Not without my coffee

prague_coffee1.jpg

Tim Hanford at Slate reports on a study of coffee shops by an economist, Caitlin Knowles Myers, which found that women waited, on average, 20 seconds more between placing their order and receiving their coffee than did men, which held even after adjusting for the complicatedness of the drink:

She, with her students as research assistants, staked out eight coffee shops (PDF) in the Boston area and watched how long it took men and women to be served. Her conclusion: Men get their coffee 20 seconds earlier than do women. (There is also evidence that blacks wait longer than whites, the young wait longer than the old, and the ugly wait longer than the beautiful. But these effects are statistically not as persuasive.)

Perhaps, says the skeptic, this is because women order froufrou drinks? Up to a point. The researchers found that men are more likely to order simpler drinks. Yet comparing fancy-drink-ordering men with fancy-drink-ordering women, the longer wait for women remained.

And, rather interestingly, the wait was affected by other factors as well:

It is also hard to attribute the following finding to a female preference for wet-skinny-soy-macchiato with low-carb marshmallows: The delays facing women were larger when the coffee shop staff was all-male and almost vanished when the servers were all-female.

It is not clear whether women were held up by male staff because the men viewed them with contempt or because the male staff members were flirting furiously. The “contempt” explanation seems more likely, as the extra time that women have to wait seems to increase when the coffee shop is busy. Who would take extra time out to flirt just when the lines are longer?

Don’t think 20 seconds is a long time? Plunge your hand in ice water and wait for 20 seconds. You’ll think differently then. And this is just one aspect of one’s day — if this kind of discrimination occurs not just in coffee shops but in every kind of service environment, then women are losing time relative to men throughout the course of an average day. And 20 seconds here, 20 seconds there can add up, especially when that 20 seconds makes you miss your train.

But Zuzu, you say, isn’t this just another example of you feminists (you and your ouija uterus in particular) just cherry-picking the research you’ll be skeptical about or support? Aren’t you just being hysterical rather than logical?

Well, no. Most of the real bullshit studies we debunk here are based on evo psych. This one is observational and draws no conclusions about why slow service was important on the savannah. And it’s particularly interesting from an economic perspective, because discrimination on the basis of non-economic factors is largely* irrational, particuarly in a highly-competitive industry like coffeeshops. Indeed, Harford observes that the more competitive a market is, the less discrimination there tends to be. So why are coffeeshops anomalous?

Well, could be they’re not anomalous, or that they’re not so competitive that the discrimination is zeroed out. Could be that things are much better than they used to be, even if they’re not completely equal yet, which means that this study might motivate some companies to improve their service.

I have to say, though, that in an otherwise good article, Harford really struck a sour note with the way he wrapped up his piece:

But an alternative explanation is that the market is still working on the problem. Over time, we’ve moved from gentlemen’s clubs to male-dominated pubs to coffee shops, which are far more female-friendly. Perhaps it is just a matter of time before some entrepreneur decides to set up a big chain of coffee shops with “no men allowed” on the door.

Right. Because the answer to smallish but measurable irrational discrimination in economic markets in favor of one group of people is complete discrimination in favor of the other group. That’s what we call a false binary there, Tim.

H/T: Kat.

_________________
* Sometimes, it’s not entirely irrational, such as when you have a fashion-conscious brand and you want to be sure to sell to the right customers. So a high-priced salon may take your money if you’re a schlump, but they’re not going to make you feel like you want to come back because you’re not necessarily going to be the best advertisement for their product and attract the kind of customers they want. Of course, sometimes that strategy just ends up with the company shooting itself in the foot, alienating a potentially lucrative and mostly untapped market segment even as their share of the highly-competitive slice of their preferred market stagnates or shrinks.

Mind you, some people are completely in favor of discrimination and against the “PC tyranny” of anti-discrimination laws, because, goddamnit, a man should be able to run his business as he sees fit!

