According to my cousin, being a barista is like this generation’s sexy librarian fantasy. At first I was skeptical, because as a barista myself I don’t really understand what could possibly be attractive about my hideous black polo and huge green apron that makes me look like a 12-year-old boy. Whatever works for you I guess. I can believe her comment though, because I think working at Starbucks is the place where I’ve been asked out the most in my life. I don’t really know what to think about that, because honestly I look my worst when I’m working. I’m too lazy to put on my contacts so I’ve got my own trendy hipster glasses that scream “Hello, I’m a hipster,” and like I said the uniform doesn’t do me any favors. Yet, it’s really is the main place where I get asked out the most. It’s so odd.
This past summer I decided to stay in Boston for an internship instead of going back home. The internship was unpaid, as so many of them are unfortunately so I kept up my job at Starbucks to pay for, you know, my survival. Working 70-hour workweeks was miserable. However, the two redeeming factors of working at Starbucks that summer were that I loved my co-workers and I got a very huge self-esteem boost from getting asked out several times in that three month time period. It got to the point where my co-workers would give me crap for being too flirty. Apparently to them, friendly=flirty.
The oddest experience with a customer asking me out actually came from a professor! He was at least 15 years older than me, and a regular at Starbucks, so I was used to seeing him every shift I worked. Once I can acknowledge with a customer that we are familiar faces, I get friendlier. Instead of just saying “Hi, what can I get for you today?” I’m bold to ask how they are doing and genuinely mean it. So I was on that level with this guy. One day when we had just closed at 9 p.m., he came by the store, but we’d already locked our doors to start cleaning. We made eye contact, and I tried to signal that we’d already closed. He kept knocking on the glass door. My co-worker goes over to open the door to say that we’ve already closed, but he looks over her shoulder at me and says, “I was hoping to talk to you. How long does it normally take you guys to close the store?” It takes an hour. We close at 9 p.m., but employees don’t leave until 10 p.m. because we have to leave everything ready for the morning. He said he’d wait. He waited an hour in the RAIN at night to speak to me. I could guess what was coming.
I cleaned as slow as possible, and for the first time I experienced not wanting to leave Starbucks. Once I go outside, he instantly approached me and tried to make small talk. It’s raining, and I’d just worked a long shift so I was not in the mood to dilly-dally. I give curt responses until he decided to get to the point and ask me to dinner. I went with the classic, “I’m seeing someone” excuse. I don’t like being mean when someone has mustered up the courage to approach me and ask me out so that’s my go-to excuse. Sometimes when I use it, it’s actually true… most of the time it’s not. He looked disappointed but took it with grace, and then continued to come into Starbucks on a normal basis so that awkwardness could continue for a while. Yay…
My favorite interaction with a customer was a day when my normal 12-hour shift that I worked on Saturdays became a 16-hour shift, because a co-worker called in sick at the last minute. I was out of it. Like barely functional due to exhaustion and hunger. My lack of consciousness was even more difficult to hide, because business was slow so there was nothing for me to do but stand behind the bar and concentrate on not falling asleep. Customers noticed too. One woman even had the audacity to say to me, “You look like you need to get it together.” You can always rely on people to make you feel like worse when you already feel like shit. However, out of nowhere, when I had my head lying on the computer screen, a guy walked up to me and said the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me in my life. He just came up and said, “You know I’m really sorry you have to be here right now. You seem too smart and too beautiful to deserve to be stuck here on such a nice day and I hope you’re able to get out of work soon.” I barely had time to register what was happening before he ended and left. He didn’t ask me out or ever come back. He just said kind words without asking for anything in return.
However, my most priceless conversation about dating customers actually happened with a fellow female co-worker who was a friend. Another customer had just asked me out that day so my co-workers were playfully teasing me about it and updating her on the gossip with the whole occurrence. However, as I was sharing my take on the whole situation, she decided to share her honest opinion of me. She said, “I can’t believe another guy asked you out. I just don’t get the appeal.” This girl just called me ugly to my face. My jaw dropped. I was torn between calling her out on her rudeness, or laughing it off and moving on. I detest drama so I opted for the latter. I’d rather not stoop to her level of rudeness by being just as nasty. I just gave a small smile and went back to my job.
I don’t know what it is about baristas that could possibly be so enticing to people. I make coffee, and then I serve it to people. One of my co-workers has even started developing carpal tunnel from working at our Starbucks. There’s nothing attractive about my job description. However, my interactions with customers definitely keep the job interesting and worthwhile for me!