Miss Woodhouse's Musings

…about life, the universe, and everything. Don't panic!

The Extra Mile

Every Starbucks has at least one person like her. She says she’s homeless, she tells us that she lives with her goddaughters. She comes in to the store while she waits for the bus. The situation is enough to touch your heartstrings.

Until you are around for a while. Then, you begin to see a few disturbing things. She begs customers for money (something that we must forbid on Starbucks property, and she has been told many times that soliciting customers for money is not allowed). Then, she comes up to the registers and asks us for free pastries and free coffee. Not just asks, but begs. Then, she takes the money she begged from the customers (for coffee) and takes it to buy cigarettes and lottery tickets. I’m not in any position to judge her life, but it is off-putting and disturbing to people who don’t like seeing their niceness used for a different purpose than they intended.

We really, really want to help her. Deep down, we all want to be generous. Unfortunately, it’s one of those situations where if you do one nice thing, then she expects more and more and more and more.

We haven’t seen her in a while, but the other day she came back. Instantly, she started in on us. First, she targeted me (she is good at figuring out who is the newest and least experienced). I’ve no authority to give out free merchandise, so I passed it off to my shift.

I’m a coward, I know.

My shift is a wonderful, soft-hearted, giving person. However, she knows the history and trends even better than I. She offered to look in our donation bin for some nice pastries, but that was all she could really do. My shift returned with several slices of coffee cake from the night before, neatly wrapped up.

The woman thanked her profusely, and went to sit down in a comfy chair. Coincidently, this chair was next to the table of the only other person sitting in the cafe. He’s a regular, and we figured he was safe from her begging seeing as how he was deeply embroiled in a cellphone conversation.

Within 5 seconds, the woman called across the cafe to my shift, asking for a plate and fork. My dear shift grabbed the requested items, and took them across the cafe to her.

Less than 20 seconds later, the man at the table gets up and comes to the counter, still on his cellphone. He usually comes in with a woman, so we assume that he’s getting ready to order her drink. He stares at the board for a minute, obviously perusing his options. Then, he orders a grande latte.

As any good barista should do, my shift asked if he wanted any flavouring in it. He shrugged at us, gave a little smile, and quietly said that he was getting for the woman in the chair.

My shift and I weren’t quite sure how to react. On one hand, it was really sweet of this guy to buy her a drink. On the other hand, 20 seconds to get a guy on a cellphone to buy her a pricey drink had to be a new record. We look at each other for a moment, and then shrug. My shift gets the milk steaming. I go back to mopping the floors. The customer looks at me, and holds out a $5 bill.

Here’s where I make my decision: if the customer wants to be nice, I’ll let him be nice. However, I’m not going to charge him for the drink. I smile at him and shake my head; I’d take care of it later when I got my food for my 30. He smiles back, then frowns a little. He continues to stand there.

I go back to scrubbing mats. My shift finishes the drink, and hands it to him. He once again tries to pay, but she tells him “no” as well.

Sweet man, he honestly wouldn’t take our no as an answer. He stood there insisting on paying until we rung him up. Then, he patiently fixed her drink up with sugar according to her specifications. Specifications, I might add, that she yelled at him from across the cafe. He even came back up a minute later to get her a spoon because she wanted one to “drink” her latte.

She left a little while later, leaving her plate, spoon, fork, and empty cup littered around the cafe. I never did hear her thank him for his care and consideration.

However, it blew me away. It was a sweet gesture, done quietly and without show. Not only did he reach out to this woman, but he did more than the minimum required by the situation. He could have gotten a tall; he bought a grande. He could have gotten plain coffee; he bought her first latte ever. He could have accepted our refusal to let him pay; but he paid anyway. He totally amazed me that day.

Our customers are, hands down, the best in the world.

I wish I could be more like that at work. I wish that I didn’t have to filter situations through a more jaded screen. I have no problem doing “x”, but I know that should I do “x”, next time there will be a loud demand for “x+y”. The next time, “x+y+z”, and so it goes.

But this one man, he’s not there enough to risk seeing her again for a long time. He reached out and touched her life that day, and I can only hope and pray that it made a difference to her.

It certainly had an impact on me.

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What Lies Beneath

Last night at work I went to my sarcastic place.

