Confessions of a Barista
Posted July 4, 2008
Hi, my name is Paul. I'm a barista at Starbucks -- or I should say that I was a barista -- but I still feel that I am one, even though I've been given my walking papers, my pink slip, whatever you want to call it, I've been fired from my job. Just my luck, on Independence Day weekend, I'm suddenly dependent on family, friends and Unemployment Insurance.
It's all because the economy sucks so bad that it's turning inside out. They're closing down 600 "under-performing" stores -- some wise guy said, "Yeah, and 38 of 'em are on my block" -- and letting go of 12,000 employees. People can no longer afford to drive to a Starbucks and then buy a cup of coffee that costs more than a gallon of gas.
What I'll miss about my work is the atmosphere -- you know, the ambitious writers tapping away on their keyboards, and the unsuspecting readers who enjoy their output -- sort of like a literary laptop dance.
What I won't miss about my work is the feeble attempt at humor by customers. Each time somebody says, "Oh, I get it, when you say tall size, you really mean small size," they always think they're the first one who ever made that observation.
And those jokes that just make you groan out loud: "Darth Vader walks into a Starbucks and orders a grande breakfast blend. The barista says, 'Would you like room for cream?' And Darth Vader says, 'No, I prefer it on the dark side.'" Or this one: "A spark plug walks into a Starbucks and orders a venti Sumatra. And the barista says, 'Okay, I'll serve you. Just don't start anything.'" Or this: "A skeleton walks into a Starbucks and says, 'Give me a macchiato and a mop.'" And this: "A woman walks into a Starbucks for a capuccino, and the barista says, 'Would you also like to buy something from our bakery and wash it down with a new Norah Jones CD?'"
I didn't move to Los Angeles to be a barista. I'm actually an actor. At first I resented being a cross between a waiter and a vending machine. On one occasion, I really lost it. A customer was being so rude to me, criticizing me for overcharging him, I just said, "Sir, please look carefully at your receipt. The machine doesn't lie." That's when he went into a rage. Well, I served him his "latte with everything," including the saliva I managed to add.
But then I had a little epiphany. I was at the airport, and I saw a sign -- "Last Starbucks Before Terminal 2" -- and I felt a little surge of pride. I had come to identify with the brand. And I realized, all right, if I'm an actor, then I'm playing the part of a barista, and I will put all my training into that role.
As a result, I paid attention to the other actors, the ones who were playing the part of customers, and I understood that they were addicted to caffeine and I had become addicted to being their dealer. Well, my new friends, that's it for now. Thank you for listening. This is my first time at Baristas Anonymous, but you can be sure I'll be back.