Author Alex Frankel wanted to find out what it's like to work at Starbucks for research for his book, "Punching In: The Unauthorized Adventures of a Front-Line Employee." So he applied, got hired and went to work. (He also got jobs at the Gap, UPS, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Whole Foods, and the Apple Store.) Here's what he writes about his stint at Starbucks:
* From the outside it looked like the job was tailor-made for slackers, but I was finding it less than easy. The amount of learning in the early weeks was immense, and things would get easier, but when you work at a busy store, you are a cog in a fast-moving machine. ...It surprised me to find how taxing a job like this could be.
* As days turned into weeks at Starbucks, instead of bonding with my customers or even getting to know them, I felt more alienated. I began to loathe them as they treated themselves to the products we offered. The individualized orders and particulars so many customers seemed to cherish struck me as a societal illness underwritten by corporate greed.
* I knew that one day long ago, Starbucks had been a truly authentic, interesting, and one-of-a-kind cafe, but that authenticity had been imitated and copied to a point where it was sadly lost and replaced with a new faux authenticity.
* After the stint at Starbucks, I'd hoped to land at a workplace that had a strong culture but did not expend so much effort in building what amounted to a fake sense of belonging. The Apple Store was an obvious last stop in my expedition into the workplace.
* Even as I got to know my coworkers, I treated them warily. Surely they must be plastic, I thought -- otherwise why would they work for this massive company? But I could hearly find a plastic member of our crew. ...each was very much an individual. But our manager was a different story.