Like most first jobs, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting myself into, but I thought it would be a pretty easy way to make some extra cash. I got a call from one of my mother’s friends saying I could work as a Juice Barista in her Palm Beach health food store so I jumped on board.
I didn’t really know about juicing at the time but I just went along with it. During my time there I experienced a lot of crazy situations and customers. The job ended up teaching me a lot, so here is a list of five things I learned as a juice barista in Palm Beach.
1. Find something comical in every situation
Because who wants to be upset or sad? I burned a batch of muffins once and we still sold them on the shelves so that we didn’t have to waste inventory. I stared at those burned muffins from my workstation, mocked by my own failure (How dramatic, I know).
Once I also was very temporarily trapped in the freezer while restocking the juice bar bins. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, a few customers have yelled at me for things that had nothing to do with me, even if they thought it did.
I usually beat myself up about situations like these, thinking people would be disappointed in me or that I’ve embarrassed myself. However, once I learned to brush it off and tell my friends the embarrassing tale in a comical fashion later, I was able to learn from the situation and I ended up being much happier.
2. You are not your failures
When you first start anything and you don’t know what you’re doing it can be tough not to be hard on yourself. It’s the reason why so many people quit New Year’s resolutions. However, it’s different at work because you have to do what your job requires of you, even if it calls for figuring it out and embarrassing yourself along the way.
The tale that caused the most embarrassment was my first-time serving customers alone. My co-worker that trained me forgot to tell me to change the filter after every time I made about three drinks.
I had made five juices up to that point when a young, smiling, and unassuming woman walked in and ordered a juice. I smiled and asked her about her day as I chopped and juiced.
When I was done I poured her drink and asked her to sip it so I could add the rest to her cup. However, I had not changed the filter with all of the apple peels, stringy kale stalks, and remnants of fruit. She sipped her juice only to experience a mostly solid juice made by yours truly.
Strings of pulp, random clumps, and seeds hung from her mouth as she pulled her lips away from the cup. Her eyes widened with concern and she smiled politely as I poured the rest in her cup not understanding what was happening at the moment. All I can say is she probably won’t be going back.
3. You should always be prepared but just go with the flow
The juice bar was typically always packed in the morning. The fact that I didn’t know the recipes by heart set us back and slowed everyone down the first couple of days. I was the new girl that was irritating everyone with her sloth-like service simply because I still didn’t know what I was doing.
And honestly, no one cared that I was new or in training, they just wanted what they came in the store for. I decided to copy down the recipes during a lull and memorize them at home since I didn’t have the time to remember by repetition without angry customers.
When I came into work, before the juice bar opened, I would also prep some of the ingredients for the more popular drinks so that I could be a step ahead. This helped a lot and it made me realize how important being prepared is to get anything done. It feels great to do a good job and have happy customers to show for it.
4. Health is important and most people underestimate it.
Working in a health food store made me think about my lifestyle choices. Here I was promoting health by making juice for customers and then asking my manager if I could take the gourmet cupcakes home at night.
Filling up toddlers’ sippy-cups with healthy juice every morning and wrapping up to-go juice for a woman who brought juice to her sister in the hospital everyday inspired me to be healthy. What else matters in life if you don’t have your health?
So one evening after work I bought a juicer. I made juice for all my family members in the morning. And at work I asked some of my co-workers to tell me about the healthy pre-made food the store served. Anyone want a collard green wrap? It’s wrapped with a bow!
5. Kind customers are the best customers
It’s reasonable to expect a certain level of customer service when walking into an establishment. However, it is unreasonable for anyone to think they can walk in and cut the line or receive special attention.
One day we ran out of kale and wouldn’t get any more until later in the week. This did not go over too well with most of our regular customers. We politely told them we could make their orders without kale, or substitute it with collard greens, and most of them accepted with unsatisfied pursed lips and arched eyebrows.
The customers that were kind and understanding made everyday so much better. It changed how I viewed myself as a customer. With my gentile and shy personality I was never a rude customer, but I do think about how to be more understanding now.
And I never go into a store if they are closing or about to close, because I know they probably just want to go home and I can empathize with them.