Boston Herald: Christopher Cristwell, the shirtless Starbucks barista who sings about his disgruntled co-workers and mocks fussy customers on YouTube, was fired in the middle of his shift yesterday afternoon in Chowchilla, Calif.
“In a way, I did them a favor,” the 25-year-old musician told the Working Stiff in a phone interview. “I saw this as the only way those of us on the lowest rungs of the ladder can make any changes. They obviously didn’t see me as a threat because they let me work for a week since my first meeting with human resources.”
Although his “Starbucks Rant Song” has attracted only a modest 29,000-plus hits since late July, Cristwell’s video has spread virally with company employees on Facebook and Web forums such as Starbucks Gossip. Wearing a plain green apron while playing the guitar, he sprinkles mild profanity throughout the song and ends with a disclaimer that it doesn’t represent the views of the company or himself.
“This song is not 100 percent autobiographical,” Cristwell said. “The funny part is that I truly consider myself a people person, and I’m really passionate about coffee.”
“In any high stress environment, you need to have healthy ways to break the tension,” he added. “If you go work at Starbucks, I bet you that after your shift you’ll be complaining about the same things to your friends.”
Starbucks spokesman Alan Hilowitz was not available for comment last night. But in a prepared statement on Monday, he confirmed that management met with Cristwell last week to discuss his motivation.
“While Christopher was expressing his own views in the video, the disparaging remarks about our customers and company are unacceptable and out of line with our commitment to our customers and partners,” he wrote. Starbucks, which operates more than 17,000 stores worldwide, refers to its employees as “partners.”
Customers take the brunt of the criticism in the “Rant Song.” Latinos are slammed for ordering fancy caramel Frappuccinos, overweight customers are mocked for putting too much sugar syrup in their drinks and parents with noisy kids are told, “I just want to draw a middle finger on your cup.”
Aaron Nurick, a professor of management and psychology at Bentley University, regards the video as “crude and over-the-top satire” that puts Starbucks in an awkward position.
“They just can’t ignore it, and they can’t blow it out of proportion and risk drawing even more attention to it,” he noted. “The video does seem to be striking a chord with his fellow baristas. Starbucks could use this as an opportunity for a teachable moment.”
Cristwell, who is taking classes to become an EMT, expressed no regrets over recording the song or making it public. “I made the video for my fellow baristas,” he said. “I can live with the consequences.”