I enjoy working at Starbucks.
I come home at 9:00 PM, smelling strongly of coffee and surprised by my exhaustion. When I applied for a job at Starbucks, I knew it would be a challenge. However, I thought I would be different - able to leave that day's struggles at the door. My expectations were soon subverted.
A shift always begins with punching into the electronic timekeeping system. While the job may seem romantic - whirling around and creating beautiful cappuccinos and lattes has a certain appeal - in reality, most of my tasks is comprised of keeping the store clean. Nonetheless, the camaraderie developed between my colleagues and me make my twenty-five hours a week in their company a true pleasure. Some might find the daily routine of it all - grinding coffee, taking orders, emptying the trash, brewing coffee, sweeping and mopping the floors - monotonous, but I find the tasks grounding. No matter what else is happening in my life, these chores stay the same. They have made me value stability; of having a circle of individuals and a place to where I can return, and be supported, sans the judgement of family or close friends.
My coworkers and I come from different backgrounds. Many are mired in the workload of community college and work, often trading academic success for another Starbucks shift. I am one of two still in high school. My job is not mandated by any dire financial circumstances. On the contrary, my mother has offered to pay me to stop working there.
I thought that incidents at Starbucks would not affect me once I punched out. But like school, simply walking through a door does not erase emotion and history. They manifest in different ways: swollen feet, an aching back, homework, and friendships. The most distressing events replay in my mind on a repeat. A disgruntled customer threatening to call the district manager, frustrated at the miscommunication between us, accidentally shaking an open container of soy milk and to coat myself in a layer of sticky discomfort, and other routine humiliations suffered.
My job has created a new dynamic in my family. Whether they care to admit it or not, I have sensed a newfound respect from my mother and father, as they understand that I can balance school, extracurriculars, and work.
Though I have had the fortune to grow up without financial strain, working at Starbucks imbues me with a sense of independence. The feeling of spending someone else's hard-earned money is uncomfortable. Yet no longer am I dependent on my parents for permission to complete certain purchases, or activities. My childish whims are indulged by me, not them. The need to feel grateful towards them is substantially lessened. The ways that I indulge them are more material: the sandwiches, pastries and iced tea that appear in the refrigerator upon my return home at the end of a closing shift.
I enjoy working at Starbucks. At the end of the evening, my colleagues and I can laugh at the day's small crises. At school, norms are different. My school friends face obstacles like the revoking of privileges by parents. My Starbucks colleagues' problems are more in tune with the real world; one woman often discusses her struggle to wake up at 2:45 AM, in order to arrive at work by 3:45 AM and earn the income necessary to pay her rent. I take pride in my job because it is a preliminary foray into the adult world. Whether 40 or 17 years old, employees are treated/considered equally. Even as a minor, I am trusted to represent the company, something I consider quite significant. It is the only space where I am truly treated as an adult - and I, in turn, can answer as one.