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53 Responses

  1. norbizness
    norbizness November 14, 2007 at 10:31 am |

    Make yr own! Stick it to Mr. Starbuck!

  2. Thom
    Thom November 14, 2007 at 10:47 am |

    It is not clear whether women were held up by male staff because the men viewed them with contempt or because the male staff members were flirting furiously. The “contempt” explanation seems more likely, as the extra time that women have to wait seems to increase when the coffee shop is busy. Who would take extra time out to flirt just when the lines are longer?

    Um…but why would you want to spend any more time dealing with a customer that you feel contempt for than you absolutely have to? As a customer service person I have to admit…the people I rush through the fastest are the ones that are annoying me. If I have “contempt” for someone, the last thing I want to do is keep them in front of me longer.

  3. Lisa
    Lisa November 14, 2007 at 11:09 am |

    Um…but why would you want to spend any more time dealing with a customer that you feel contempt for than you absolutely have to?

    I suspect it’s not so much the amount of time one spends dealing with the cashier/order taker, but the amount of time you wind up hanging around by the pickup counter, waiting for your drink to get made – at which point the baristas don’t have to interact with you at all if they don’t want to.

  4. Thom
    Thom November 14, 2007 at 11:16 am |

    Good point, I had not taken that into account.

  5. AAE
    AAE November 14, 2007 at 11:17 am |

    Could it have anything to do with the fact that women don’t tip as well as men? I know coffee shop employees don’t make a significant amount of money from tips, but being in the service industry, I can tell you almost for certain that, on average, women don’t tip as well as men. Is it possible that an employee may consciously or unconsciously speed it up a bit when waiting on a man in hope of making an extra buck? Just throwing that out there…

  6. ronnie ferez
    ronnie ferez November 14, 2007 at 11:21 am |

    I agree with TPAM.

    But I do go with your coffee preferences as the no. 1 factor in the delay.

    just a thought.

  7. Jill
    Jill November 14, 2007 at 11:24 am | *

    But I do go with your coffee preferences as the no. 1 factor in the delay.

    Read the article. They controlled for complicated drinks.

  8. Jill
    Jill November 14, 2007 at 11:25 am | *

    Also, I want a Ouija uterus.

  9. jfpbookworm
    jfpbookworm November 14, 2007 at 11:56 am |

    Could it have anything to do with the fact that women don’t tip as well as men?

    I suppose you could do another study to see (a) if women really don’t tip as well, (b) if other recognizable differences (e.g., age, race, clothing) tip differently, and (c) their rate of tipping affects the speed at which they’re served.

    Of course, even if it is true there’s a chicken/egg thing going on. If you get worse service than another group of people, you probably won’t tip as well.

    I’m thinking the most likely explanation is that baristas are subconsciously deciding which orders they need to rush and which customers can “afford to wait longer.”

  10. norbizness
    norbizness November 14, 2007 at 12:04 pm |

    Hey, it’s either this or not having the right to vote. It’s a fair trade-off.

  11. RKMK
    RKMK November 14, 2007 at 12:08 pm |

    And also, “women don’t tip as well” might have to do with “women aren’t paid as much as men, and therefore have less disposable income to give to people (who don’t give them the best service anyway).”

  12. Sailorman
    Sailorman November 14, 2007 at 12:28 pm |

    How exactly does this work in practice? At the coffee shops I’ve seen, people make a drink order. then the drinks are made in order. Then they are given to the customer. These are different people–the cashier (who interacts with the customer and supposedly would be most likely to judge based on sex) isn’t the same person as the server (who affects speed.) It seems to be saying that the people making drinks will specifically take longer to make a woman’s drink than a man’s drink, even when that drink is part of a long sequence of drinks

    I suppose my problem comes from the “fancy drink” issue. this quote from the original post:

    which held even after adjusting for the complicatedness of the drink

    is only somewhat accurate and is fairly misleading. The “control” for the fancy drink included only a binary differentiation:

    (from the study itself:)For the purpose of analysis, orders were categoized and coded as a binary variable fancy order. “Fancy orders” include any item requiring preparation while non-fancy orders include a plain coffee or hot tea, which could be dispensed immediately.

