Barista Uprise, Redux: The Starbucks Barista Strikes Back
Last Friday, we published an email from a Starbucks employee we referred to as "Barista X." She had reached out to Gawker to complain about some of the new break room policies at her franchise. We pissed all over her little rant, as did some of you noisy bastard commenters. (Some noisy bastard commenters supported her cause, too.) But Barista X, Katie Pengra, has decided to pen a follow-up for us. To Gawker. To Gawker commenters. To America. We thank her for her contribution.
I'm sorry, do you write your snarky remarks while standing?
First, thanks to everyone in the comments for your support. As for the rest of you: this was not meant to be a dick-measuring contest of whose job is harder. We get it DrGhonzho, you have a magnifying glass to your shaft and it's roughly the diameter of a Coke can. No wonder your back hurts all the time. This is not a good vs. evil scenario. It is about basic respect for employees and fellow humans.
I am Barista X—Entitled Drone. My name is Katie Pengra. I'm 26, and I work multiple jobs to pay my own way through graduate school. This is not a pat on my back or a whine for sympathy; it is simply my current situation. I've worked at a wide variety of jobs since I was 15, many of them were far worse than the time I spent at Starbucks.
The letter was not meant to bring down a company, or create an uprising, and it was not a rallying call to unionize. It was meant to express that you should never have to sit back and blindly accept dehumanizing mandates from the corporate world.
Here's the thing about working for a corporation: It's overly structured. You leave your individuality at the door. Why? Because they make it WORTH IT. Most of us would sell our souls to the devil for some decent healthcare, vacation time, and a retirement fund. So hell yes, we become drones, because they pay us to do exactly as they say for fear of losing hold of those few, tiny grips of security that they provide. But at what point do you draw the line?
Starbucks did not take away our break room; we never had a break room. We had one tiny table and two fold-out chairs in the back storage area. This is standard in any Starbucks. It was not much, but it was where we could hide next to the mop sink for a few minutes to maintain our sanity. Have you ever had a grown man scream at you because his hot chocolate was too foamy? It's ridiculous, but it's exhausting and humiliating, for all parties involved.
Long story short: This exposure helped us get our tiny table back. So, thanks to all of you who supported such a seemingly silly movement.
We all work. Sometimes it's awesome, sometimes it's brutal. My whole point is that everyone should be continually pushing for improvement. Don't blindly accept any situation, whatever it may be.
Katie Pengra no longer works at Starbucks. Follow her on Twitter at kpenguins while you drink your coffee instead.