Steamy Starbucks Memories…with Extra Caramel!

I recently read an article about Starbucks and their “for a limited time only” reusable holiday cups.  Apparently “for a limited time only” means running out within the first hours of a Starbucks location – ANY location – opening its doors in the morning.  I want to say don’t get me started but, here I am, getting started.  First World Problems of the Ultra-entitled.

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Can this be the part where I tell you I have worked for Starbucks in the past?  And that I absolutely hated it?  In the end I detested that job in so many ways that I was surprised I managed to stay there for so long.  What’s worse is I didn’t just work there once, but three different times.  Apparently I’m a glutton for punishment.

In the beginning it was fun.  At 26 years old I had gone into it with a sort of enlightened idea of what I wanted for my future.  Starbucks, I’d been told, treated its employees well (sort of true).  Pay was fair (meh).  And my coworkers were pretty awesome (3 out of 4, maybe, which isn’t bad if you think about it).  I knew I didn’t want to go back to school yet, so why not carve out a future for myself with a company that seemed – on the surface, at least – to set itself aside from other corporate retailers?

What a giant bag of dead turtles that was.

Even now Starbucks has this glittery allure about it.  Syrupy drinks drowning in whipped cream and regret.  Pretentious indie music.  Food that should be good but really isn’t. You almost don’t mind when your barista is a blue-haired twat with a snarky eye roll attached to everything you request from her.  In fact, you’ve come to expect that shitty attitude a little bit, haven’t you?  Ordering your drink from Clayton, a lanky college junior with bangs that hang to his upper lip, his skinny wrists weighed down with eight dozen cheap bracelets, chewing on a stick of Juicy Fruit when he knows damn well his Shift Leader could write him up for it.  Because Clayton is a rebel.  He doesn’t care that your daughter is in a school play or that you’re running late for your 30-minute Curves work out.  He wants you to silently know – with a flip of his hair or how he cleverly misspells your name – that his soul is being crushed to smithereens the moment you say, “Is Jessica here? She knows how to make my drink.”

Starbucks equates to status.  Face it, it does.  Would you rather lumber through Target with a Starbucks cup in your hand, every box marked with initials we have all come to understand? CRF, XWC, 1/2, 4 pumps, etc.? Or would you dare be caught with a styrofoam cup filled with the swill from a nearby AM/PM?  Yeah, I didn’t think so.  Mind you, I’m not judging – I still pop in to the occasional Starbucks for an overpriced latte, but old habits die hard.

The reusable holiday cup debacle brought all my memories of Starbucks back in a giant puff of hissing steam (“Sean, don’t forget to properly sanitize the milk steam wand,” my former bitchy co-worker, Mimi, would say condescendingly.  Fuck you, Mimi.  Fuck you.)

It’s a cup.  It’s reusable.  It’s 2 fucking dollars.  And people are getting PISSED that Starbucks ran out so damn quickly.  Too bad for you, all the Staceys and Phillips and Xaviers of the world.  Sorry you can’t get your jittery, caffeine-addicted fingers on a reusable cup that is, in fact, only reusable up to a certain point.  About 15 refills, if I remember correctly, before the damn thing starts to soften up like a pumpkin left rotting on a porch four days after Halloween.  Don’t even ask about the awful blowhards who used their damn cup until the very end of its sad, dreary, BMW-cup-holder life.  “Sir, this is going to fall apart if I fill it with hot coffee,” I’ve warned on several occasions.  “Either fill it or replace it…for free,” Skylar would retort through his porcelain veneers, just before reprimanding me for putting an E in his name instead of an A.

I learned how to perfect my eye roll working for Starbucks.

Clearly you see there is no reason for this post other than a gratuitous need to bash my experience with the company.  And I’m okay with that.  The thing is, ultimately, I’m not all that bitter about it.  I still recommend it to people looking for a part time job (be prepared, though, it’s actually hard work).  But once in a while something will get splattered on the internet that makes me cringe.  Remember the year the Starbucks holiday cup was just….RED?  And people went nuts?  Or that time they tried to #racetogether? All complete nonsense is what it is.

If your local Starbucks is out of those precious reusable holiday cups, I have a few suggestions.  Take that $2 and throw it in the tip jar.  Sure, Clayton is an asshole, but for every Clayton there is a Helen who is working part time for the health benefits, or a Sarah who is saving to get her first used car.  Take that $2 and pay it forward to the person behind you in the drive-thru, even if their drink is more ridiculously modified than your own.  Put that $2 in a donation jar at your kids’ school.  Or, for fuck’s sake, go to Peet’s Coffee, where they actually pull their espresso shots instead of hitting a button.

My point, really, is that sometimes my pessimism exceeds my optimism.  And this blog is a great place for me to get out all of my aggression.

P.S. Just so you know, if you are a regular at Starbucks, you have, at least once, been decaffed.  It’s true.  What is that, you ask?  It’s when a barista is so fed up with your shit, he or she gives you decaf shots instead of regular.  All with a smile of their faces.  Think about that the next time you or someone you know starts their order off with, “Okay, I hope you’re ready, my drink is pretty difficult!” Ugh.

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