    That’s a pretty big split. There’s no distinction between, say, a double espresso and a grande soy dry caramel latte with cinnamon sprinkles. As anyone who’s ordered (or made) those drinks knows, that’s not really a good comparison. When I order a double espresso, it’s fast. When I order a triple vanilla latte with cocoa on top (yum) it’s slow.

    It doesn’t seem like a particularly great control. And I’m confused as to why it’s being represented on Slate (and here) as “they controlled for the complexity of the drinks” when they clearly did not do so in any meaningful fashion.

  13. Neogrammarian
    Neogrammarian November 14, 2007 at 12:29 pm |

    To echo Thom, but from the cap-slinger side of the fence (indie, nonSbucks, several states)- -especially- during a slam (long line), you’ll take a few extra seconds w/the customers you know/like/whatnot. You have to carve your own sanity out of that slam, and it’s often best to do so kindly, w/the nice customers, than w/the jerks. (And of course, re: this study, perhaps women are seen as “nicer” customers than men- given our patriarchal culture, it’s not improbable).

  14. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil November 14, 2007 at 12:31 pm |

    Right. Because the answer to smallish but measurable irrational discrimination in economic markets in favor of one group of people is complete discrimination in favor of the other group. That’s what we call a false binary there, Tim.

    But, but, zuzu! Isn’t this what the angry hysterical feminists always advocate?

    (Also, why should I tip at a coffee shop when I’m already paying $3.29 for a latte? I don’t tip the cashier anywhere else.)

  15. Nadia
    Nadia November 14, 2007 at 12:32 pm |

    Regardless that the difference disappeared when the servers were female is pretty interesting. In any case I can’t say I’m surprised.

  16. preying mantis
    preying mantis November 14, 2007 at 12:33 pm |

    “I know coffee shop employees don’t make a significant amount of money from tips, but being in the service industry, I can tell you almost for certain that, on average, women don’t tip as well as men.”

    There’s been some attention paid to that. The conclusion has generally been “women on average are more likely to experience sub-par or simply adequate service than men” and they tip based on how they’ve been served. Which, of course, leads to the chickenegg problem.

  17. micheyd
    micheyd November 14, 2007 at 12:34 pm |

    It’s hard to draw a conclusion about what’s happening here (i.e. whether the difference is due to “good” reasons or “bad” ones), but it is pretty amazing that the employees change their level of service in response to gender. Kind of depressing, really – am I being viewed as a woman first, and a customer second?

  18. Daomadan
    Daomadan November 14, 2007 at 1:10 pm |

    Could it have anything to do with the fact that women don’t tip as well as men? I know coffee shop employees don’t make a significant amount of money from tips, but being in the service industry, I can tell you almost for certain that, on average, women don’t tip as well as men. Is it possible that an employee may consciously or unconsciously speed it up a bit when waiting on a man in hope of making an extra buck? Just throwing that out there…

    They’ve shown that there is a stereotype that woman don’t tip as well and therefore do not get good service, for which they won’t tip well. An article on this phenomenon: http://www.nypost.com/seven/02282007/entertainment/food/dishrespect_food_cynthia_kilian.htm

    Also, your experience does not mean the true reality. You are feeding into the same stereotypes written about in the article I have cited.

  19. Ways to End the World » Blog Archive » Annals of weird arguments.

    [...] weird and annoying — why the Hell are women consistently waiting longer for coffee? — I find this sentence really bizarre. Don’t think 20 seconds is a long time? Plunge your hand in ice water and wait for 20 seconds. [...]

