After 5 months with Coffee Bean as a part-time barista, I decided it was time to quit. Don’t get me wrong, I still love coffee. It’s the job that I no longer enjoy. I was spending more and more time at work because we were so shorthanded. I agreed to work more shifts and longer shifts because I could and I wanted to help out my colleagues. But it became too stressful. One week, I worked 36.5 hours! Another 3.5 hours and it would be a full-time 40-hour job. Not that I was getting a lot of money for my time.
On Christmas Day, I worked 10 hours. I shouldn’t complain since I was getting 1.5 times the normal rate. Then on Boxing Day, which was a public holiday, I was relaxing at home when the text came asking for help. I went in to help for 5 hours because I empathised with them. Disappointed that it was normal hourly rate even though it was an official public holiday.
I went to work on Jan 2, another public holiday, even though I knew it was normal rate. Imagine my shock to see that there was only 1 manager and me on duty from 8am till 11am when the third person showed up. On a normal Monday, 1+1 would work, even with production and warehouse delivery, but Jan 2 was a public holiday and a lot of people came for breakfast. I was taking orders and making drinks at the same time, and clearing tables. The sink became so full that there was no more room to put all the dirty dishes and cutlery. I was so stressed dashing around. Who had time to pack away the deliveries when these arrived. I had never felt so happy when the third person showed up. I know I won’t ever want to work like that every again!
And what happened? Coffee Bean decided to launch Food Panda delivery service. We were told that when orders came in, they had priority because the delivery man would show up to pick up the orders within minutes, so customers at the outlet would have to wait for their drinks/food. We were already shorthanded — I see experienced staff leaving and no new staff joining. I don’t remember when was the last time I saw a new part-timer. We could barely manage all the orders at the outlet and now, we had to handle delivery orders as well. Obviously, management was looking just at the additional sales and not whether the staff can manage.
One Saturday, I worked 8 to 6.30pm, and we had only 3 staff in the morning because our one full-time colleague took last-minute medical leave. Only 1 person was doing the food order, the other barista and I were handling cashier duties and drinks, clearing tables when we can, and facing complaints. Customers had to wait an hour for their food and we missed a couple of drink and food orders, so complaints were rising and we had to refund those who were not prepared to wait. It was chaos and madness. I worked 8 to 4pm with no breaks. Imagine being on your feet for 8 hours with no food and hardly any water. No wonder I was looking pale and ready to faint.
I was having second thoughts about leaving my colleagues of 5 months in the lurch, but after Saturday’s experience, I had no qualms about resigning. Enough was enough. I know last-minute sick leave was unavoidable but having no solution was bad too. How about extra pay to incentivize those whose shifts start later that same day to come in earlier? If we continue to pay $6 an hour, no one will bother to come in even if they can. If you give 2X for those additional hours, it just might solve some of the last-minute manpower crunch.
Anyway, I finally closed my Coffee Bean chapter and l am looking forward to start my career as a trainer. Onward march, Gemstone!