Last night at work my boss pointed out a mistake I had made. Without going into vivid detail, a few hundred dollars could have been saved on the company’s budget had I paid more attention to what I was doing. I will admit fault when it came to this mistake. This is also not the first offense for me, however if you were to balance out the good decisions I have made with the bad ones I would see the scale weighing in favor of the good deeds and money saved; my boss sees things differently. He is an older Russian man who have lived here for a number of years, but has not fully adopted American cultures and social skills. So when he called, he expressed his anger and pointed out the mistake I had made and how I have done this in the past. I responded with an, “Ok” to acknowledge what he was saying, to which he responded with, “No! It’s not okay David….”
At this point I realized that because of his anger and lack of understanding, I wasn’t going to win, or have my full point of view understood. It was from then on that I turned into a wall, and absorbed everything he had to say without a verbal response, just an invisible nod in hopes he would tire himself out or realize the silence meant I was paying attention. There is not much for me to say after that, so our conversation ended on a bad note. One of the last things he said was, “If you keep this up, I’m afraid you’re going to have to start looking for another job.” At first I started to worry and panic, and became grumpy for the rest of the night. Then I realized that he is the type of person to praise you one day, then say foul things the next, if not that same night. One of our more veteran employees got called a series of foul names I care not to repeat within the first three hours of his time with the company.
Having felt disrespected and confused as to what he genuinely meant, I began to ponder if I still had what it takes to go out and find a job had I been fired that night. I began to assess my options shortly afterwards. I have a friend who is looking for help from another ambulance company that is based in the valley. The only problem is I would be driving the trucks again which means that I may or may not get off on time, and my freedom to ride whenever I want would be at risk. Then I began to consider other options I could pursuit to pass the time in hopes of finding greener pastures and where else was I lead to, but a coffee shop.
This seed quickly began to grow inside my head and I began looking for barista positions in my area. It was then I realized that I needed to establish myself in an entry level setting before one day pursuing a more desirable location in a boutique, third-wave coffee shop. To my luck I found an open job fair for Peets coffee down in Santa Monica. It seemed like the requirements were simple enough. I had to tweak my resume a little, but if I really wanted to, I had the potential to really nail this interview just to see what was out there and to see if I had what it takes. So that same night I gathered my thoughts and planned to make it to the job fair dressed to impress, and ready to show them I meant business and that I had a passion for the product.
When I left work this morning I cut my hair, worked out at home, bought a job interview outfit, tweaked my resume and began my trip over the hill to try my luck. As an added bonus, I brought with me one of the information cards that came from my newest subscription of beans from Tonx to let them know just how involved with coffee I was.
I made the trip out there just fine. I saw a few other faces who were interested in the position and still felt I had a good chance. While filling out our applications, one of the staff asked the girl next to me if she wanted anything to drink, ensuring her that it would be on the house; she declined the offer. It was right then that I knew things were not going to end well for her. She looked like she just wanted this job to save up for a car when she got out of high school. A second interviewee was offered coffee and he too turned the free coffee down! Do these people not know that this is going to be their job if they get it? Tasting, sampling, and assessing all different types of coffees. I did not hesitate to take them up on their offer when they asked if I would like to order a drink. I got to have a short conversation with one of the baristas there about the Colombian coffee they had on drip and how it was in season and how the elevation the beans were grown in and the roast profile of the coffee presented the finished product to taste in such a way that it fitted the season perfectly. This was mainly because I enjoy coffee talk, but also to let the staff know that I knew what I was talking about, in an unpretentious way.
When it came time for the interview, we stepped outside and began a series of open-ended, but not painfully vague questions. Things like, what interested you about applying here? Availability? What type of work environment works best for you? Sell me something. How do you respond to criticism? What are your work goals?
Without getting too boring, lets just say we established a good connection and things felt well by the both of us when all was said and done. I had a good idea that things were going well because the person behind me being interview finished her last question a little sooner than I did and after her interviewer stepped back inside, she concluded the interview and told her they would contact her when the time came. My interviewer said she was going to try and get me a second interview once we were finished, which I took as a good sign. Something along the lines of her getting someone else to double check and make sure she was picking the right person for the job and that she didn’t make any mistakes. Unfortunately by the time our first interview had ended, the shop was filled with people wanting to interview and we were unable to make the second interview happen that day. Both of us seemed disappointed, but there was nothing that we could do. So we shook hands, and parted ways. She told me that I would be hearing from them soon.
I walked away feeling confidence and concluded my afternoon getting lunch with Mom in the area. I let her know how things went, and that I might have to juggle two jobs at once. At this point, if the coffee shop asked if I was able to work full time, I would strongly consider dropping my current job entirely. It would be a small step down in wages, but there are opportunities to promote, and tips are calculated outside of the wages (not to mention we get medical benefits along with other perks with the job after working a certain amount of hours.) It would be a longer commute than my usual twenty minute drive to North Hollywood too. As I’ve mentioned before, I am at a phase where I want to try new things and saw this as an opportunity to commute on the bike more, save more gas and the headaches of taking the 405 with the rest of the zombies day in and day out. It is about seven miles to get to my current job, and just under twice that distance to get to this coffee gig (with a hill.) There was one point in time where I gave the car I was driving to my mom to have until it broke. I was commuting on the bike full time and had gotten used to the daily treks across the valley.
I see this as another one of those unique experiences with the potential to learn a lot. Not just about the job, but about myself and what it is I want to do with my life. I also justified things by using this coffee gig to keep me busy if I were to be put on a waiting list to get into a nursing program. I hope that I am able to balance out both jobs for the time being. If push comes to shove, I am looking towards the new journey into the coffee industry (if only to just see if it’s the right thing for me.) I know I always have another company to fall back on, and am no longer afraid to question if things will work out for me or not. Some of the variables I am unable to control end up getting the best of my thoughts.
The time has now come to simply relax, and wait for something to happen. Also to begin to get my stuff together so I can make these future deadlines for nursing programs. I have now gotten excited at the possibilities this new job can bring. I’ll be able to say I’ve worked at an established coffee chain and that I am able to perform the tasks as those who I admire in the coffee world.
Here’s to new journeys; thanks boss!
P.S I am sad to say that although I loved that shirt, I had to return it because it was entirely too small (XS to be exact.) Better luck next time.