I’m not proud of that fact. While a sarcastic me is a funny me, and my coworkers appreciate the laughs, it doesn’t leave me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. However, last night I found myself pushed to the edge of my reserves, and I had two choices:

1. Be as silly, goofy, funny, and witty as I could muster at short notice, or

2. Burst into tears.

I think I speak for all when I say that humour-ish statements were preferable to tears. Besides, I had already been crying earlier in the night. Now, allow me to explain. In the almost two years I’ve worked at Starbucks, I’ve only been brought to the point of tears three times (this is a pretty good record):

1. By a former coworker who would be awful mean to me when we were working alone, but sweet and wonderful if any other coworker was around. *rolls eyes* It got reeeaaallllyyy old.

2. By a customer’s story of the death of their parent. Sad, sad, sweet story.

3. Tonight. Enough said.

Now, I’m a Christian. For some of you, I’m sure you involuntarily shuddered at that statement. Christians often have a stigma attached to them: aloof, condescending, self-righteous, holier-than-thou. I hope that I am not like that. I strive to not be like that.

However, the people that came in tonight were, sadly, acting like that. The thing is, I have a history with these people outside of the store. I’m not just some random barista, they aren’t just some random fellow Christian people. We know each other. I do my best to treat them well; I call them by name, ask about their lives, and am just generally friendly to them. Friendly, even though I know what the outcome is going to be, how they are going to treat me. Not that they are horrible, but they aren’t exactly nice either. Last night it was too much for some reason. It hurt. I ended up in the back room trying to wipe away traces of tears.

Would someone remind me why I wear mascara to work?

So, like I said before, I went to my sarcastic place. I really, really hate that about myself. I hate that their poor behaviour impacted me so much that I felt the need to alter my behaviour. That’s not good, healthy, or right.

Earlier yesterday we held our first meeting for a 40 minute Kay Arthur Bible Study. The topic is “Living Like You Belong to God“, and the key idea of the study is that of “holiness.” My favourite university Bible teacher describes holiness as “being set aside for special use.” It’s not that there’s anything inherently different about something holy from something that isn’t; rather, it’s mainly how this thing is used.

These people tonight decided to not act holy. That’s fine; it’s their decision to make.

I, however, don’t think that I ultimately responded in a holy manner. Not that I was mean to them or anything like that, but I allowed my hurt at their behaviour to turn into biting humour later on.

*sigh*

No one is perfect, right?

So, that’s one of my goals for the summer. I’m going to take what I learn in that study and work on not letting other’s behaviour influence mine. By the end of the summer, I hope to be able to just shrug off customer issues and keep on keeping on. I’ll keep you all posted on how it goes! As my new manager says, “It is what it is.”

Until then, let me leave you with this thought: 6 months until Christmas!

Yeah, coworkers and customers weren’t overly thrilled with this news either. Peace; out….

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If This Was An Egg, It Would Be Fried

Welcome back to the Friday Frame-Up. This week’s picture is from a few months back, taken in my neighbour’s yard. I’ve got two reasons for posting this today. The first reason is that it’s pretty cute. Don’t believe me? Then take a look:

See? I love how all these colours interact with each other.

The other reason is a little sillier. Tonight we were discussing how hot it’s been lately. It’s been so warm that when you pour water on the cement, it evaporates super quickly. We’re talking all traces of the moisture disappearing in under 2 minutes. So, that of course begged the question- if you cracked an egg on the sidewalk, would it fry?

This flower looks like a fried egg.

See? I told you that it was a silly reason. But did it make you smile? I hope so.

Going through my recent photos has really brought home how long it’s been since I’ve done a proper photo shoot. I’m hoping to get out on the 4th of July and get some fresh pictures to feature here.

Have a wonderful Friday, and I’ll be back later this weekend with some fresh Starbucks stories!

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Temper Tantrums

If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen- don’t just make the kitchen “invitation only”.

As a blogger, you open yourself up to encouragement and praise, but you also make yourself a target for criticism and critique. I write each and every post with the nagging mindset that anyone can read this. So far, my readers have been wonderfully encouraging but I know that I may have critics at some point.

Thus, I’m careful not to write anything that I am annoyingly passionate about, and nothing deeply personal. That’s just setting yourself up to feel hurt and abused.

I follow about 50+  blogs; some are corporately minded, some are photo blogs, and some are a mere whisper away from a tell-all private diary. In one of those diary blogs, this young person spilled their guts (yet again) about their “newfound” purpose in life. By doing so, they completely put down their current vocation in a harsh and hurtful manner. It was completely unprofessional.

