07:20:42 pm on
Sunday 19 Nov 2017

At Their Mercy
Matt Seinberg


How many times a week do you visit a Dunkin' Donuts or Starbucks for your morning, afternoon or evening cup of coffee? On a normal day, I'll have a cup of coffee at home. If it's a bad day, I'll stop at Dunkin' Donuts on the way to work.


I missed my morning coffee and was falling asleep at work.

A couple of weeks ago, I was falling asleep at work. That day I was too afraid to stop, on my way into work, for fear I might fall asleep at the wheel. One of my friends was going to go next door to Panera; I asked him to get me a cup of coffee as well.

About 15 years ago, I hired on as a manager trainee by Starbucks. At the time, it was one of the best companies with which to work. One district manager (DM) hired me, but I worked under another DM at a store in New Hyde Park, Long Island.

The manager, April, seemed nice. Once, the cash drawer, assigned to a barista, came up short by $10. April told me it had happened before. She wrote up the barista and fired him a few minutes later. I came to see that things weren't right in that store, but didn't know with whom to discuss what I thought.

About a week later, someone robbed the store at 6 am, before it opened. Evidently, the robbers knew the store routine and made their move as soon as the key was in the door. The thieves wore masks; no true identification was possible. I believe it might be the fellow fired the week before; there’s little doubt in my mind. I don't know if April even told the police about the fired barista.

That district manager and I didn't get along to well. When it came to a 30-day review, she and April blasted me with both barrels. It seems that nothing I did was good enough for them or correct. Is this how Starbucks treats their employees? Really?

When I got home, I called Kathryn, the woman in Human Resources that had actually hired me. I left her a message about what happened and how I wasn't going to go back to that store again. I didn't deserve how I wasl treated.

About a week later, Kathryn called me. She apologized for not calling me sooner, as she had been out of town. I'm thinking to myself, didn't you ever check your voicemail?


I was paid for the week.

She told me Starbucks would pay me for that week I didn't work. As well, she said a reprimanded was in order for the DM and store manager for their behavior. She also was going to transfer me to another store, which had a very good training manager and a different DM. The bonus was it was also closer to where I lived.

Kathryn was right; the new store manager was much nicer, as was the new DM. This was also a slower store; there was plenty of training time. The problem was that I didn't like the job.

If I wanted to be a bartender, then that's what I would have done. I didn't enjoy working the cash register and making drinks. I'm not very good at memorizing that stuff, so I was quite slow. I wanted to manage a store, not make drinks; I guess my version of a store manager was completely different from theirs.

What was I to do? I had another job offer that was still open, at almost the same money, so I gave my notice. That plan didn't work out to well. It was like jumping from the pot into the fire. That job sucked even more than Starbucks.

Let's jump forward to last November. My younger daughter, Melissa, wanted a job, as she had just turned 16. She hired on at the Dunkin' Donuts down the street from us. The manager, Matt, was a young fellow, around 30 or so. His stepfather owned the store and was pretty much hands off. Matt had hired many of Melissa’s friends from school.

Things went well until March of this year; Matt passed away, unexpectedly. His sister took over for a few weeks. Then a new owner brought in two new managers; neither had much relevant experience.

Here's where it gets sticky. Matt hired primarily local high school students. The new managers hired their kin and kith, those people closest to them; the high school students were out.

One by one, Melissa's friends quit because the new management cut their hours, often dramatically. Management posted the weekly schedule only a couple of days before the new week, which caused havoc among the students. The new managers weren't paying any attention regarding when these kids could work.

Melissa gave very specific days and times she could work. Management worked her schedule for a couple of weeks. Then they gave her one shift, one day, not two or three.

This past Saturday morning, she was set to work 8 am to 3 pm. When she got there, one of the managers told her she wasn't on the schedule; she clearly was on the schedule. The manager sent her home after twenty minutes.


Melissa quit that job, rather than be demeaned.

When I got home, Melissa was very upset and asked if she could quit. I said, “Yes,” and she texted one of the managers to say said she found another job and wouldn't be coming in anymore. The manager said thank you and good luck.

Now, I can get to my point of this whole thing. If you have any brains at all, don't work at a franchised coffee shop or for a manager that doesn't appreciate what you bring to that job. Minimum wage jobs are easy to get when you're a teenager, so don't settle to working for a jerk or a bully. The one thing we both miss though is all the free coffee.

 

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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