I Worked At Starbucks Every Summer For 3 Years & These 5 Things Prove That It's The Worst

I'm still not over it.

Toronto Staff Writer
Patrick taking a photo. A Starbucks in Toronto.

Patrick taking a photo. A Starbucks in Toronto.

This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

Like most jobs, working at Starbucks had its ups and downs, except during the summer when it just plain sucks to don the green apron.

Just imagine being sticky and dehydrated with no escape — that's the Starbucks Canada experience I had on repeat every year come late June.

To give you a dose of empathy for your Starbucks barista this hot season, I thought I'd illustrate why it's a struggle in the most colourful way possible.

Whipping up the same drinks a million times a day

The vast majority of the company's iced drinks are a total chore to make, and during the summertime, that's what everyone's craving.

Not only do they take longer to put together, but when you work at a Starbucks in Toronto as I did, you get rusty at making them because no one was gulping them down during the winter.

Pretty much every year, someone at the top comes up with a new Frappuccino and baristas are expected to learn how to make it quickly.

When I worked there it was the Unicorn Frapp, which still haunts my dreams.

Baristas watch the difficulty of their jobs shift from easy to hard in a matter of weeks, which considering they aren't getting paid more — can be a tough pill to swallow.

Everything is sticky all the time

I think we can all agree that being sticky is one of the worst sensations of all time.

Over the three summers I worked at Starbucks, I often spent shifts coated in simple syrup, praying that my hours would be cut so I could go home and shower.

"My goodness!" You may be saying to yourself. "What kind of pranks were your co-workers pulling on you?" None — that's just what happens to you when you have to make fifty Frappuccinos in under an hour.

Or at least it's what would happen to me. It would start off with little splashes of the flavoured syrup on my hands. No biggie, I'm washing those all the time anyway, but then we get slammed.

At this point, I start sweating and unconsciously wiping my syrupy hands on my body and face — slowly but surely becoming a human fly trap.

You can cut your knuckles scraping ice

I can't tell you how many times over the summer of 2016, one of my friends jokingly asked me if I had joined the UFC after seeing how cut up my knuckles were.

I always said I had because, well, it sounded better than the truth, which was that I'd been scraping ice for Frappuccinos all week.

Out of all my Starbucks woes, this one is probably the least likely to be guessed in the trivia game that is my life.

However, it was a real problem. Every summer, thousands of baristas across the city have to scrape countless pieces of ice out of stainless steel pits with tiny scoopers.

I won't claim that they all have cut-up knuckles too, but during rush hour, I couldn't help but speed through everything, which often meant shoving my hand into that bin and every so slightly mangling my hand.

Bringing deodorant to work is a necessity

There was no A.C. in the Starbucks I worked at, so my co-workers and I would get drenched in sweat anytime temperatures crept above the 20-degree mark, which during summer was a lot.

To combat this, I would bring a roll of deodorant and dry shampoo to work every day to maintain my appearance. It helped a little, but at the end of my shift, I almost always looked like I'd just run a marathon and smelled like it too.

It's not a rule for Starbucks not to have central air, plenty of them do. But, the one I worked at was underneath a TD bank tower.

We were just one store of many in a sizeable food court, so, someone had the ability to cool down the space, but it wasn't us.

You can't drink water freely

Every place of business has at least one rule that's total B.S. At my Starbucks, it was that baristas couldn't drink anything on the floor.

I understand it doesn't look good when you're making yourself drinks when you could be completing other tasks. However, when your store is stifling, and your manager yells at you every time you try to sneak a sip of water, that's an issue.

No one should have to work dehydrated, period.

To be fair, this issue can largely be chopped up to a gap in our manager's judgment, as I've definitely seen other stores take a more relaxed approach.

But, the fact that it was a thing at all still grinds my gears.

I hope this article helped illustrate what it's like to be a Starbucks employee during the summertime.

Who knows, maybe you'll even think twice before walking into a store and ordering an army's worth of frappuccinos. I'd consider that a major victory.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

Patrick John Gilson
Toronto Staff Writer
Patrick John Gilson is a Staff Writer for Narcity Canada’s Ontario Desk focused on Ontario gas prices and is based in Toronto, Ontario.
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