Starbucks barista tearfully calls out customers who are rude amid the pandemic: ‘People don’t understand’

·4-min read
Starbucks barista calls out rude customers amid the pandemic (TikTok / @rachelkeaton)
Starbucks barista calls out rude customers amid the pandemic (TikTok / @rachelkeaton)

A Starbucks barista has tearfully opened up about the impact of rude customers and the pressures of working in the service industry amid the pandemic.

Rachel Keaton, who goes by the username @rachelkeaton on TikTok, reflected on the difficulties she and other service industry employees are facing in a video uploaded this week.

In the clip, Keaton, who can be seen crying while sitting in her car dressed in her Starbucks uniform, began by recalling an interaction with a customer who said that it “wasn’t her problem” when she was informed that the coffee chain’s oven wasn’t working.

“To the lady who said it wasn’t her problem,” she said, before describing her hectic shift, which saw the store’s employees “already really busy” with mobile orders and cafe orders from dozens of people at a time. “One of our ovens was broken so we were warning people that the food was taking longer and… people don’t understand.”

The Starbucks employee then explained how the pressures of the job have been made worse by the pandemic, as some workers “left jobs like this”.

“And that’s fine, like I understand it’s too hard, and honestly, I’m about ready to leave,” Keaton continued. “But to the customers who are coming in and not being understanding, and quite honestly being an a**hole, I think we’re in this predicament because you think it’s not your problem.

“You expect all of the food industry workers to adjust with working during a pandemic. You expect us to be working short-staffed for your orders to come out without any time, as if we are not human beings who are making all of these things.”

According to Keaton, the actual issue is that customers “think it’s not [their] problem” and don’t treat employees with respect.

“But it is your problem. Because, if it’s not your problem that my oven is broken, it’s not my problem that you are waiting longer,” Keaton continued. “I’m going as fast as I humanely can.”

Keaton then reflected on some of the pressures that service industry employees have faced amid the pandemic, revealing that her coworkers have had to miss their breaks and are running on “no hours of sleep”.

In the emotional video, Keaton revealed that her stress has gotten so severe that she envied a coworker who had to miss work because of a broken arm, and that part of her hopes she gets fired so that she can file for unemployment.

“For every one person who is understanding and has patience and is kind, there are like five other people who are not and who are really mean,” Keaton concluded. “So no, it’s not your problem, but it should be. Or it shouldn’t even be a problem to begin with.”

The video has since been viewed more than 780,000 times on TikTok, where many viewers have expressed their support for Keaton.

“The pandemic has shown how selfish a lot of people are and I am so sorry that you’re being treated so poorly,” one person commented.

Another viewer said: “I feel like when Covid started we had a good three months of customers understanding issues then it got 10x worse.”

The comment prompted a response from Keaton, who replied: “THIS! They were understanding and [we were] ‘heroes’ for working through this… And then things opened back up and people forgot we’re human beings.”

In another comment, Keaton shared her gratitude to all those who had written supportive messages and shared their own experiences with rude customers.

“Can I just say I love you all so much? Like I literally have been suffering in silence for SO long and finally hit my breaking point,” she wrote. “As comforting as it is to know you’re not alone and that others hear/feel you - I find it incredibly sad.

“My heart hurts for all of you who are trying your hardest to make ends meet. We will get through this. And know that you’re appreciated and loved. You will always find a friend here.”

While many of the comments were positive, there were also those who questioned why Keaton allowed customers and the pressures of her job to make her cry, with the barista responding in a follow-up video, in which she also accused Starbucks of not being supportive enough of its staff.

The Independent has contacted Keaton and Starbucks for comment.

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