Saturday, August 17, 2013


I've discovered, having written one post, that I have a myriad in the back of my mind that I didn't even realize were there.

I'm not sure I am actually up to writing this, but if I'm not, then I guess you won't ever see it anyway.

I started as a barista at Starbucks last year in September.  I loved it.  It was a challenge and kept me engaged and focused.  My training was not so much training as: HERE GO.  Since then we've gotten much better at training, but I tend to learn best from doing, so it worked out for the best I would say.

In December, I got asked by two of my shift supervisors if I was interested in learning how to become a shift supervisor.  After some thought, I said yes.  My official training began really in February.  And when I say training, I mainly mean the long process of becoming a shift.  There was a new set of skills, not generally expected of baristas, that I was expected to learn.  And it was difficult, but it was also an engaging challenge.

At the end of May I got the green light to be promoted.  I was promoted in-store, which is not actually how promotions generally work.  It's typically considered hard to be promoted in-store because the baristas who used to be your peers, frequently won't respect you as a superior.  That wasn't a problem I really encountered.  The majority of the baristas (7 of 9) were actually people I ended of training (we had a lot of both growth and turn over this year) so they were used to me having authority.

The problem I have been having is when I was promoted.  I think I was ready.  I have the knowledge base.  However, the week I began my training as a shift supervisor (so early June), my store manager left.  I could probably do an entire post of what made her the best boss I've ever had, but suffice it to say, she was the best boss I've ever had.  The week after my training finished, one of our shift supervisors left (our store is supposed to have three, so we were left with two and me).  A month later, another of our shift supervisors left to become assistant store manager for my old store manager at her new store.  We still have not replaced the second shift supervisor to leave.

If this weren't enough, my store manager is getting married (actually, her wedding is this weekend), so all of her attention has been on wedding planning and not on the store.  On top of that, my training was never formally completed.  You see, the last three days of my scheduled training, my trainer (the shift who left to become an assistant store manager) was incredibly sick, so I just ended up running the floor and doing the best I could.  And really, it's been like that ever since then.  I was expected to have the capabilities of a fully trained shift supervisor in an understaffed store under a brand new store manager.  Please someone tell me what's wrong with that picture.

So I just dealt with it, as I always do.  I didn't realize that it was something that I just couldn't deal with until I started breaking down and crying after every shift.  I hit my breaking point and then was pushed beyond it and didn't know how to fix it.  I wanted to quit.  I almost did quit.  I have never been so close to just leaving work and going home and not coming back.

What I haven't explained yet is that these details are just the setting for the scene.  Because the point that really pushed me was that when my manager came in she changed everything.  She was used to working on a different system than we used and she just wanted everything to be her system.  But my store doesn't know her system and isn't due to be taught it until February, so we have now been reduced to running this sad crippled, half and half system, where no one is quite sure what they're doing.  She moves everything in the store constantly and doesn't tell anyone where she put it and more importantly doesn't tell them whether that's its permanent new home or if it just got put there by accident.  Everyone has a very different work schedule now and sometimes people are scheduled for things that just don't make sense (we are required by law to give someone a lunch after five hours of work, so scheduling someone for five and a half hours of work is just stupid).  Since I trained most of the baristas, they come to me with their problems and the fact that they are just completely demoralized.  I can only think of two baristas who have not expressed a desire to quit.  And having that weight put on me by baristas just added to everything else.

I talked with my store manager for four hours one day, but I don't think she got how dire it was.  All the advice I was given by family was to stick with it, even though by that point I knew I couldn't deal with it any more.  I have a very strong sense of self and I know when I'm at my breaking point.  Earlier this week, I talked with my manager again and asked her for a transfer.  She agreed, but said it would take time.

She's off on her wedding vacation now and suddenly things are better.  We're allowed to run things according to how we know is correct and don't have someone breathing down our neck constantly.  Even though we are thoroughly understaffed, minus a shift and a manager, it suddenly seems like I can handle it.

And now I finally have hope again.  I didn't realize it, but I had lost hope.  When I finally was able to express that fact to my manager, it was like a weight was lifted.  I had no hope that things would get better.  No hope that it would ever end.  No hope that I would be able to escape.  And it's a horrible thing, one I had never experienced before.  The fact that I have been told I can transfer, even though it's in the future, gave hope back to me.  On Thursday I had the wonderful feeling for the first time in over a month that maybe I would be able to stay at my store after all.

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