As a contributor of this blog, I'm formally calling my postings as "Latte Breaks." Consider it my release for the irrationalities and logic-defying moments I experience everyday especially the escapades at work. As some of you may know, I am a barista/shift supervisor at Starbucks. I work in an area that caters to one of the wealthiest customer base in SoCal. On a regular basis I see customers in SLKs, CLKs (all AMG badged btw), Ferraris, Bentleys, Maseratis, & Lambos roll by for some espresso drinks. Although I still consider them all classy and exotic, I run into them so much that I don't get as excited as I used to. They're my norm. Now and then celebrities do come by. Then there's the regular run-of-the-mill customers and finally the homeless people.
Ahh the homeless people. I have no ill-intent towards homeless people. There are a few I've actually befriended and they're down-to-earth. What we all forget sometimes is that they are like you and I. It's just that sometimes circumstances in life permit them to a dreadful life. I've had the opportunity to talk to a guy that explained that he has a kid but was separated from his wife. She left him with nothing and ever since then he's been living on the streets. He hasn't seen his kid since she was 12 and he'd once carried a picture of her but it became so worn out that he wasn't able to see her face anymore. For some, sadly they devolve from being coherent to the most derange people you'd ever encounter. Interestingly enough, every homeless person is unique. I've never encountered two that were practically the same.
Now here comes the part that may make me sound insensitive. I only validate what I say because the homeless people that come in and make a job harder are usually the crazy ones. The kind that no longer exhibit any fiber of humanity and are incoherent. For normal homeless people, I allow them to come in and chill as long as they're not bothering anyone. I find myself more compassionate then some considering my co-workers tend to ask me to kick them out once they're through the door. More than a few actually do buy a cup of coffee. First of all, I want to point out that homeless b.o. all smell the same. I'd be at the espresso bar making drinks. Someone opens the door and a this whiff of b.o would blow in full force and creep up my nose. I'd feel a burning sensation in my nasal cavities followed by a sour expression by my face. It's tolerable should it happen once in a while. However, this is on EVERY shift. Not once, not twice.... many instances in one day. Regardless of how long I've been working there I'm still not use to it. The previous day a homeless guy came in to sit for a couple of hours. I wasn't working when he was there, however, I did come in a couple hours later. As I'm doing the usual lobby check/cleaning, I smelled something familiar. It was isolated in one area of the store and it was still alive. But no one was there! It stuck around for awhile and even thought the store was packed, the area where the b.o. lingered was empty. Unfortunately it was near the entrance and we've lost a few potential customers that day. Funniest thing I've seen in awhile. A customer would walk in, stand still, bulge their eyes, look around, and walk out.
When I first started working I was hesitant to interact, nevertheless, confront a crazy homeless person. Even my manager was hesitant himself. After becoming callous from all the crap I get from customers and the hostilities of homeless people, nothing really phases me anymore. Considering it bittersweet, I can deal with anyone with zen like patience and calm demeanor. Usually when a homeless person comes into the store and bothers everyone, who does everyone come up to for help? Unfortunately me. I've been threaten many times. On two separate occasions two different homeless guys threaten to kill me. I responded with: "That's nice to know, but you are clearly making the customers uncomfortable. I need you to leave." I've been spat at but luckily I had decent reflexes to avoid getting hit.
Anyways, that's it for today. Next time I'll talk about barista pet peeves and what you can do to ensure a barista doesn't @#$! up your drink because he doesn't like you. XD
Signed "What is that f'n smell?! - Tonster