  20. Elaine Vigneault
    Elaine Vigneault November 14, 2007 at 1:33 pm |

    found that women waited, on average, 20 seconds more between placing their order and receiving their coffee than did men

    I think that should be rephrased to:

    barristas prepared, on average, men’s coffee drinks 20 seconds more quickly than women’s

  21. Henry
    Henry November 14, 2007 at 1:37 pm |

    I would think this would be mostly due to plain old laziness and avoidance of conflict. Basically, people work fastest when they’re dealing with someone who is likely to complain or is otherwise disagreeable. I’d imagine that male servers view men as more likely to be a pain in the ass, so they work faster to appease them. The reverse is likely true for female servers.

    It’s an interesting question: does gender have an influence on your reaction to bad service? I can say definitively that it has with me. I know that I’m far more likely to give a ration of shit to a male who’s failing at the task at hand than a female. Are women more likely to be aggressive with other women or with men?

  22. tyro
    tyro November 14, 2007 at 1:44 pm |

    Good thing I can’t stand the taste of coffee.

  23. sophonisba
    sophonisba November 14, 2007 at 1:54 pm |

    but being in the service industry, I can tell you almost for certain that, on average, women don’t tip as well as men.

    I’m sure this couldn’t possibly be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
    .

    The conclusion has generally been “women on average are more likely to experience sub-par or simply adequate service than men” and they tip based on how they’ve been served. Which, of course, leads to the chickenegg problem.

    Tipping rates aren’t actually a chicken and egg conundrum in any venue where service precedes payment, i.e. not Starbucks but virtually all restaurants. First you’re served, then you tip. How is this a difficult chain of events to unravel?

  24. kali
    kali November 14, 2007 at 2:06 pm |

    Sailorman, I thought you read the blimmin study.

    However, it is also possible that our crude measures of order type do not fully account for the possibility that women tend o place more complex orders. In this case, the positive coefficient for female would be the result not of discrimination but of unobserved order complexity. In order to explore this possibility with the data from the field study, we ran the analysis with fancy orders further broken down into lattes, cappuccinos, or “other,” other,” which included both drinks such as a machiato as well as orders requiring preparation that could not otherwise be overheard. The coefficients of interest, particularly the estimates of gender differentials, were not substantially atered.

    It’s a short paper. FFS. Also common sense would dictate that expresso would be in the non-fancy category. But then again, common sense might also suggest that the authors of the paper would have thought of your very simple critique, so maybe you don’t have any.

    What the hell is with the assholes who pop up assuming that the authors of feminist papers are ignorant of basic statistical priniciples? It’s a subspecies of commenter which I would like to throw into a burning lake of fire for all eternity– you know, if I was God. Which unfortunately I’m not. There was a particularly egregious example of this on Pandagon the other day, where Amanda asked for people to share their stories of contraception sabotage for a research paper, and some dickwit popped up to announce this was a self-selecting sample! Grr!

  25. Josh
    Josh November 14, 2007 at 2:20 pm |

    I’d like to echo Henry and neogrammarian — when you work for low pay in the service industry, and tips are a negligible part of your take-home, your only incentives are to not get yelled at and not lose your job. Men tend to be more direct, more assertive, more angry, and more likely to complain. I could see where this could be a result of an unconscious calculation about who’s more likely to get you in trouble.

  26. preying mantis
    preying mantis November 14, 2007 at 2:23 pm |

    “First you’re served, then you tip. How is this a difficult chain of events to unravel?”

    It’s not a difficult chain to unravel in any one given instance, particularly if you can ask the server and the tipper why they gave that tip or that service. It’s a difficult chain to unravel when you’re talking about a phenomenon–does the assumption of poor tipping lead to bad service which leads to poor tipping, or is there just a consistent lack of service which leads to a consistent lack of good tips?

