Well, I quit my job. I tried to hold out, tried to at least wait until I could find another one to tell them I was leaving, but this situation was impossible: my manager was a manipulative bitch, my assistant manager was a power-hungry control freak. So fuck ’em. Fuck ’em both. Customers loved the assistant manager. Some of them even hugged her. But that’s the problem. She didn’t give two shits about us. She was bossy and insisted that we follow the rules even when it made no sense. One time, I rang myself up for a free drink when I went on my break (which is an employee benefit) and, as I was about to make it, she tapped me on the shoulder and said, “I need to make it for you. That’s how it works.” No acknowledgment that I might have been used to doing it another way, not even a “Look, I’m going to let it slide this time, but next time…” Just a flat, indifferent statement of what, to her, was a fact. As I stood in my apron with the customers waiting for her to make it, I felt humiliated—dehumanized even. Never mind that it was against the rules; tell me who I was hurting.
I am always suspicious of people who follow the rules just to follow the rules. Everyone jaywalks or pirates TV shows, and if you don’t do one of those, you almost certainly do something else that is illegal but not really that big of a deal. So don’t give me any of this “The rules are there for our protection” bullshit. If I ring on somebody else’s register rather than my own, it’s because their register is closer and I don’t feel like walking fifteen feet to get a pastry. They kept putting me on a register that was off to the side of the others. I’m starting to wonder if that was intentional, to punish me, but more likely it was just because they didn’t give a shit. Keeping three registers open makes sense during peak hours, but for the guy on the third register to ring on that one only is not only inconvenient, but slows down service. So they didn’t even give a shit about customers. They just liked giving orders.
There were one or two customer complaints. One guy called in ahead of time for an order of two large cartons of coffee to take to some sort of an event. When he walked in and they weren’t ready, the assistant manager neither apologized nor instructed me to comp his order. When he told me how upset he was, I apologized, and it wasn’t even my fault. I told him to email a complaint, because that’s how little respect I have for these assholes. Towards the end of it, I wasn’t even trying to hide my contempt for them. When I walked out, I didn’t bother to give notice. Because barring a three-hour stint as a dishwasher in a pho bar (they tried to cheat me out of my money, but that’s another story), I have never felt as disrespected and unappreciated in a job as I did with this one. I’m the second person to walk out in three weeks. And I seriously doubt I’ll be the last.
I’m honestly kind of amazed that the message doesn’t seem to be sinking in. One of our shift leaders was a quiet, even-tempered fellow with a wife and son, and even he could barely restrain his desire just take off. At the time that I left, he was the only person who had been there longer than I had, which is just under a year. I imagine most coffee shops have a high turnover rate, but this is fucking ridiculous. My former manager was disorganized and inconsistent with scheduling, but he was basically a decent guy. He worked very hard to make sure we all knew that he saw us as more than just faceless automatons. The new management didn’t even try. Who the fuck told them that this was how you run a store? I know people who greatly respect the assistant manager, and I have no idea what they’re smoking. This woman has been in the coffee business for years, and on what turned out to be my last day, she asked aloud, “Why is Robot King brewing coffee instead of ringing?” She referred to me in the third person AND I WAS STANDING RIGHT THERE. Seriously, what. The. Fuck.
It doesn’t really take much to make me feel wanted. My previous manager would routinely schedule us for five hour and 45 minute shifts because giving us a six hour shift would necessitate giving us a lunch break. He was up front about it, so I didn’t mind. The new manager, on the other hand, scheduled me for a six hour shift, then, when I asked about my lunch, told me that she was just going to send me home early so she didn’t have to give me one. This was over four hours into my shift. Seems like the sort of thing I should have known going in, don’t you agree?
I could tell more stories, but what’s the point? In any job, the people you work with are more important than the work itself. I don’t care about coffee. I never did. I have the occasional mocha, but that’s about it. And yet I will miss the crew that we had when I first started out. But for my own sanity, I had to leave. Before long, I think customers will start to realize that they don’t like the store as much as they used to. They may like the new management for now, but that’s only because they work so hard to make customers like them. And as paradoxical as it sounds, that’s not how customer service works. You give the people the best you’ve got, not just whatever they ask for. But not these guys. The best they’ve got is pure shit.
I applied to another job the same day I walked out. With any luck, I’ll find something else fairly quickly. I’m perfectly capable, and what drives me nuts about this is that the new management is driving away people who actually know what they’re doing for anyone desperate and indifferent enough to put up with their bullshit. Yeah, see how long that lasts, assholes. Because one day, you will regret what you’ve done. And by then, I’ll be long gone.
I guess the takeaway here is that there are shitty people in the world. And no matter how obviously beneficial the alternative is, most will just continue being shitty. There might be hope for some of them, but only if I put my foot down and say that this will not stand. It’s all I’ve got, really. And at the very least, I now have a little bit more time for other shit. I really need to catch up on Mad Men.