In the religion of buying organic and local, Whole Foods is like the big, showy megachurch. There’s two-hundred plus of John Mackey‘s paeans to healthful eating in the U.S. and in each store there’s a throng of cashiers bleating the Whole Foods motto: “Would you like five cents back for bringing your own bag or would you like to make a donation to charity?” The prohibitive price of the groceries (Whole Paycheck, anyone?) coupled with the granola (and we’re not talking merchandise here) the company emanates attracts a certain kind of customer. If you’re one of those customers, know that even though your actions may come from a benevolent place, you might be driving your cashier nuts. Here are some helpful tips (culled from a former store employee!) to help preserve their sanity.
Don’t joke about your ID being fake.
You’re handing over the limited-edition six-pack of microbrew or a bottle of biodynamic wine and you crack wise about the validity of your ID. Understand that this happens one to two dozen times a day and by the 15th time, it is as fresh as any sitcom tagline. They see the smirk on your face, and it’s almost like they can hearJoey Lawrence exclaiming, “Whoa!”
This may surprise you, but your cashier probably does not run the store. Don’t complain and/or chastise them because the herbal eyedrops have been moved and you can’t find them or the bulk lentil bin is empty. Again. It’s not their fault, and they don’t care that things are done differently at [insert name of your locally owned organic grocery store that you aren’t frequenting anyway].
Don’t talk on your cell phone.
Actually, go ahead an talk on your cell phone. Making small talk is part of the job, and if you’re on the phone they get to forgo the ritual. Just be prepared to answer all the pertinent questions, like, “How are you going to pay for these biodegradable picnic utensils?”
Don’t assume they buy the Whole Foods hype.
Just because someone works at Whole Foods doesn’t mean they buy into your piecemeal spirituality. Don’t tell them Mercury is in retrograde or lecture them about the latest international cause you’ve taken up. They’ve been standing in place for seven hours, trying to pretend they love every minute of it for fear of losing their job. You’re paying too much for your food, and they’re not getting paid enough to pretend they care.
Put your kids on a leash.
Okay, you don’t have to put them on a leash. It’s demeaning, we know. But learn the line between raising kids to be “free” and respecting others. Maybe they let Dakota express herself like that at Montessori school, but keeping her from scattering peanut butter pretzels everywhere won’t stunt her emotional development.
My years working as a barista have been good and bad, dreadful and fantastic, completely loathsome and absolutely wonderful. Whether it was blending smoothies, answering phones, swirling fro-yo, or pulling shots, I’ve loved and hated every minute of it. The only thing that has pulled me through is that I’ve worked with and met some of the greatest people… and the tips don’t hurt.
These people became my release from a boring shift alone, my dancing partners, my once upon a time roommates, my friends, and above all, the only people you can bitch and moan to about “Soy Tea Latte Lady,” and all of the other ridiculous, rude, and baffling things customers do and say.
Anyone working in the customer service industry knows you’re bound to encounter some less than desirable patrons. As with everything there’s good and bad. I’m not here to necessarily bash my, or any other costumers. Think of it more as a slap on the wrist. A wag of my finger if you will, I won’t say which.
1. Get Off Your Cell Phone!
This should be a no brainer but it still seems to be a continuing problem. It takes five seconds for you to order your medium vanilla whatever. It could take me even less than that to ring you up. You wouldn’t hold a conversation with another person while on your phone so I’m not sure why you feel it’s ok to do it to me. Who raised you? Kim Kardashian? We get it, you’re important, now get the f*ck off your cell phone!
2. The Sincere Belief That I am Stupid
I get that this may not be the most challenging of jobs, but it does require some skill. And no, this isn’t my life goal. I do happen to do other things and am working towards achieving such things other than being ‘Master of the Steam Wand.’ So when you order a small latte with an extra shot and ask me if I understand, or, when you raise your voice to my co-worker and tell her you obviously don’t have to be smart to make coffee, you’re overreaching my bounds of customer service and two seconds away from second-degree milk burns.
3. You Want More Products… For Free
In a perfect world I would give you all the shots of espresso, extra steamed milk, and pumps of sweet flavor your heart desires. However, I can’t. Not only could I get fired, I also don’t really want to give you more steamed soy milk when you’re standing in front of me, clearly drinking your latte, then informing me that, “it’s a little light.”
4. This Isn’t Your House
I know you have headphones in that backpack of yours, not everyone wants to watch old episodes of Seinfeld. Yeah that chair is cushy and comfy, but did you really need to take your shoes off? If I know that your socks don’t match, you’re too comfortable.
