A year ago today I gave myself the best early birthday present I could think of.
I quit my job.
I left a 25-30+ hour job, WITH BENEFITS, at Starbucks, to roll the dice on a seasonal job at Crate & Barrel with no guarantee of a regular gig. It had the potential to blow up in my face and be the dumbest move I'd ever make in my working life.
Since then, people have asked me, "do you miss Starbucks?"
The answer: not for one second.
But, the truth is this : I don't miss the job, I do miss the people.
Through Starbucks I've met some interesting people over the years.
In my years as a barista, I've met some the greatest people I've ever known. People I'm lucky to call friend. People who I've stayed in contact with no matter what store I've worked for. People who give me a heartfelt " I'm proud of you" when I share my ups. And offer to buy me a beer and let me bend their ear when I share my downs.
These people I take with me wherever I go.
But I've also seen some of the laziest sacks of crap in the history of crap.. get promoted over me. I've seen some of the worst examples of how to treat a person reflected in how the customers treat the baristas. (Not all the customers were bad). I've been cursed at. I've been called a number of racist things. I've even been spit on. In my last year wearing the apron, I had the misfortune of working for one of the most condescending, pompous sacks of rat shit this earth has ever produced. Someone who would take daily jabs at the way I did my job. Someone who wouldn't give me 3 Saturday's off in a row so I could take a weekend class (this put me a semester behind). Someone who would say things like, "you need to work on (it was different everyday) but, you know, it's not all your fault. You were trained poorly cause you weren't trained by me" and "I noticed you get a venti drink each day, this is a waste of our cups. Do you NEED to have a venti? We have to save product. Either bring in your own cup or get a smaller size."
A conversation in which I asked, "what do I have to do to move up in this company?" was met with a smirk, a chuckle to himself and a change of subject. ( that was, in the end, the final straw).
These awful people, I let go... And wash away their negativity.
Working at c&b was so different. Apples & oranges, homie. The managers would say, "great job" and It would be a legit compliment. I was getting good feedback and enjoyed the work I was doing. It was like a 10lb weight being lifted off my chest. Though I was working, it almost seemed like a vacation from the stress I faced daily.
Some of my regular customers from Starbucks, ones who used to say "you're the best" as I handed them their drink, followed me into my new job and started coming into crate ... Because they knew I'd give them great customer service...
And then... When my seasonal job drew to a close... I was let go.
For 2 weeks, I didn't have a job. It was a scary time and I began to worry I'd put our future in jeopardy.
And then, one day as I drove to class, the manager called and said, " Tom,
you did such a great job this season. We have an opening and would love for you to come back and work for us."
A year later, I'm still there.
You know, once, just before I left Starbucks , my manager said, "you're just a guy who just punches in and punches out and doesn't do much extra"... Last month, at C&B, I was named one of the Associates of the quarter, for great customer service and "always willing to lend an extra hand".
In the past year I've gone from just sales to also doing weekend demonstrations for products we have in the store to interviewing for a management position ( though I didn't get it, to even be considered was great and seemingly unfathomable at the bux) to, now, helping train this years seasonal workers.
The customers who recognize me from my old job sometimes comment how much happier I look.
It's been a quick year and I just wanted to comment on it.... Cause that's what I do. I write. And, for taking the time to read, I thank you.
If nothing else from this writing , take this away:
I punch in each day... Hustle, help people when I can and do my job to the best of my ability. I try to do this each day, like I've always done. Before, it used to be a struggle to find the strength to get up, put on my uniform and go to work. The difference between this year and the one before it is that though I do go home exhausted... I do not go home defeated.