I’ve been a little too angsty in my past posts (at least that’s what my best friend tells me). For those who don’t know me, you know it’s not my style. In person, most of the time, I’m peppy, optimistic and supportive of others.
Sometimes I am too passive, though, and I’ve been trying to work on releasing my anger. Apparently, it’s coming out on my barista lifestyle. Built up anger, plus too many years serving coffee and dealing with some not-so-nice people, have made me counting down the days until I don’t have to wear a velcro hat, which gets stuck in my hair, or the all boring black uniform, or have dry hands from the chemicals they’re constantly in, or deal with my chipped unpolished nails. It sounds stupid, but it’ll be nice to be able to get a manicure and not have to remove the polish the next day.
Anyway, yes, I am looking forward to quitting the corporate coffee business. Even if I do decide to serve coffee to the public again, I know the values I want in the company I work for. A future post will include my dream coffee shop requirements.
With that said, here is a top 5 list of positive things the corporate Coffee Giant has brought to my life.
Being a writer, I generally am a loner when it comes to my work. As a barista, it’s impossible to do everything by yourself, though at times, I tend to try. Sometimes it’s my own inability to ask for help, and other times, it’s my co-workers not stepping up. But overall, I have learned to work well with my fellow baristas. When you have a great team, work doesn’t quite feel like work, and I value that in all aspects of my life now.
…And I’m not talking about coffee. Yes, people do come to coffee shops for the caffeine, but I have found most of our clientele come to the same coffee spot, multiple times a day, for a human connection. I have had customers become best friends. I still keep in touch with so many regulars over the years. Much like a bartender, baristas learn the ups and downs of our customers’ lives, and they learn ours. So many regulars hate new hires, not necessarily out of fear they’ll mess up their drink, but because they have a relationship with us. We become a home away from home. Even I seek that connection on occasion from a coffee shop. I have plenty of friends and family, but there is something special about a connection you make outside of home and work that makes it unique. Maybe it makes us feel good to know human skills still exist during a time when technology is at our forefront. Or maybe we just appreciate good customer service.
My biggest fear in life was the death of my dreams. I struggled to find ways to publish novels, run magazines, that required me to take off days to interview celebrities, all while finding myself and figure out how to make income doing it. The barista life helped my dreams live on. Offering me health benefits, 401k, and stock options, along with a steady paycheck, becoming a corporate barista was the best thing I could have done to help me move forward. On a barista paycheck, I was able to move to completely new states, save for traveling, fund advertising for my books, and so much more.
I have met so many different people through the coffee giant. Old people, young people, crazy ones, and super sweet ones. People from different countries, famous people, homeless people… I could go on. I used to think if I didn’t like someone at work, I couldn’t like them outside of it. Definitely not the case. 75% of the people I hated working with wound up being some great friends…and vice versa. This goes for customers too. They may be brief and moody as a customer, but once you get to know them, you’ll find them to be good people. I am not a judgmental person, but I am still human, so judgment is always made in some way. I try not to make snap decisions on people anymore. Humans are much more complex than that. I am willing to give people a chance before deciding if they’re someone I want in my life outside of coffee… Unless of course I see you kick a puppy. There’s no redeeming yourself from that.
Sure, coffee is a social thing nowadays. Much like going for a drink or going to eat, coffee has become the new “get-together”. However, I do not find coffee as an effective energy boost. In fact, I find it depletes my energy, only making me want more coffee. I also find I crave something with my coffee…sugar and extra milk, whip cream (before my vegan days), and a snack. If you can have one small cup of black coffee a day, more power to you, but not me. And forget about it if I miss a cup, or 3, one day… The withdrawal headaches are awful. Nope, from now on, I’m a strictly tea girl. Trying to ween myself off of black tea and stick to green and herbal is another battle in itself. Also, are all those fancy coffee drinks worth the price and calories? (You’re probably saying yes because you’re an addict, but that’s just my snap judgments coming back, so knock yourself out.) Keep in mind that I will probably still partake in coffee drinks from time to time, especially while I’m in Seattle (the coffee mecca). So really, I’m not judging you – I’m only judging myself for falling for the gimmick over and again!
There you have it. I will try not to let the grouchiness of being in customer service for so long outshine the wonderful blessings and people who came into my life because of it. Once I leave in October, I will still step into the coffee giant on occasion, and remember the good times, and probably annoy the barista with my “please make sure that’s soy” reminders just like customers do to me. But I hope I will always remember to be patient and kind to my baristas, and make connections with them like the ones I have cherished.