5. I Smell Like Milk
6. Your Thievin’ Ways
I’m not sure how that medium chai sounded like a large blended mocha with whip, but I don’t appreciate the eye roll from medium chai. We all know that’s not your drink and no one is sure why you’re taking it. Mistakes like these aren’t done on purpose, but are apparently always the baristas fault. I’d be happy to make a new one but with the added scoff and “Oh my God,” I feel like letting you and blended mocha duke it out for the remaining beverage. Just leave me out of it.
7. The Oversharer
You always seem to come in exactly at the moment I’ve run out of productive things to do. I try to act busy after chatting, making your drink, and hopefully sending you on your way. Unfortunately you take this opportunity to hang around at the bar and chat about your day at work, what you’re going to make for dinner, why you can’t have dairy anymore (in excruciating detail) and how your aunt broke her toe yesterday. I’m sympathetic and understanding, but I don’t want to know how many hours you have or have not spent on the toilet because you opted for cheese ravioli for dinner when you knew better. Besides, you’re a bit off your rocker and my face is starting to hurt from smiling.
8. The Pick-Up Artist
I’m sure you’re nice, really, but I can see where this is going and it’s about to get awkward. This question can be asked in a multitude of different ways such as, “When do you usually work?” and “I don’t usually see you at this time…” All fantastic openers and all prying at what my work schedule is. If I lie you’ll find out anyway, and asking my co-workers isn’t any less creepy. You’ve winked, you’ve called me Peaches, and held onto a handshake for way too long that wasn’t appropriate to begin with. I’m partly flattered, but more so hoping you’ll find a new “Peaches” at a different café far, far away.
9. Money Throwers
After you’ve ordered I extend my hand and instead of handing me money or a card of some sort you choose to throw your money on the counter in front of me. This is one I will never understand. It’s the smallest gesture and the number one thing that I’ve heard fellow baristas gripe about. Nothing says you’re unimportant more than this dismissive and completely infuriating move.
10. You’re Late, You’re Late
I get it, I hate being late too, but you standing, staring, and sighing isn’t making time move slower or make my hands move any faster. I can steam milk and pull shots like nobody’s business, but it doesn’t eliminate the fact that I have a line of drinks in front of yours. It’s not my fault you only have five minutes and you’ll be late. Maybe you should have just ordered a small coffee or better assess your time management skills.
I personally don’t care whether or not you call something the right name, tall, small, whatever. What this boils down to is kindness… or lack thereof.
I’ve witnessed and been the brunt of abuse time and time again and you just get used to it. I heard myself saying something similar recently and then paused and thought… why the hell should I be used to this?!
My patience has been wearing thin in all aspects of my life when it comes to people’s excuses as to why they feel entitled to treat others like garbage. I don’t care if you’re late, you’re having problems with your wife, your husband, your dog, your mailman… All your problems have absolutely nothing to do with me. Taking three minutes out of your day to treat yourself to some delicious coffee should be a joyous experience. Instead I find customers that come in toting their black rain cloud overhead, point out how incapable I am of doing my job, or are so frantic to get in and out they lack any basic social skills at all.
I understand that everyone is going through something, stress from work, family, friends, money woes, being overworked and overly tired, whatever it may be. Well medium, non-fat, sugar-free mocha, welcome to the real world. From what I’ve heard those things are bound to happen here.
A job is a job, but I genuinely like mine. I adore the people I work with and it’s not a bad gig to have when the rest of your life feels like a swirling tornado six days a week. However, it takes just one ass hole to throw a monkey wrench into the whole day.
Don’t think this is entirely up to the customers, baristas can be known to have diva ‘tudes as well. Some, more than others, have a hard time keeping it in check.
I’m not naïve in asking, can’t we all just get along? We won’t. But it’s important to remember the people behind the counter are actually people too. And until we get machines to replace us I say suck it up and smile. At the very least, take a cue from a very wise bunny and “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”
Baristas see a lot of people during the day. They have to know all the different drink orders, remember faces, and always look happy. There are certain things that baristas hate though, but they’d never tell you that. Here’s the Top 14 Things baristas hate.
When somebody touches all of the cups when deciding what size they want
PLEASE STOP DOING THAT
“What do you recommend?”
HOW DO I KNOW WHAT YOU LIKE
When people leave messes for me to cleanup
Stop that. Clean up after yourself
Waiting for the customer to decide what they want.