In the comments, one of the blogger’s readers called them out on the hurtfulness and immaturity of their post. This commenter was firm, but very kind in their rebuke. They said only what needed to be said and nothing more. They ended by telling the blogger that they loved them.

Before the end of the week, this blog became “invitation only”. Hmmmm.

Coincidence? I think not.

I understand that criticism hurts. I get that when you are flush in your newfound “calling in life”, then the last thing you want is for someone to pull you up short. But, listen to your readers. This commenter is a personal friend of the blogger; they’ve known each other for some time. If your friends are telling you that you’re not living up to your goal in life, then maybe that should be a wakeup call to take a step back and assess where you are. It’s not a call to get defensive and block all but a choice few readers.

So like I said before- if you can’t stand the heat, stop blogging now. You’ll only save yourself a world of hurt and pain. The world isn’t going to get kinder. People aren’t going to become more tolerant of your dreamy-eyed ideals. It’s happened once, it can happen again. It’s time to face the music, accept the comment, and move on.

Ironically, this blew up into a bigger deal than it had to be. To gracefully acknowledge the comment and move on with the blog would have been the mature decision; in a few days, the whole situation would have blown over. Instead, every time I see a link to the now-private blog, that situation comes leaping to mind. It was a bad call, if I’m being honest.

It’s never healthy to surround yourself with “yes” people. We all know the type: any question you ask them, they tell you what you want to hear. “Does this chartreuse and grey zig-zag striped dress suit me?” “Yes!” “Did you enjoy my apricot and tomato risotto?” “Yes!” “Should I quit school to join the circus?” “Yes!

See? It’s just not healthy.

So, there are a few lessons to be learned:

  1. Accept constructive criticism. Not that I think you should change everything about yourself because one person thinks you should; use common sense. However, most of us could do with a bit of improvement, so be open.
  2. Don’t post deeply personal thoughts online. No matter how much you may want to share your epiphany, don’t just spew out your latest thoughts. You are much more likely to react emotionally to a negative comment.
  3. Just be smart. Don’t be the kind of person where “no thought goes unpublished.” Wait, think, then act.

That’s all.

Comments? Compliments? Criticisms? Leave them on the link to the left!

Wee bit of housekeeping here. Sorry for the third blog design in a month; I promise that this one will stick around for a while. I’ve been waiting almost a year for a design like this: readable, light, and girly without being “too much.”

A few things moved around, but it should be straightforward. Don’t forget; if you want a nice little email when I post, just put it under “Be In the Know” and hit submit (look up and right!). I’ll make sure that you are kept in the loop!

–MissW

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Sunday At Starbucks

It all started with getting up at 8:30 am on Father’s Day. Wait, let’s have a little more background first.

I’m not an overly complicated person; I simply know how I like things. Sometimes this means that I do things myself, so that they are done correctly. Other times, it means that I have to leave my final destination in the hands of others and navigate them as clearly and simply as is humanly possible.

Too, I’d like to preface my remarks with the acknowledgement that Sunday mornings at Starbucks can be horrendous. I’m aware of this fact, and always adjust my expectations accordingly. However, I’m also a good judge of what is busy, normal, and slow. Just so we’re clear.

Now, let’s try this again:

It all started with getting up at 8:30 am on Father’s Day. Dad’s choice for lunch was Olive Garden, which opens at 11 am. Thus, in order to get in at the first seating, we had to go to early service. (To be honest, Dad is an early bird who would always prefer to go to 9 am church. Mum and I are night owls. We compromise. Late service it is! But I digress….) So, I’m up early, dressed, make-up on, and I think I even found my right mind! It was a little Father’s Day miracle.

Church was wonderful. The great news is that we were finished with service by 10:15. The bad news is that we were done by 10:15. Olive Garden, if you remember, opens at 11. What to do, what to do?

Oh. How about running to Starbucks?

Hurt me.

So, off we toddle to the nearest Starbucks. Allow me to stress that THIS IS NOT MY STARBUCKS. We good? Okay!

Three of us have traditional orders: Iced Grande Sweetened Green Tea. Tall Vanilla Bean Frappuccino. Iced Venti No Classic Dark Cherry Green Tea Lemonade (it sounds harder than it is). Only one order requires any sort of special attention, so we started there. I needed to mark out 1/2 pound of Three Region Coffee before my benefit expired Sunday night. I’m here, let’s do it now. So, I grab my 1/2 pound and join my family in line.