    Assume it’s true that women, on average, tip less. Assume it’s because they, on average, get worse service. Do they get crap service because the server is expecting a crap tip and therefore doesn’t want to waste the effort on them, leading to a self-fulfilling prophecy? Do they get worse service because the server perceives women as less likely to object to inattentive or inadequate service either by raising a ruckus with the manager or by leaving a small tip? Is the server then overly likely to assume that the small tip is due to women being stingy rather than being due to poor service? Are men more likely to be catered to and coddled by servers in the hopes of hitting a Mr. Bigspender jackpot? Is it less that women leave poor tips and more that men are more likely to leave excessively good tips? Do servers view adequate service given to women as the equivalent of good service given to men without realizing it? Etc.

  27. occhiblu
    occhiblu November 14, 2007 at 2:55 pm |

    Single data-point anecdote: I’ve noticed that I (female) tend to talk to cashiers or other behind-the-counter people much more than my partner (male) does. My partner’s not rude, but he’ll barely make eye contact with someone and start out the interaction by simply placing his order; I always try to make eye contact and smile and say “Hello!” and wait for some sort of brief response (like a smile) to indicate that the person’s ready to help me now. My partner’s interactions definitely take less time, but I think that mine are more pleasant.

    And I do find that male counter-people are more likely to take the extra few seconds, after I’ve said hello, to ask how I am; it wouldn’t surprise me if my interactions with male clerks were longer than my interactions with female clerks, because there does tend to be an element of polite flirtatiousness entering into it with the male clerks.

  28. occhiblu
    occhiblu November 14, 2007 at 2:58 pm |

    On rereading my comment, it also strikes me that I very well may be creating a situation in which I wait longer for service because I’m waiting to be acknowledged by the clerk before I place my order, so I’m being less assertive than my partner in demanding the clerk’s attention. I have seen that passivity work against me in less-than-pleasant ways, where counter staff just ignores me.

  29. D.N. Nation
    D.N. Nation November 14, 2007 at 3:28 pm |

    Hi everyone.

    I hope you are all doing well.

    Just wanted to say something.

    Correlation =/= Causation.

    Thank you for letting me say that.

    Carry on.

  30. Sara no H.
    Sara no H. November 14, 2007 at 3:33 pm |

    It is not clear whether women were held up by male staff because the men viewed them with contempt or because the male staff members were flirting furiously. The “contempt” explanation seems more likely, as the extra time that women have to wait seems to increase when the coffee shop is busy. Who would take extra time out to flirt just when the lines are longer?

    Um, well, certainly not me. Nope. Never. >.> *cough*

    And damn, now I’ll have to start watching myself at register and try to notice whether I’m subconsciously serving women more slowly. So far the only really noticeable trend that’s come to my attention is that the people who tend to have their payment either visibly ready or visibly -not- ready get their coffee sooner than people who have a wad of change but spend an inordinate amount of time picking which nickel to fork over. The reason is that if you give me your money, I’ll ring it through, then get your coffee (fast); if you clearly don’t have your money, I’ll go get your coffee while you’re fumbling around, and deliver it hopefully just as you’ve found your method of payment (faster); but if you’re sitting there counting out singles and dimes I’m never sure whether I should just wait patiently for the money or abandon you in favour of getting your coffee.

    It’s interesting though … the study, that is, especially if it already takes into account the time differential involved between pulling a medium coffee and a medium nonfat sugarfree vanilla latte (which seem to be the two most common drinks ordered, by men and women respectively).

  31. kali
    kali November 14, 2007 at 3:44 pm |

    I just want to say something too. Comment number 27 is a classic example of what I’m complaining about in my long, bitchy comment that is currently in moderation.

    Did anyone here not already know that? Anyone find that a useful, enlightening contribution to the discussion?

    Didn’t think so. Shut up, comment #27. And whoever wrote it, learn some statistics.

  32. kali
    kali November 14, 2007 at 3:46 pm |

    (it just occurred to me that comments probably get renumbered when things are unmodded. So: I’m talking about the comment by D.N. Nation.)

