David Brooks: How long have you worked at Starbucks, and what do you do there?
Will Barrett: In April, it’ll officially be five years. Hard to hear myself say that, to be honest. I’m a shift supervisor, which basically means I get paid a token amount more than the baristas to count money and hold the keys to the store.
Brooks: Are the customers generally pretty easy to deal with?
Barrett: The hardest ones to stomach are the teenage girls. Starbucks has become like smoking; it’s a symbol of pseudo-sophistication. People think that holding a Starbucks cup makes you look mature, but when someone is holding a strawberries and cr’egrave;me frappuccino in the mall, they don’t look like a Hollywood debutante. They look like a fat 12-year-old from Omaha.
Brooks:‘ Do you get a lot of customers who treat Starbucks like it’s their own office?
Barrett: We have so many squatters that come in and use our store as their personal office space. If you’ve ever been inside of the Starbucks at Post Oak and Richmond around 2 a.m., you can’t even find a seat because so many people are sitting around studying for hours. If you’ve ever complained about the price of a drink at Starbucks, it’s probably because we’re having to foot the electric bill for millions of laptops at any given time.
Brooks: How do you like the in-store music?’ How sick are you of hearing the same songs played over and over every day?
Barrett: The music is a double-edged sword. For all the Lilith Fair jams they play, there’s a good mix of classic rock and some very good jazz and swing. Every time I get sick of hearing Alanis Morissette whine about her ex-husband, I know it’s only a matter of time before I can jam some Dire Straits or Beatles. Sometimes, I’ll cheat and hook up my iPod to hear some Guns N’ Roses or Iron Maiden. That usually freaks out the elderly post-church crowd.