Okay, this is not my Starbucks. However, I’m in here enough that all the baristas are (or should be, at least) familiar with me. Besides, my family is standing together as a group. Four of us. Just keep that in mind for later.

It’s our turn to order, and I take the ordering/paying lead for several reasons:

1. I’m the barista; it’s literally my job.

2. I’ve got the discount numbers.

3. It’s Father’s Day- no way Dad is paying for our drinks!

First things first. I hand my 1/2 pound to the barista (after smiling and saying hi), and tell her that it’s my markout. Once that’s taken care of, I ask her if she’d be willing to grind it (which they should offer anyway), and if she would brew me a pourover- tall in a grande cup.

For future reference, I’m looking to receive the middle-sized cup containing only the amount of liquid that would fit in the cup to the left. That’s what “tall in a grande” means. The cup to the right is called “venti.” There’s your barista lesson for the day! Oh, and remember what a venti looks like, okay?

Here’s where the visit begins to go awry:

Snag 1: This barista’s worked for the company longer than I have, and she looked at me blankly. Pour over? How does that go again? She looks at her shift, and asks him how to grind and measure for a pour over.

Snag 2: He looks at her as if she’s grown 3 heads. Pour over? Paper filter?

At this point I jump in: you grind for a cone filter. Ahhhhhhh; faces clear up, concern vanishes- this is doable!

Snag 3: Barista comes back. Do I know how much coffee to use? But of course.

Then she disappears. The shift disappears. She reappears. My coffee (bag and brewed) does not. Okay, we’ll give it some time. She hits total. I say I have more drinks. She takes my first drink order. She hits total. I tell her there are more drinks. She takes my next drink order. She hits total. I tell her there’s another drink order (anyone else remember that my family of four was with me? Okay, good.). She disappears. Shift reappears. Other baristas are bustling around. New barista comes on to the floor. My barista is still missing. Customers look at me like I’m the reason the line isn’t moving. I’ve my money in hand; where’s my barista?

Finally, she returns with cups. Crisis averted; I pay.

Vanilla Bean Frappuccino up!

Iced Sweetened Green Tea up!

Iced Dark Cherry Green Tea Lemonade up!

….

….

….

….

….

No 3 Region- bag or brew. Shift won’t make eye contact. Register barista won’t make eye contact.

….

….

….

….

….

I mozy to the other end of the bar, and visually locate their pour over. There’s the 3 Region; it’s done brewing, all ready to go. Two steps behind the counter, and it could be mine! But I’m nicer than that. I continue to wait for my coffee.

….

….

….

….

….

….

Now, granted there was a steady stream of customers, but nothing this store can’t handle. For goodness sake, our store could handle this level of business with 2 people, and they have 6!

Still, I wait patiently (in view of the baristas in hopes of giving a visual cue to them.)

….

….

….

….

….

….

I finally give up. I go over to the family’s table, slump over, and beg Dad to go ask for the brewed coffee. He comes back with….

….

….

….

….

a full Venti. Pop quiz: does anyone here remember what I requested? Yes, that’s right; a tall in a grande cup.

*facepalm*

I’m angry at this point. Incensed. All I wanted was a little bit of coffee brewed, coffee which I provided. Did they listen? They did not.

I still don’t have my 1/2 pound of coffee back.

We sit for a while in the cafe, because believe it or not we did still have a bit of time left to kill. As we left, I went over (business is dead now), and asked the barista if I could get the rest of my markout that they didn’t brew. She blinks; she doesn’t know where it went.

I ask the shift; he looks at me like I’m trying to cheat the company. Ummm, he guesses that would be okay. (Remember, this is MY coffee benefit that I earned, paid for with MY numbers. I’m really not cheating at all- the coffee belongs to ME.) He pours the ground coffee into my bag, and I finally escape.

Annoyed.

Very, very annoyed.

This is the kind of Starbucks experience that gives Starbucks a bad name; this is what some people think of when they hear the word “barista.”

It’s sad, to say the least. No star skills were showing ; there wasn’t even the common courtesy of assuming that a fellow partner knows what she’s talking about when she asks for a certain brew. Lest you all think that I was being a pain, allow me to remind you that nothing here was complicated: they chose to make it complicated. I think I was nice too; I waited patiently, I tipped them, and I used my best manners. I even complimented them on their hand-drawn signage.

So, sheesh.

I’d like to take a minute to personally apologise to anyone for whom this is a “typical” Starbucks experience. If I found it frustrating (and I understand Starbucks), how much more maddening must it be for you all?