  33. Sara no H.
    Sara no H. November 14, 2007 at 3:54 pm |

    Another thing I’m thinking about as I’m reading the paper — she notes that often, a different person (the barista) prepares the drink ordered at the cashier’s station. This is true in most busy coffeeshops I’ve worked and visited, but more importantly, busier shops (i.e. Peets, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, probably Starbucks, etc.) probably have a bump bar that keeps track of active drink orders and wait times. At Peets ours shows the name of the individual who placed the order, the drinks s/he ordered, and the length of time the drink has been “live.” I know corporate keeps some kind of record of those because we get in trouble if our percentage of unnamed drinks is too high, or if our percentage of red drinks (read, drinks that have been live more than five minutes) is too high. I think that kind of information would be useful to her in a sense, because it would decrease the lack of specificity in her “fancy drinks” -and- it would provide the name of the individual in question, which is usually visibly gendered, and is the only information the baristas (who prepare the drinks) have to go by. (It won’t do anything for other factors, such as race, dress, etc. though…) I know the study’s “over” but maybe she could still use the info? How do I contact her and let her know?

  34. Christina
    Christina November 14, 2007 at 4:01 pm |

    For an answer to your last link, Zuzu, I offer this.

    Shorter: The more homogeneous a business, particularly the top management team, the more likely the TMT are to be doing something or to try to do something illegal and/or unethical.

  35. exholt
    exholt November 14, 2007 at 4:04 pm |

    Make yr own! Stick it to Mr. Starbuck!

    Completely second that. Though I love the taste of coffee, I seldom patronize Starbucks or other boutique coffee shops because the idea of spending $3-6 for a cup of coffee strikes me as an absurd waste of money.

  36. Nadia
    Nadia November 14, 2007 at 4:10 pm |

    Basically, people work fastest when they’re dealing with someone who is likely to complain or is otherwise disagreeable. I’d imagine that male servers view men as more likely to be a pain in the ass, so they work faster to appease them. The reverse is likely true for female servers.

    That would have been my guess, too…except it doesn’t explain why there’s next to no difference when the servers are female.

  37. DarthVelma
    DarthVelma November 14, 2007 at 4:12 pm |

    All I know is that when I go out alone, I get crap service almost every time. When I go out with a man, the wait staff fall all over themselves. Pisses me off no end. And there have been more times than I can count where the wait staff have talked to my dinner companion and completely ignored my existence.

    I used to wait tables. When I get good service I’ve been known to tip exhorbitantly. But it almost never happens when I’m a woman alone.

  38. D.N. Nation
    D.N. Nation November 14, 2007 at 4:31 pm |

    Hi, Kali.

    Did anyone here not already know that?

    Probably not, but it’s still not taken into account. Is it to be assumed that there’s some big misogynisy-in-the-face-of-turning-a-profit streak at work here a la grocery stores and soda jerks in the Jim Crow South? Really? Really? In Twenty Oh Seven?

    Huh. Now there’s you a divide I simply can’t cross.

    Again, unless there’s causation to be had with this super intriguing correlation, then this is huff and puff. Mostly puff. (See also: That “fatties are ruining It’s A Small World” think Jill linked to recently. See how it looks on the other side?) I have every logical ability to owe this tragedy up to the fact that men carry money in wallets (quick pay time) whereas their female counterparts do it in purses (not so much). I can argue this using anecdotal nothingness- for example, it took my wife nothing short of 45 seconds to get her keys out to open the front door the other day, while I could have accomplished the same task in about 5. And on and on and on.

    It has taken me a grand total of ten seconds to write this sentence. And once again, another ten to write this one. There’s your twenty seconds. In the grand scheme of things, sound and fury, signifying the obvious.

  39. Betty Boondoggle
    Betty Boondoggle November 14, 2007 at 4:59 pm |

    whereas their female counterparts do it in purses

    Ah, now see, I knew there’d be someone who’d invent a new way to blame women.

