Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Bitter Barista Publicly Outed and Fired

A Seattle coffee shop employee was fired after being named as the snarky, sour blogger behind the Twitter famous handle ‘The Bitter Barista’. His satirical tweets caught the attention of a community online, who shared and appreciated his rough style of delivering the truth of what it is really like to stand behind the café counter. 

Matt Watson Aka. The Bitter Barista

Matt Watson, 30, had become quite the online sensation while keeping his identity and the coffee shop that he worked at anonymous. Providing a real world bitter narrative of the difficulties of working in customer service.

After 2 weeks of being live he gained the attention of Facebook and Twitter, though not all of it was positive. Some believed it wasn’t appropriate to bring attention to the dim-witted things that come out of people’s mouths. It is my opinion that these people who protested had never worked in customer service, or had recognized some of the tweets as things they have said. Rude people are everywhere unfortunately, and if venting about the said rude people on social media is what helps him get through the day then I see no problem with it. Not to mention he brings joy to others with similar experiences.

"No, swearing at me will not get you better service," he tweeted. "It will get you decaf."

Unfortunatley Watson did not remain anonomys for long, after Sprudge.com, a gossip and news site did some digging and outed him as the face behind The Bitter Barista calling his tweets an ‘all-out assult on whomever walks through the door of [the] café’ Sprudge.com writer Llewellyn Sinclair added “Blog work like this probably shouldn’t be encouraged, which is why blogs like Bitter Barista need to be shown the cold light of day.”

Watson maintains that his blog was entirely satire, and though some posts about his manager and customers were not-so-nice, it was based on a small percentage of his time spent working at All City Coffee.  He told the Seattle Times that his blog was about "the 5 percent who I guess make our job more difficult and don’t treat us as human beings’ but that he had “a good personal relationship with 95 percent of customers."

Despite this, Sprudge.Com’s interference and public ‘outing’ of Watson was deemed a good enough reason for his boss Seth Levy to fire him.
"He was writing about his boss during business hours," Levy said. "I represent the business, the customers and the staff. I can’t endorse what he was saying, whether humorous or not. It puts me in a difficult position, where if I don’t respond that means I endorse what he’s saying.”

Luckily for Watson it seems like he won’t be out of a job for long. He’s received offers from multiple other coffee houses who have a sense of humor about his blog. There are even plans of turning The Bitter Barista into a coffee table book.

After all the drama, the Bitter Barista is back online, just now with an added disclaimer:

Interested in ‘getting bitter’? Click the link.

I find this story slightly frustrating; though I am glad that Matt was able to come out ahead my annoyance comes from those who were involved in revealing his identity. The fact that Matt was outed and put on blast by a third party company with no involvment in the situation is un-fair to me. I feel if All City Café has a bone to pick with anyone it should be Sprudge.com for publicly revealing Watsons identity and in turn the café that is referred to in the blog.

Watson made no mention of the café in his posts, so it wasn’t a story until Sprudge.com made it one. There are hundreds of personalities on Twitter and Facebook who poke fun at the world and bring light to annoyances to get a laugh, is it really nesscary to bring all these people to ‘the cold light of day’ and prosecute them in the workplace due to it?

Here is Sprudge.com’s opinion on the matter:

Sprudge.com makes mention of  “rape jokes, references to violence and animal abuse, as well as endangering customers with food allergies and dietary restrictions” Though I have not seen any posts by The Bitter Barista that mentions rape, violence or animal abuse and not sure if that is just an attempt to make Mr.Watson look bad. I feel like it is worth mentioning that it is a bit of a stretch to say that he was ‘endangering’ customers due to their dietary restrictions. And I feel like it is a serious accusation, considering no past customers have come forward to claim they had received product that made them sick. Sprudge.com clearly needs to learn to not take everything they see on the internet literally.

As for the manager’s decision to fire Watson I understand why that decision was made. After Sprudge.com had turned this into a story there was really no other choice then to let Watson go. For the sake of the customers who regularly visit All City Café as well as the manager that had posts directed at them. I can see why Seth Levy felt this decision was necessary in order to maintain the integrity of the café.

On the other hand if Sprudge.com had not featured the story and Seth Levy had found out about the blog through co-workers or in any other non-public way I would expect that Mr. Watson should still have his job. The blog was an expression of Mr. Watsons’ personality and thoughts, and without mention of the All City Café there would be no grounds for his dismissal. 

I still feel like it should have never gotten to this point, but do to the circumstances I understand why Mr. Watson was fired. 

By: Lindsey Clark

Read more: http://www.upi.com/blog/2013/02/13/Bitter-Barista-fired-over-snarky-blog/7621360772065/#ixzz2Q4S3a4yq

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