Over at The Awl, Molly Osberg examines the service economy and recounts her experience working as a barista at various coffeehouses. Here, she discusses dealing with difficult customers:
I transferred stores twice, and though I wouldn’t recognize it until later, there was already something uniquely banal about my interactions with the customers at Starbucks. The robotic and infinitely scaleable details, our uniforms and employee numbers, the pre-calibrated automatic espresso machine, all contributed to a general sense of interchangeability. I had exhausting customers, but their demanding nature didn’t feel personal. I had no doubt the pudgy businessman would have told any woman where to put that whipped cream, or that the undergraduate with the fancy handbag, detailing last night’s party to a friend on the phone, was the kind of girl who would’ve shouted down any one of her servers for ostensibly placing a half-pump more white mocha in her beverage. If a customer was particularly bad we exercised one of the only powers we possessed and “decafed” them. To covertly rob a caffeine-addicted asshole of their morning jolt was truly one of the sweetest pleasures of baristahood, and one that my subsequent professions haven’t come close to replicating.