Behind the Coffee

 Paul’s jam-packed experience working at Dunkin’.

Paul, age 20. Former shift leader at Dunkin’.

Maani Collection/Shutterstock

I’d get there at 3:30 a.m. to take all the doughnuts out of the freezer. Do the morning bake, which is croissants, bagels, everything like that. Brew up all the coffee. Prep by sweeping and mopping the floor and then we’d open. It would be jam-packed from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m., to the point where the line would be out into the middle of the street. And that was it every single day. Dealing with rude people, rude management. Every day there was something new.

I worked at Dunkin’ for five months. I was a shift leader making $16.25 an hour. Last semester, I was a commuter at New Paltz. I would have class until 2 p.m. and then I would work from two to nine, which gave me no time for a social life and made doing schoolwork and balancing everything out extremely difficult. Over the summer, I would work from 3:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday. 

People would come into the store, and they do not play around with their coffee in the morning. I’ve had cups thrown at me. I’ve been spit on. I’ve been called slurs. A lot happened.

You can be extremely nice to customers, but people are disrespectful. I tone change for work, which is changing the tone of your voice and your emotions to better fit a position. No matter what you do; you don’t put enough sugar in someone’s coffee, you don’t put an extra pump of caramel in there; people will scream at you and treat you like you’re just a number, an object.

One morning, somebody asked for a large water and I gave them a medium. She threw the cup through the drive-thru window and hit me with it and I threw it back in her face. 

I didn’t really stop and think about using coping mechanisms at work. I was almost done with my shift. She was one of the last customers I had to help before I clocked out at 9 a.m. so I was in bliss. I’m like, “F**k this, f**k everyone. I’m going to bed.” Then she threw it. In my brain, the rational side was like, “Just pick it up and put it down,” and the non rational side was like, “Nail her in the skull.” The non rational side won. 

She was fine, she didn’t get hurt. It was a plastic cup that was mostly empty. My manager was behind me and said, “In my office, now.” She’s profusely apologizing to the customer. The customer said, “I asked for a large! I just want my large water!”

I was immediately terminated and blacklisted from working at Dunkin’. I didn’t realize the owner of my store owned like 70 Dunkins’ in the United States. He reached out to every manager he knew and the general manager of the company. 

I had put my two weeks notice in before this happened. I had nine hours of sick time and I was scheduled for nine hours. So, I went to use my sick time and management said that was fine. Then I didn’t show up to a shift, thinking that I was using my sick time. I was told that I had ‘no call, no showed’ and had been terminated. 

I was terminated with two days left of that two weeks notice. 

Alyssa Sciarrone

Alyssa Sciarrone is a 20-year-old journalism student at SUNY New Paltz from Brooklyn, NY. She is the sports page editor at The Oracle. Alyssa is the president of the New Paltz Music Collective, hosting live music on campus. She is also a DJ on WFNP, co-hosting her radio show “The Suggestion Box.” She wants to work in the arts and entertainment field of journalism as a career.

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