm

  3. No man. You are totally not in “fast food”. I tried to get hired at Starbucks three times and no luck. The job apparently is in high demand. Starbucks is a high-class service industry as opposed to a high volume feeding trough for the public (“fast food”)

    December 7, 2005 at 2:03 pm

  4. RE: Bad Peppermint Mocha
    Danielle: I tried to email this to you, but my sitemail’s all eft up. Here’s what you should do next time you go in there (and you’ll have to go in – this will be inneffective at the drive through). Order you a peppermint mocha and, if there isn’t a long line behind you, ask how it’s made. When they tell you, say, “hmmm – that’s what I thought, but last time I got one here it was bad.” They should give you a free drink coupon or not charge you for the one you just ordered. That is – as long as you’re not talking on your cell phone while ordering. Then they’ll badger you with irrelevant questions, “accidently” over charge you, and make you a luke-warm drink. At least I will.

    December 7, 2005 at 3:08 pm

  5. Lee Ann

    I hear your pain. You know we feel it in our family. Daniel often compares his job to a fast food “joint”. But, on the brighter side you know have a real job and this is just your side gig. And on the brighter side for us, Daniel is applying for grad school and hopefully in September we will back on the road of direction!

    December 7, 2005 at 3:51 pm

  6. Blythe

    hey–i’m a friend of rachel and danielle’s and i am a caffeine addict, so, even though i have no real right to comment, i’m going to. 🙂 a barista is a fantastic job–you get to talk to people, you provide them with their necessary means of waking up or means of having meaningful conversations with friends or co-workers. not to mention the fact that starbucks (from what i’ve heard and read) has good benefits for their workers (though that probably falls under full-time work). starbucks is NOT fast-food. it’s at least three steps in sophistication above it. and there’s no grease involved.

    December 7, 2005 at 5:11 pm

  7. Celena

    Hey, Matt! I’ve enjoyed reading your posts! As for Starbucks… defintely NOT fast food and definitely respectable… except that it’s Starbucks, and I have officially declared them on the top of my “worst experience ever” list and will never set foot in one again… here’s the story… long version…

    I few weeks ago, Anthony received a call from a man who claimed that he had found my journal and was calling to return it. (my name and number were on the front cover.) I didn’t even remember leaving it and hadn’t missed it since I just assumed it was in the car.

    Anthony, being the suave gentleman that he always is, said he’d arrange to pick it up for me since he was a stranger to avoid the creepy stalker factor. He arranged to meet him at the Starbucks by our house (the one you used to work at.) Come to find out, this guy lives in our complex and is a regular at this Starbucks. He had gone in to said Starbucks and saw and heard the baristas flipping through a journal. (Mine!) They were reading it! Apparently he figured out it was a customer’s (MINE!) who had left it. He called them on their invasion of privacy and told them it wasn’t right what they were doing. He said he’d return it to me. They actually gave it to this strange man! Again, I must reiterate that my name and phone number were in obvious display inside the front cover and there’s no way they couldn’t have seen it.. but they had never called me. And remembering when I had last visited, it was at least a week and half prior to this day.

    The guy told Anthony that he’s a writer and totally understands the privacy of a journal. I feel confident that he didn’t read it himself. Anthony said he was a really nice guy. And most of it was my morning conversations with God, so maybe they were enlightened somewhat by reading it.

    So, here’s the thing… I was TOTALLY APPALLED AT THE BLANTANT LACK OF COMMON COURTESY AND RESPECT of these baristas in my NEIGHBORHOOD Starbucks! I can’t believe they didn’t have the decency to call me, were reading it, and gave it to a stranger. I instantly called and spoke with the manager. She gave me the usual, “That doesn’t seem like anyone who works for me. I’m really sorry. I’ll look into it, etc.” I also emailed corporate customer support. I got 2 free drink coupons, which Anthony used because I refuse to go in there any more.

    At the risk of sounding and being a total victim, I feel intruded upon and shocked by the blatant lack of common human respect and courtesy, not to mention lack of customer service!

    OK. I feel somewhat better now. I needed to rant about this. I’m serious when I say they lost a customer. I’ll got to Seattle’s best or even Tiger Mart before I step foot in Starbucks again.

    OK… drama is now over… thanks for listening.

    December 7, 2005 at 5:57 pm

  8. holy crap. that’s pretty bad, celena. email me. i want to know who was reading your journal more.

    December 7, 2005 at 6:55 pm

  9. In Italy being a barista is a career.

    December 8, 2005 at 1:20 am

  10. rich

    being a barista is not as shameful as being in any way responsible for the movie “the patriot”

    on an unrelated note (pun clearly intended), two notes walk into a bar — bartender says, “hey! no minors allowed!” (good one?)

    December 8, 2005 at 10:48 pm

  11. JD

    thanks for the links…respectable, yes…righteous, now that depends…

    December 9, 2005 at 4:43 am

  12. Sem – yes, but so is whistling at teenaged girls.

    Rich – You’ll find any opportunity to hate on Mel, won’t you?

    JD – What? Sulawesi won’t save my soul?

    December 9, 2005 at 2:21 pm

  13. danielle

    thanks for the drink tip, matt…i just need to et up the courage to actually DO it. 😉

    December 12, 2005 at 2:03 pm

  14. rich

    hating on mel for “the patriot” isn’t just any opportunity — it is the _best_ opportunity ;O)

    did you hear he is supposed to make a holocaust movie? sounds interesting, especially considering all the media attention surrounding his holocaust-denying dad

    maybe mel will structure the movie as one long dream sequence cooked up in the mind of an underhanded confederate of the international jewish conspiracy — he will wake up at the end and say, “ah ha! what a perfect fiction, what a flawlessly conceived piece of propaganda, useful not only for silencing our enemies but also for distracting the general populace from our compulsive evil scheming and race mixing! now where did i put hollywood’s phone number?”

    okay, obviously unfair, but you have to admit funny! :O) how did we get on the subject of mel again? oh yeah, it was my fault… still haven’t seen “the passion…” yet…

    December 12, 2005 at 9:50 pm

  15. Ken

    Ask here how “fast” she drinks her 160 degree mocha! You should be proud of the work you do!
    We need to get together and go by a humidor….

    December 14, 2005 at 3:53 am

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