Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Tennessee Trucker and Starbucks Strategy Session

It has been an uninteresting lunch. Well, abbreviated American lunch at least. Exiting my house on a business street in North NJ. It was backed up for miles. Why you might ask? A trucker with Tennessee plates had "accidently" drove under a bridge which he couldn't fit under. Wow. You would think if you know nothing else as a trucker. It would be how tall your fucking truck is. You sit in it all day. Then you drive and pause. And then you sit some more.

As I take a lunch in Starbucks to get some work done, I become mesmerized by the scene in forn ot me. 6 baristas in black attire and some kind of leader in a tan shirt are having a Starbucks training mission. Where else would Starbucks have a meeting but inside a Starbucks, drinking small sampler size cups of coffee.

Multiple scenarios are being handed out by Mr. Tan/Khaki. Scenario #1: There are 4 patrons that come in with 3 workers. How many on the bar? How many on cashier? Who is gonna float? Sounding like Dennis Hopper out of speed, what do you do? The 6 baristas have paper in pencil in hand taking notes and making diagrams so they can go home and memorize these optimization strategies.

I hear the tan man say things like "Be considerate. The basics." The tan man says when he is tired, he isn't at his best but he still must maintain the basics.

I'm sure this isn't amusing to the millions of Starbucks Baristas worldwide just like Barnes and Noble minions don't want to read books after a long day at work.

There is talk of floaters, patrons and milk. Strategy. Floaters. Patrons. Tendencies. Shift managing. Controlling the shift.

"If a spill happens and you're a floater... What do you do?" If I worked at Starbucks and someone called me a floater I would immediately quit for the insinuation that I am equal to a leftover turd. Then I'd be rehired to handle the situation. Flush the turd situation and then float over to the spill awaiting the overspill customer arrival, and assisting at the register 1.

The tan man now says he's the floater. Scenario #68. It has been 17 minutes since the accessory bar has been refilled? But there is a customer coming in." He then uses scenario-ending phrase "Where are we going?" Interesting choice of words.

"Maintain your primary position. Fulfill the situation and ideally fly to refill the situation. Anticipation is the Key. More milk is needed to heal the situation" I then proceeded to partially spit up my sip of perfectly prepared Iced Skim Caramel Macchiato by Barista Michelle.

"You don't play poker really well do you?" Man this man in tan is quite amusing. If I ever own a company in need to training sessions, the tan man will eclipse my list I can tell you that. More talk, 150 transactions an hour. Blah blah. The floater is supportive.

At least the Baristas aren't wearing name tags, meaning two things. One: the tan man is so smooth that he knows all their name. And that people can't walk up to them with snide comments and stupid questions, that will happen after their lunch hour, unpaid training session occurs. Training in retail is most often unpaid. Why should they pay to train you? You aren't making them oodles of cash, yet.

Why do I go to Starbucks? I don't know. I seem to drive there without thinking about it. I'm brainwashed. But it's an inspirational place. Shit is always going down. I'm surprised there is no series of Starbucks happenings. Of course, they would be sold exclusively at Starbucks like Alanis Morrissette unplugged CDs. But they might tarnish the image. I better forget about it before the Starbucks goons are after me.

Aww, they are on a quick 15 minute break, glaring with hatred at the tan man as he turns to them and make a call on his cell phone. The asiain chick is sipping on a fresh Iced drink. One chick chats with the fresh form his phone tan man. Spending your break time witht he tan man leads to big things. She is being groomed for shift supervisor. They are talking shift time management, peak, and partners. In 5-10 years she'll be amking at least 2 dollars more an hour, maybe evening running her own store. Right now, she is whoring her time management skills.

One worker peers out the window into a filling parking lot. This is the hell to be his life for months and possibly years ahead. Accept he won't be allowed to look outside anymore, that would cut down on floater work efficiency. He walks up to the bar to order a drink. He is trapped. In a few hours, he will be a barista.

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