At Starbucks, baristas are expected to engage with customers on a level beyond a simple “hello.” The commitment to this idea is so deep, in fact, that the coffee chain gives its employees a customer connection score—a controversial practice that rates each store’s ability to relate to customers.
As part of this commitment to customer engagement, employees will ask customers questions about their hobbies, days, and life in general. While this can result in some fun interactions, it can also breed awkward situations, as TikTok user Onyinye (@enangha) recently noted.
In a clip with over 19,000 views, Onyinye writes, “Me trying to come up with a response at the drive-thru after I asked a customer how their day was going and they say they’re going to a funeral.” The video shows the TikToker stammering as they try to come up with something to say in response.
@enangha So glad my manager brought this topic as an example during my training bc id choke 😭😭 #starbucksbarista #starbuckspartner #fypシ #drivethru #starbucks ♬ original sound – theylovemeefr
While Onyinye’s video is premised on the idea that she doesn’t know what to do in such a situation, she notes in the caption that she actually does know how to handle it—in fact, she’s been trained for it.
“So glad my manager brought this topic as an example during my training bc id choke,” she wrote in the caption.
The TikToker had previously sparked discussion after claiming she always wore her training pin so customers would be more forgiving, even though she is no longer in training at the chain.
In the comments section of this video, users shared their own stories of awkward or strange customer interactions.
“One time I asked a customer if they were doing anything fun today and they said yeah I’m going to radiation therapy,” recalled a user.
“When I worked somewhere a customer came in a suit and I tried to make small talk by asking what the occasion was… it was a funeral,” added another.
“Had a customer in drive thru tell me she was on the way to the hospital bc her bf got hit head on yesterday,” stated a third.
“Someone told me that their uncle died in the drive through today and i misheard and said awesome,” admitted an additional commenter.
Others simply detailed how they would handle such a situation.
“‘Damn.. so your total is,’” joked a user.
“I say ‘I hope you have a peaceful ceremony and can find closure,’” wrote a second.
The Daily Dot reached out to Onyinye via Instagram direct message and Starbucks via email.