There’s a simple solution here: everyone in the world should come to my Starbucks when I’m working. I’ll treat you all correctly!

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HFD!

Dear Dad- Thanks for being the greatest Dad ever! I’m so thankful that you are in my life. :)

Your daughter- Miss W

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Just Pretty

I’m pretty worn out this week- it’s been a long few days, with a few more long days to come. If you all don’t mind, I’m keeping the Friday Frame-Up simple and sweet. Enjoy the picture- it’s one that I snapped a few weeks ago, but something about it really appeals to me.

I love taking pictures of flowers: unless you are in Wonderland, they rarely move on you!

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Deep Fried ‘n Glazed Memories

Aside from the random doughnut I eat on shift or bring home at the end of the night, I’ve not had a good doughnut in forever (yes, that was a little dig at Starbucks’ doughnuts).

When I say good doughnuts, I’m referring to the incomparable taste of hot now, fresh, Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

Bliss.

My first memories stem from 1st grade. I went once a week to art class and music class, and the biggest treat was to stop for fresh doughnuts on the way home. It was especially wonderful if it was raining outside during the doughnut-making process; the combination of cold and wet outside with warm and soft inside was just heaven.

For those of you poor, poor people who have never had a chance to visit, Krispy Kreme is no ordinary doughnut shop. They make their doughnuts on-site, and their stores are known for having huge picture windows where you can watch the freshly-cooked doughnuts be covered in glaze and boxed up. When this process is occurring, a light goes on outside:

Yeah, it’s pretty amazing.

My next memory is from a few years ago. It’s not the greatest memory, but even this can’t diminish my love for these special pieces of fried dough. Suffice it to say, four people should not split a dozen Krispy Kremes on otherwise empty stomaches before going in to see an IMAX Dome presentation of “Extreme.”

Moving on.

Over the last year, one of my wonderful coworkers would bring fresh, hot Krispy Kremes to Bible Study on the mornings she had snack duty. Wow, my mouth is watering.

What, your mouth isn’t watering? Oh, let’s do something about that.

That’s better.

Okay, last memory is of this Christmas. As a special surprise for the family, my little brother purchased a voucher for a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts for our Christmas morning breakfast. Well, wouldn’t you know that the “land of no Internet” is also the land that Krispy Kreme forgot. So, we instead had them when we came home and did our traditional “January Stocking Exchange.” They were so good!

There you have it, some of my favourite childhood doughnut memories.

Eh, let’s end with a kick, shall we?

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This Is How I Feel

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been on a website periodically doing research for a post. All well and good, but this particular site happens to be a social/threaded site. Clarification: a social website with opinionated and seriously uncaffeinated (or over-caffeinated) people.

My blood pressure steadily rises the longer I’m on there.

I’m trying to not visit there much now; I’ve pretty much gleaned everything I could ever want to know (and then some). However, I wanted to share this comic with you, dear readers, since it sums up how I’ve felt these past weeks.

See what I suffer for this blog? ;) I only hope the the post is worth it. I’ll have it up in a few weeks!

Many thanks to the incomparable xkcd for summing up my feelings!

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Breaking News!

Starbucks to offer free, unlimited wifi starting in July! Apparently, those silly people don’t read my blog at all. Let’s review why this is a bad, bad, horrible idea:

1. Starbucks card sales will drop. Let’s face it, the real perk is the free wifi. No one really cares about syrup and milk. Birthday drinks/free drinks, yes, but wifi is the big draw.

2. Many much people sitting in the cafe without buying anything. Ummmm, dearest Corporate, our stores are small. We have 9 tables, total. Free loading laptop users like a table per laptop. We have lots of regulars. Where are they supposed to sit??????

3. Quality. It’s just not gonna stay good. Which is the pits, because I was hoping to break free of my room senior year and get to Starbucks to study. That’s not going to happen if I can’t rely on the wifi signal. Bummer.

4. Speaking of college; how ’bout those poor college students? Think they will buy a drink before homesteading all day by the laptop? Nope, not a chance.

5. Forget about being the “third place”, an “extension of your living room.” We will rename our cafe “Where business people come to hold meetings where they take up tables for hours without buying anything talk loudly and leave trash everywhere because they don’t have a proper office.” I think it’s catchy, don’t you?

Okay, readers, open forum. Thoughts, input, good or bad. Can you convince me that this is good for the company? Have at it!

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