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Capital Conversations: It Is Just Coffee At the End Of the Day

Video Credit: Sumaiya Nasir

By Sumaiya Nasir | December 6, 2021

Arionna Merrill, 24, is a recently promoted shift manager at Starbucks in Latham, NY.

When I first started here [Starbucks], I was a newly single mother taking care of my son by myself, and I really just felt like I needed a new change. It just didn’t feel like I was doing enough in my life, if that makes sense? I had been with the same job, Dunkin Donuts, for four years of my life, and it wasn’t going anywhere. I wasn’t moving up, or anything like that, so I decided one day that I was going to apply at Starbucks, and from there on, it’s history.

I say it all the time when I’m at home, that I am a bar star. It’s actually funny, I was talking to my mom about it the other day, and after I was done talking to her about work, I was saying to her how, I feel funny, I just talked about all this stuff, I’m not even on the clock, right now, I shouldn’t even be talking about this stuff. And literally the one thing she said to me was like, “you love your job, a lot of people don’t, and you should be happy that you love your job enough to talk about it when you’re at home.”

It was really hard at first. I didn’t know really if I fit in or not, so to say. It was weird, just because coming from Dunkin, is… they’ve ran things a lot differently than Starbucks does. It was very out of order, and backwards. I don’t even know how to make it make sense, but it was all over the place, so when I came here, it was kind of like learning to stay planted in a position and to not go over and start doing someone else’s job, just because they’re not doing it quick enough, or something like that. So it was hard at first, people also weren’t too nice when I first started, which definitely made it harder. There were some days when I just wanted to transfer and never come back here. But I stuck it out, and I’m really happy that I did, because I grew to love it.

My day would start at 3:30 in the morning, get up, get ready, head out the house, be here, probably between 4:55, 4:56. We get in, and then to start my day, the first thing that I have to do is set the safe, count all the drawers… I have to go around and count all the milks in the store. Then I have to do all the temps in the store, make sure everything is in temp… Then basically it’s a lot of running the floor and making sure that all of the baristas are getting their breaks, that the baristas aren’t getting burnt out, being in certain positions for too long, making sure I’m actually taking my breaks and not just forfeiting them. It’s really just a lot of directing and making sure that I’m doing my part so that the baristas are able to do their part.

I feel like when I was a barista, even a barista trainer, I felt funny if I coached people or anything like that, or just in general, like [if I did] anything that was shift supervisor duties, I felt funny. But I will say that once you do promote, you get that training in, and then you do a couple of those shifts by yourselves, it really does boost your confidence, in a sense, to where you don’t start doubting yourself on little things. Like when you’re pulling food, you’re not second guessing, you’re not, when a customer is coming to you with something, something that’s wrong, you’re not getting flustered and stuff and just keeping a level head about things, because it is just coffee at the end of the day and there’s no reason to lose your head.

I feel like with being a shift, it brought out a different confidence in me, that made it where I don’t feel funny now, like if I do tell someone “hey, you’re doing this wrong,” you try to talk to them about it, and I just don’t feel funny anymore, like I would have when I was a barista. It helps me see myself in a better light and really made me love my job a little more, because before the shift position, I didn’t think I was even going to stay here.

If there’s one thing with this job that’s impacted me, it’s Starbucks’ motto for baristas: “make the moment right.” It’s definitely taught me to assume the best in people, and to not just think that people are lying to you all the time, to just believe in people and put faith in others. Because everyone has to work together to make the day go by easier. It’s also definitely taught me time management. I used to take forever to do so many things that I get done way quicker now. It’s helped me with my time and attendance. I, for a while, had a little streak where I was three, four minutes late, and it helped me just learn to get on time and on the right schedule and plan more accordingly. [I also learned] how to correctly let someone know that they did something wrong without making them feel like it’s their fault, or they’re not smart. [The job] just teaches you how to talk to people in general.

I have a lot of relationships with customers. I know a lot of regular’s names and I know how they like their coffee. Usually, I could start their coffee before they even come in. As soon as I see them in the parking lot, I could start it. I’m even friends with some of them on Facebook, because that’s just the relationship that we’ve built at this point. And it’s just, it’s so nice, it’s like a family away from your family. You actually learn about them and their background life and their families, and their kids and their grandkids and it’s really nice to be able to connect with someone that, before working here, I would’ve never met.

[Being promoted] has definitely made me ten times happier. I feel like I go home every day with a new purpose that I didn’t feel before, because I have my son, and I love my son, and I’ve always honestly loved my job. But it just makes me feel better to know that I’m doing more for my store, that I’m able to help the baristas and other shifts, who I care about so much, and it just makes me feel happier and like, more successful, when I’m leaving at the end of the day. I got so much good stuff done that wouldn’t have gotten done if I wasn’t there, and it just makes me feel proud. I’ve never actually felt proud of myself… until I got this position, until I trained and actually got to run shifts by myself, is when I really started to feel proud of myself, for the first time.

I’m very thankful that this job happened for me when it did because I felt like I was at a very in-between part of my life, and it really helped me grow, because two years ago, the person that I was, you wouldn’t even recognize. So she definitely owes this job everything. Even on the hard days, I do love this job.


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