    :)

  40. Vir Modestus
    Vir Modestus November 14, 2007 at 5:01 pm |

    I think that should be rephrased to:

    barristas prepared, on average, men’s coffee drinks 20 seconds more quickly than women’s

    But, you haven’t just changed the gender being focused on. You are also changing the issue being studied. “Waited long” is a different thing entirely (it comprises the whole processs) than “barristas prepared” which focuses only on the production (and assumes a gender of coffee maker).

    As others have noted, the delay may come at the start of the transaction where there is personal interaction and not at the production stage where there is usually very little interaction. Unless order taker and coffeemaker are the same person –which is not usually the case at busier times/shops — those who prepared the coffee may not know the gender of the person receiving the coffee, and therefore would not know who to delay/rush.

    Your desire to change the focus of the gender being discussed to implicate the patriarchy skewed the results of the study as it was presented.

  41. D.N. Nation
    D.N. Nation November 14, 2007 at 5:24 pm |

    Ah, now see, I knew there’d be someone who’d invent a new way to blame women.

    I didn’t want to disappoint.

  42. AAE
    AAE November 14, 2007 at 5:33 pm |

    I’m sure this couldn’t possibly be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Actually, no. When you’re a broke college student, you bend over backwards for every customer, regardless of who they are, because you need the money, period. I think that women don’t tip as well has more to do with the fact that they make less money.

  43. kali
    kali November 14, 2007 at 5:48 pm |

    See also: That “fatties are ruining It’s A Small World” think Jill linked to recently. See how it looks on the other side?

    The thing is, you don’t know what you’re talking about, so you probably shouldn’t come charging into threads stating the obvious like it hadn’t occurred to anyone else.

    I saw that post of Jill’s. It referred to a newspaper story someone had made up with no source.

    This, on the other hand, refers to a regression analysis on experimental observations. They are not the same thing.

    They do, however, have one thing in common. “Correlation does not equal causation” is not, on its own, a valid critique of either story.

  44. evil fizz
    evil fizz November 14, 2007 at 5:58 pm |

    Regarding this whole issue of whether men tip more, I do wonder if you see a difference when you break the tipper/tippee situation down by gender.

    The servers I tip the least are the ones who are either patronizing or completely inattentive. The former category seems to comprise more men. The latter is pretty balanced.

    Is it possible this is a “Let me just speak to your husband?” sort of phenomenon?

  45. preying mantis
    preying mantis November 14, 2007 at 5:59 pm |

    “When you’re a broke college student, you bend over backwards for every customer, regardless of who they are, because you need the money, period.”

    My experience, at least, has been that this holds true right up to the point where you’re too slammed to necessarily bend over backwards 100% of the time for every single customer, when you’re dealing with a server who is a) broke and b) needs/wants an extra buck more than they need/want to sit down for a few minutes or have a cigarette before they kill someone with a salad fork. Once the place is really busy, it can turn into an odds game pretty quickly, with the less-likely-to-tip-well customers being served perfunctorily in favor of buttering up the probable bigger tips. Of course, pegging someone as a poor tipper is largely going to be an esoteric process unless you recognize the customer, so there’s plenty of room for personal prejudice and anecdotal evidence to dictate strategies unsupported by empirical evidence.

    And if you’re dealing with a server who isn’t a broke college student or someone equally strapped for cash, but instead a non-broke student working for, say, beer money, the bend over backwards for every customer thing becomes even less of a rule.

  46. RKMK
    RKMK November 14, 2007 at 6:45 pm |

    Completely second that. Though I love the taste of coffee, I seldom patronize Starbucks or other boutique coffee shops because the idea of spending $3-6 for a cup of coffee strikes me as an absurd waste of money

    Hey now, hey now! No need to hate on the Gingerbread Latte, aka the only thing that makes my life worth living from November thru February!

  47. exholt
    exholt November 14, 2007 at 7:14 pm |

    Hey now, hey now! No need to hate on the Gingerbread Latte, aka the only thing that makes my life worth living from November thru February!

