Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Confessions of a Guest Barista

Alright, so most of ya'll know that outside of my job with Apple, I'm also a Starbucks Barista. (You know, the people that make all the drinks at the 'Fucks and are highly trained in dealing with L.I.B's) Because I decided to head to NYC for the holidays, I was forced to find a replacement the hours I was losing by not working at the local Starbucks at SU. And so, I arrive in NYC, armed with the determination that I was going to find some 'Fucks to work at for the month I'm going to be in the city. I looked up a few locations online, guesstimated their labor needs, and decided to give them a ring or two. I knew that I didn't want to be TOO far away from home, and also, I knew that I didn't want to deal with the same kind of customers that I deal with at the SU Starbucks. (Read: L.I.B.s...) So, here were the locations that I called (or tried to call) during my first run.

1) 225th St. Bronx, NY (by the lovely new Target)

2) 181st. Manhattan, NY (Washington Heights: AKA: Little Dominican Republic)

3) 125th Manhattan, NY (The heart and soul of Harlem)

4) 30 "Roc-A-Fela" Center, Manhattan, NY (Not close to my home at all, but it's right by the NY X-mas tree and right by my momma's job)

Now, you know, most NYC Starbucks partners, when they look at the first three stores I selected, they grimace and say something to the effect of, "why would you want to work THERE?" And then, if you tell them that you happen to live closer to those locations than some of the others, they look at you as if they feel sorry for you or something, even though I could technically be living far better off than the vast majority of them. I've heard horror stories about some of these locations. But I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt anyways, and see what's up. Now, before I tell you what happened, I must say that I sincerely HOPED that these locations would surpass their neighborhood stereotypes...but alas...

1) 225th Bronx NY location:
RESULT: Couldn't get through to them because, SOMEONE STOLE THE STORE'S PHONE.

Ain't that some shit? Someone stole the store phone. In the Bronx. I'm telling you, I was HOPING stereotypes wouldn't come into play, man...

2) 181st. Washington Heights location:
RESULT: I couldn't understand a word the person said because they couldn't speak proper English (or Spanish for that matter).

Once again, I'm TRYING to avoid the stereotypes, but, of course, this Starbucks in Dominican-ville couldn't overcome the negative vibes of the surrounding community.

3) 125th Harlem location:
RESULT: "Yo, son, I don't trust nobody I ain't seen yet, man. So you gon' have to come on in for a meetin', aight?"

Ladies and gentlemen...THAT was the manager. Yes folks, this "Urban Discovery" Starbucks was being managed by a wanna-be member of Ruff Ryders. I couldn't believe it. Are we minorities seriously THIS bad?

4) Rockefeller Center location:
RESULT: "What's your last name? Torres? Oh, I'm sorry, we don't have hours available at this location..." last name was the sole determinant in whether or not I was going to get hours at THIS Starbucks located in downtown Manhattan. I tried giving them the benefit of the doubt, but seriously, that "last name" question does put a big question mark on the whole thing. I'm trying to get away from the whole, "All white people are racist" stereotype, but once again, this woman ain't helping.

After I placed these calls, I decided to take the job search on foot, and make some visits. I made some friends at a few locations in the 90's in Manhattan, which is great. I'm definitely getting hours. I also paid a visit to the Harlem Starbucks, where, after waiting for an hour and a half, I finally spoke to the manager, who wasn't so bad after all. Though his employees...I can't say the same thing about them. Before I identified myself as a Partner, I ordered a drink, and in the middle of my transaction, the Barista at the register decides to walk away and do whatever, leaving me hanging. I had whipped out my money and was ready to pay and everything, and the mofo walked away. After about three minutes, another employee slid in after realizing that I was just standing there waiting to be rung out. Their heads sank low when I identified myself as a Starbucks employee. That's definitely not the way to go, people.

After meeting me, the manager seemed eager to get me some kind of hours at his location. If there was anything he needed, he needed someone who had some good common sense and at least SOME kind of commitment to the work they do.

It's going to be interesting working at all these locations, trying to fill in and become the "guest Barista" of the moment at each store. Hopefully, I won't get any accusations that I'm trying to take over their store or something (like what happened in London), and I'll make the money I need to get on by. :-)

By the way...that Bronx location...they bought another phone, and someone stole that one, too...


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