A Starbucks barista quit her job after her manager asked her to reschedule putting down her family dog so she wouldn't miss her shift
Auralee Smith in her Starbucks uniform and with her dog, Gandy. Courtesy of Auralee Smith.
A Starbucks employee said she quit after her boss asked her to move her sick dog.
Auralee Smith worked at Starbucks for over two years before quitting, calling the culture "callous."
Her beloved rescue dog, Gandy, was her "best friend" until she was diagnosed with cancer and had to be put down.
A 21-year-old college student quit her job as a Starbucks barista after her manager asked her to reschedule an appointment to drop off her dog so she wouldn't miss work.
Auralee Smith said her family's rescue dog, Gandy, is her "best friend." The family adopted Gandy when she was about eight years old, and Gandy was "really scared and stuff when we got her," Smith told Insider.
"My family helped her come out of her shell," Smith said. "It was like she was finally happy not to be in a stressful, horrible situation."
The family joked that Gandy was a "cat dog" because she loved napping in the sun. Smith, who teaches piano in New Jersey, said Gandy would "sing along" when she played the piano.
"I would play a note and she would try to pair it with howling," Smith said. "It was really, really cute. She loved that."
It was devastating when Gandy's family discovered she had cancer and the vet advised against surgery due to Gandy's advanced age. As she grappled with the pain of putting Gandy down, Smith said the last thing she expected was her Starbucks manager "literally asking me to change the day I put her to sleep," as Smith did said she asked to cover her shift.
Auralee Smith's dog, Gandy. Courtesy of Auralee Smith.
"I'm sorry, but I'm trying to find cover for my Sunday shift. I have to put my dog to sleep on Saturday night and I will be an absolute mess. She's my best friend," Smith said in a text to her boss in February, adding, "I'm going to text some people and see if they can help."
"I really need you to find cover," Smith's manager replied. "I understand it's a difficult situation but you have enough notice so if you don't come it won't be approved. Is there a way to do it one night when you're not working the next day?”
After more than two years at Starbucks, Smith said texting was the last straw.
"I read the last sentence and I audibly thought, 'Oh. What on earth? How?' How was that deciding what to say to myself?" said Smith. "That was such a hard response for me, just asking me if I could change the day I put her to sleep."
In response to her manager, Smith wrote: "I will do my best to find cover. I am sorry this is inconvenient but it is the family dog and she is very ill and my family have decided to do this. I can't reschedule my dog check-in for Starbucks. This is also that I officially put in my fortnight. I have worked for this company for 2.5 years and I appreciate what it has done for me but I am ready to move on.
While it was annoying, Smith said she wasn't entirely surprised by her manager's reaction and didn't blame her entirely. It's Starbucks as a company, she said, that has cultivated an environment where employees are overworked and underappreciated. It has become a common refrain among employees at the coffee chain, many of whom have unionized.
"To me, that's just the mentality that Starbucks fosters behind the scenes," Smith said. "Throughout my time at Starbucks, it got worse and worse that the mentality resulted in someone asking me to change the day I put my dog to bed. I was already feeling burnt out and stuff. Then, just as I saw that, that was it."
A Starbucks spokesman said the text messages Smith posted didn't show the full picture. In text messages shared with Insiders, Smith's manager expressed sympathy for her situation but claimed that Smith needed to find cover for her shift.
“The health and well-being of our partners is and will remain our top priority. In this case, we were able to support that partner to cover her work at that time," a Starbucks spokesman said in a statement.
Smith said she received overwhelming support after posting screenshots of the exchange on Twitter and Reddit after taking time to mourn Gandy, but she remains frustrated at how the company tried to foster a big, happy family atmosphere , while staff worked in tense conditions where customers wanted to quickly grab their coffee and get out.
"Because they've become more toxic and callous that way, they still - they mean the company - still hold on to that idea so firmly that they're trying to be a little family-owned coffee shop or something and not the McDonald's under the coffee shops," Smith said. "It's not a small corner shop and they expect you to behave that way while everything is understaffed, toxic and callous."
Read the original article on Insider
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