    I never said I completely hated the drinks Starbucks serves….just that they are grossly overpriced, especially if purchased on a daily basis.

    Also, think of all the gingerbread villages and inhabitants that suffered so you can enjoy your gingerbread latte. ;)

    /jk

  48. donna darko
    donna darko November 14, 2007 at 9:12 pm |

    It’s like driving a car. When the guy behind me is a white guy I move faster because I know he’ll make a BIG DEAL OUT OF IT if I don’t. If it’s a white woman or person of color, they won’t get ALL UP IN IT out of a sense of entitlement. I noticed the white guys at Starbucks and everywhere else act impatient sooner than anyone else.

  49. donna darko
    donna darko November 14, 2007 at 9:17 pm |

    Gingerbread Latte, aka the only thing that makes my life worth living from November thru February!

    No joke.

  50. Sara no H.
    Sara no H. November 14, 2007 at 11:45 pm |

    There’s no distinction between, say, a double espresso and a grande soy dry caramel latte with cinnamon sprinkles. As anyone who’s ordered (or made) those drinks knows, that’s not really a good comparison. When I order a double espresso, it’s fast. When I order a triple vanilla latte with cocoa on top (yum) it’s slow.

    I guess that answer actually depends on whether business has been busy enough that there’s already fresh steamed milk on hand. Steaming a pitcher takes about thirty seconds, pulling a double should take about twenty-five to thirty seconds. A triple takes around forty, which means that if you’re good, it should theoretically only take you about ten seconds longer to prepare a triple vanilla latte than a double espresso (assuming you have to steam milk in the first place).

    Then again, that assumes there’s only one person working bar — if there’s one person steaming milk, and one person pulling shots, and one person making blended drinks, it throws everything into a tizzy.

  51. exholt
    exholt November 15, 2007 at 3:35 am |

    It’s like driving a car. When the guy behind me is a white guy I move faster because I know he’ll make a BIG DEAL OUT OF IT if I don’t. If it’s a white woman or person of color, they won’t get ALL UP IN IT out of a sense of entitlement. I noticed the white guys at Starbucks and everywhere else act impatient sooner than anyone else.

    Donna,

    Know what you mean. Had to deal with that dynamic when I worked the cash register as an afterschool job in junior high/high school. Regardless of gender, it was White people who gave me the most grief along with occasional doses of racism on account of my Chinese ancestry whenever something sold out, I cannot give a refund on an item due to store policy, or whatever else the overentitled customers felt like ranting and raving about. The refund issue was the worst, especially when the store policy on refunds was clearly posted in large letters right in front of the register. And they had the temerity to imply that I was “undereducated”.

    It was one reason I vowed to myself to never work retail service jobs again when I finished college.

  52. donna darko
    donna darko November 15, 2007 at 3:01 pm |

    It reinforces hierarchies but I hate it when the white guy behind me starts tailgating or honking the horn. When I’m standing in line and the clerk is slow, the white guy behind me starts fidgeting like it’s my fault.

  53. exholt
    exholt November 15, 2007 at 4:14 pm |

    It reinforces hierarchies but I hate it when the white guy behind me starts tailgating or honking the horn. When I’m standing in line and the clerk is slow, the white guy behind me starts fidgeting like it’s my fault.

    Though it is painful to deal with, I witnessed one event last week where POC along with other fellow frustrated customers decided not to stand for such behavior.

    One evening when I was picking up some Boston Chicken for dinner, I witnessed a POC way put a high and mighty White dude in his place way in front of me when he ranted about how he should be placed ahead of everyone else in line on account of his status as an attorney at some biglaw firm. The rest of us had a lot of fun piling on this arrogant overentitled asshole. The look on his face when a WOC called him a “glorified bureaucratic parasite” was priceless. Poor baby left in a huff not too long afterwards to our great relief.

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