Thursday, April 17, 2014

My brilliant career

I've been working for a big coffee company for a year now.  It's around the corner from my house, the hours are very flexible, I have access to stock options and 401K benefits and when I leave work, I leave work.  No taking it home with me, or late night projects.

Does it have it's stress?  Yes.  I work the morning rush shift, so we're under pressure to get as many orders filled in as short a time as possible.  But I like my co-workers and my customers.  We have a bunch of regulars.  Neil, Terry, Nancy, Dennis, Will, Mike, Guillaume, Caroline,  Nate, Juan and a lot of others I could only identify by their drink of choice.  There's grande, no water, extra hot, 7 pump chai.  Then venti caramel macchiato with light foam and a newspaper.  Tall non-fat, no whipped cream, white mocha is a pharmaceutical rep who gets 8 pastries of whatever is easy for us to grab.  There's quite a few more I would recognize and be able to tell you their order but I couldn't tell you their names.  They could tell you mine, because I wear a name badge.  I've been told when I was out of town some of them asked where I was.  That's a nice feeling. 

My day looks something like this:

3:15-3:30 a.m. Wake up, make coffee, get dressed, make kids' lunches, gather my stuff and out the door by 4:10 a.m.

4:15 a.m. Arrive at work and get started. I fill the pastry case with the goodies we're offering that day.  We're partnering with another company now, so the case has to be set up exactly the way our picture shows.  One of the challenges when we swapped over to the new display was the fact that the picture I have is a mirror image of the way I'm supposed to do it.  I've got it pretty much down and now I'm working on getting my speed up.  I do a quick heat on the savory hot sandwiches so the cheese around the edges melts and they get toasty on the top before I display them.

Then I get the refrigerated case filled with sandwiches, bistro boxes, juices and yogurts. 

Once that's done, I make myself a 4 shot, vanilla latte, iced but with no ice.  I drink this quickly through a straw and get the sandwiches we heat up organized into the small fridge under the ovens. 

Generally, this takes about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes.

5:30 a.m.  I make sure that there are dates on everything that needs to be dated and all the pastries we don't heat up are stored on the shelves close to the register.  Then I either take my break or I put on a headset and take orders at the drive through, take payments at the window and pass out drinks.  Sometimes I make the drinks too.  It depends on how busy we are. 

In between orders, I help make sure that all stations have what they need for the morning rush.  Do all the espresso stations have the syrups, toppings, lids and stuff they need?  Does the drive through window have enough pre-packaged oatmeals ready to have hot water added?  Are there plenty of sugars, sweeteners and oatmeal toppings?  Does the small fridge by the window have yogurts, bistro boxes, bottles of water and yogurts?   Does the warming station have the proper amount of pastry bags and tongs?  Do the sticker machines work?  (when we enter an order, a sticker prints out like in a restaurant back of house.  If the stickers aren't printing it makes all of us working run around waving our arms in a panic.)

6:30 a.m. This is where our business really starts to ramp up. We'll have customers at the speaker steadily, I'll take orders and payments, but someone else will make drinks. 

7:00 a.m.  By this time I'll have taken off my headset and will be working the window taking payments and giving out the morning mickeys.  Here is where we have to really focus on our speed. 

We have a screen above my register showing the cars in line from the speaker to the window.  If they have been waiting for less than 3 minutes, the car is green.  Waiting for longer than 3 minutes, the car is yellow.  4 minutes or above, the car is red.  Red and yellow cars make us nervous.  All green cars with an average wait time of 34-36 seconds at the window is a good place to be.  

Our goal is to have 50 completed transactions in 30 minutes. That's 1 every 36 seconds.  Hitting a high 40 for a half an hour is okay.  Hitting 50 is good.  55 is great.  The record for our store is 59.  There are things I don't have any control over that effect our wait times. A customer fo-diddling around with their stuff at the window, having to dig around for their payment, adding things at the window, a lot of customers inside ordering warmed up items and other stuff will also slow our wait time down.  Plain coffee is the quickest drink we can get and lots of those will allow us to crank a lot more cars through in 30 minutes. 

 I've noticed that on payday, and the few days following, we'll get a lot more pricey orders and I'll receive larger bills as payment.  The days just before payday, more plain coffees and I'm paid with more coins. 

My job is to check the screen that tells me what order is coming up, make sure that's the one in my hand and be ready to give it to my customer.  I hand it out the window while they pass me their payment.  I make change or swipe their card and send them on their way. 

Sometimes they'll need to wait a minute or so and I make small talk.  Then they get their caffeine and I send them on to work.

If we get a big order, 4 or 5 drinks in one car, that will make our wait time go up and we'll focus on going as fast as we can for the next 10-20 minutes to catch back up.  If we have a customer order several items that need to be warmed up, that will slow things down as well. 

I'll man the window, making sure to communicate with the person making the drinks and the person taking orders if I have an issue, such as a drink added at the window, or a drink that needs to be re-made.

We have a customer that sends her drink back to be re-made about every 3rd or 4th time she gets it.  It's made exactly the same every time, but she sends it back.

I usually spend the rest of my shift on the window.  Generally, I'm off by 10 or 11 a.m.

I've seen some fun stuff at the window.  New Year's Day a girl in her micro-mini dress from the night before with her make up all smudge couldn't make her phone work in order to pull up her store card for me to scan.  After a few minutes, I comped her her drink and told her Happy New Year.  I refer to that as "The Drive of Shame."   

The man who pulled up and let a nice sized puff of marijuana smoke out his window as I handed him his big, extra caramel drizzle, extra whipped cream, three flavored frappuccino.  He took a sip and groaned with pleasure. 

The man who ordered 4 espresso shots and then blew into his built in breathalyzer while I was making change. 

I see a lot of women putting on make up.  I see a lot of people int their p.j.s and bathrobes.  I see women in curlers.  I see men brushing their teeth. 

Because I live around the corner from where I work I see customers at the grocery store quite often.  We say hi and we'll see each other later.  I've introduced my son to a few of them. 

Those of you who know me in real life know I just gotta talk.  Our regulars know we have a new dog, that my daughter plays harp, my husband makes video games, I take pictures and I'm saving for a new tattoo.  (If you'd like to contribute just tell me!  I'll send you my Paypal info. :D  )

Once I've clocked out, I get myself a coffee to take home.  I'll chill out for a while then take a nap. 

Then my after school days starts.  But that's another post.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  If you live in a hot climate and your nail polish separates, keep it in the fridge. 

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