Susan's Blog

Friday, April 3, 2009


I used to love the Washington Square Brookline Starbucks. I did not care that they were a chain. This one was one of my favorite coffee places; probably my second favorite. Peet’s in Coolidge Corner is my absolute first, hands down. They are real, even if they are a little fake, because there are fewer Peet’s so you don’t get jaded by them. Second of all, they have better coffee. And third of all and most important, they have nice baristas.

But they are too far away from where I go on Friday afternoons. So I went to this one and we could always find a little table, and the barista was a lovely young man, and there were regulars I recognized, and it was my own little Cheers minus the annoying Cliff and Norm and Carla. This is the Starbucks that has the menacing turkey living nearby, but even that did not stop us from gobbling up their food and coffee.

Every Friday, Nat and I would go to this Starbucks while Ben had a regular appointment up the street. He would go in and he would look in the pastry case and decide what he wanted to eat. And then he would tell the barista. “Chalk-Chih Cookie, PLEASE!” The former barista was so great, he understood, and he would be courteous; he clearly appreciated Nat’s business. I always tipped a dollar for a $3 snack. Who cares? Kindness is priceless.

The new barista is an expressionless meanie. He doesn’t say thank you, he hardly waits for Nat to finish ordering, he put the water on the counter without a lid and just basically acted like we were bothering him.

Wash. Sq. Starbux (or Washed Up Starsucks, as they shall hereafter be known), closed for a week: bad already. I had to go somewhere else with Nat. Very, very bad. But he was wonderful about it. Plus that week I was with Aunt La (my sister Laura) and cousin Kimmie, some of his faves.

So Washed Up Starsucks reopened to some fanfare and we went in. Beautiful sea-green sparkly pearly tiny classy tiles all along the back filled my eyes, and I was happy. But then, oh then. I noticed that about half the tables and chairs were gone! Gone! In a Starbucks! Where there are never enough seats anyway! Oh, there are plenty of people with laptops and coffee cups that have been empty for hours, while two loyal customers loaded with treats had to stand there, while one of us kept saying in rising autistic panic, “Sit in chair sit in chair.” Then I, in rising neurotic-Susan panic, started to say loudly, “I know Natty, they changed it! There are no seats for us!”

And then there appeared two chairs against the far wall, near the bathrooms (we never sit there but now we were so glad to), without even a table.

Now, I said I was neurotic. Well I heard laughing in the backroom where the baristas hang out or cook or wash up. And I just had this feeling that this new mean one was laughing at us. Of course I have no evidence. But I just had this feeling and I could no longer even sit there. I was glaring at them, daring them to laugh my way. Oh, just give me the opportunity, New Barista Man… Even without the opportunity, I rose from my chair, shaking, and I was ready and willing to say, “I am NOT coming back here! You are mean.” (Not very inspiring, but very much to the point.)

But, Nat was ready to go, and he just strode over to the door, throwing his trash away like the good citizen he is, and we left. I was fuming so much Nat was looking at me with concern. I yelled at cars who would not let us cross even though it was raining. I slammed myself down in my chair and closed my eyes.

I came home and I poured myself a glass of wine, and said to Max, “I am going to blog that fucking place.”

So now I feel better. But where will we go next week?


Sometimes anger makes me see crooked.

— added by Kent on Friday, April 3, 2009 at 9:37 pm

Stupid, stupid Starbucks baristas. Not very inspired either, but I’m tired and that’s all the support I can muster.

Mean people suck.

— added by Jeannie on Friday, April 3, 2009 at 10:33 pm

I, too, am beyond exasperated and exhausted with people who don’t “get it.”

Some days, I wonder if *I* am going to survive until my son is an adult. Congratulations to you for having done so!

Soon-to-be unemployed Mother to Jakob (ASD) and Autumn (DD), five years old

— added by Susan on Saturday, April 4, 2009 at 12:16 am

I get some satisfaction, in situations like those, in talking to the manager about their loser employees with bad attitudes (I'd call 'em later). Even better? Getting onto their corp site & shooting them an email and telling them what store that happened in. It's especially pertinent in this economy when Starbucks is hurting. In Seattle, I get coffee every single day in a little espresso place; I won't touch Starbucks, and my kiddos (one with ASD, one without) are always with me, and the baristas always very kind. One of them even babysits my kids!

The littler businesses are always kinder, I think. Do you have any mom-pop coffee places you could try? Bet they'd love your business!

— added by redheadmomma on Saturday, April 4, 2009 at 2:24 am

Bad, bad barista.

What the heck did they do with the chairs. Do they really need all the floor space?

— added by Someone Said on Saturday, April 4, 2009 at 8:01 am

Here in LA, I run into lots of people behind various counters with this attitude. It used to drive me crazy when my friendly, smiling face was met with a blank, apathetic stare so now I make myself feel better by filling in their empty air-time with an excuse (to myself, of course) that I think is fitting for them. For example, for the young woman at the Barnes and Noble coffee shop last week, my thought on her behalf was, “What do expect? I wanted to be an actress but I’ve got a fat ass and bad skin!” It’s kind of cruel, but it gives me a laugh to myself and it also makes me feel a little empathy for them as opposed to being angry at them and ruining my mood!
xo, stacey

— added by Anonymous on Saturday, April 4, 2009 at 10:57 am

Loved this post. You got a laugh all around here when I read this out loud.

— added by toadysmom on Saturday, April 4, 2009 at 2:15 pm

Thank you, all so much for understanding!!! And now, I’m going to toast you all with a fresh cup of (Peet’s) French roast, half-caf (out of respect for Neddy who can’t take caffeine the way neurots like I can.

— added by Susan Senator on Saturday, April 4, 2009 at 2:43 pm

The only good thing is Jarrett is able to say I’m autistic give me break!!! He also has a mommy invention that we call sound survival because sometimes noise is too much for him. It’s an old camp id pouch with a pin that read Hello! I am autistic. Please have patience and another that says I am autistic. Noise bothers me. Be quiet please. The other side has zipper pockets where we keep earplugs and excedrin for his migraines. (see for pins and cool t-shirts. I have one that says Yes, my son is autistic. No, he’s not like rainman.) I am sick to death of people who are indifferent and just plain mean. I am a cashier at a convience store and go out of my way to treat everyone nicely especially regular customers. I don’t understand what happened to things like patience and common courtesy.

— added by cameramom on Sunday, April 5, 2009 at 10:40 am

I know I am probably alone in this opinion, but I couldn’t stand Starbucks the first time I went one and that was over ten years ago. It is an overpriced, pretentious (without reason) and boorish place with some of the snootiest, rudest, self-impressed, employees I have ever seen. One time was enough for me. When I have to, I go through the drive through to get a chocolate chip thing when my daughter insists on having one, but I’ll be darn if I’ll set foot in one. Any time that you are treated in any business in such a disrespectful manner, simply turn and walk out. And, possibly complain to the manager, but in a Starbucks the manager probably couldn’t care less anyway. Find yourself some other place, somewhere, anywhere. You and especially Nat deserve better.

— added by Sharon L. on Monday, April 6, 2009 at 12:57 pm

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