I first heard the call to put on my green apron in spring of 2013. I had a great job at Panera that had been worth the 35 minute commute since September. I was not a regular at Starbucks by any means, but I randomly found myself there more and more studying for my incredibly difficult economics classes. One day my sister took me through the drive thru and I was blown away by the genuine, yet incredibly fast, connection the barista running the drive thru and at the window made with me- from the passenger seat. I was honestly moved on some sort of spiritual level.
The opening at Panera caught my attention because of the quality of the customer service, the food, and the non-profit stores. But these experiences at Starbucks were so much more than how well I was taken care of as a customer and how much I enjoyed my bagel. The transaction was just an opening for human engagement and this is what Starbucks has cultivated and capitalized on and cultivated and capitalized on… Neither of which could happen without the other and I wanted nothing more than to be a part of it.
My hiring process consisted of me blowing up the phone asking for the store manager (who remains the most incredible boss anyone could hope for) until she made time for the most efficient interview ever: it took all of maybe three minutes for her to recognize my passion for and ability to create what Starbucks calls “inspired moments”.
Turns out high capacity human engagement, with people who get it and people are just there for their coffee (and very clearly don't recognize the individuality and value of the kid providing it for them) alike, is incredibly demanding. Due to this and a few other personal factors, I left within a year- after putting my notice in the second time since the first time my manager asked me to stay. She knew I was being an idiot even when I did not. I was released from the bonds of the siren to my own dismay.
It took me 18+ months to stop resisting and I was rehired in January. At nearly 25 years old with a bachelor’s degree, this sounded like my worst nightmare. But I honestly don't remember ever being happier than I have been this year [you know, in spite of the shit show that is the POTUS election and other news…]. I’m at my store almost every single day, whether I’m working, doing school work for the graduate course I just started, job hunting, or just making an excuse to go by to get my tips or the new schedule so I can see my partners and my regulars. The community centered around our little establishment combined with getting to do something I’m really good at (and always finding ways to improve at) everyday has been the best consolation for my crushing debt burden and living at home.
When I say “I’m just getting through each day”, that shouldn’t be taken as a complacent Eeyore-esque aside. My job is exhausting- physically, mentally, and emotionally. I’m struggling to manage a variety of health problems that cause fatigue, ranging from sleep apnea to a vitamin D deficiency. When I’m awake for just a few hours outside of work and grad school reading/writing, not a lot of workouts or housework get done, much less consistent job hunting or professional development. Then there are the usual struggles of being an adult child in your parents’ home…
I have such big dreams and strong ambition for my career in spite of this little limbo I’m caught in. But slowly but surely I see myself getting there and I’m learning to recognize my limits, not push them to my own demise, and keep enjoying my short human existence.
Three months before returning to Starbucks, I had a series of mental breakdowns that lead to walking out of a well-paying (but miserably unchallenging) job and having two car accidents within a week and then becoming a tearful hermit for two months before I discovered and resolved the medical cause of the roller coaster I was living- birth control. During the time of my college graduation- for which I was in bed with a stomach virus instead of walking-, I pretty much hit rock bottom. The worst part of the entire situation was being a lonely extrovert; I found out who my friends were based on who put forth extra effort to spend time with me when I was car-less and just let me cry to them to show they cared.
Being a partner again has been so much more than a “for now” gig for me. What I’ve needed the most after the darkness my life was last winter was meaningful human connection. The Starbucks mission statement is this:
My job is to create inspired moments- that is the value I was hired to deliver. But this has been what has revived and sustained me- caffeine for the human spirit.
Pouring my heart into it with you for the past 8 months has left my heart overflowing.
One cup, one person, one neighborhood is how this company was built. Whatever is happening at corporate, this is how we keep the dream alive. Teamwork makes the Green work.
(formerly "Bare Barista Threads" and "Memoirs of a Pizza Girl")
With a year of delivering pizza, two and a half years as a barista, and some more time in the trenches, I have plenty of stories, thoughts, and musings. The days that threatened to break me all the while built me. I want to help others in my profession view their work as an opportunity, too. This is my soap box.