|Ms. Hen drinks a gingerbread latte during the holiday season|
Ms. Hen worked at Starbucks for several years. She will not say how long, but she likes to joke sometimes that she will not admit the length of time she worked there unless under oath in a court of law. She also likes to say that she could have her PhD in Starbucks, but she doesn’t. She left Starbucks recently, and has a new job. She never meant to stay as long as she did, it just happened that way. There were some great things and not so great things about working at the biggest coffee company in the world.
Ms. Hen loves coffee. She never goes a day without at least two cups. When she worked at Starbucks, she got to drink as much coffee as she wanted while she worked, and everyone who works there gets a pound of coffee, a box of tea, or some Via (instant coffee) to take home every week. Ms. Hen learned that Starbucks coffee is one of the most caffeinated in the world, so even now, when she does not have it, she needs it. The company transforms their employees (known as partners) into junkies, so when they leave, they will still be addicted, and they will pledge their allegiance to the Siren forever.
Customers at Starbucks might wonder why the baristas are so happy. Ms. Hen doesn’t know exactly why, but putting caramel on drinks and asking people if they want whipped cream puts a person in a good mood. Yes, some customers can be cranky, but the transactions are usually quick, so if someone is a jerk, they’re gone fast. Ms. Hen has never waited tables, but she thinks that would be more difficult, because when a person is a server, they have to be all over a customer, like when they’re demanding a new salt shaker, etc.
Ms. Hen read the book HOW STARBUCKS SAVED MY LIFE, and when she read it she didn't like it. It was written by a man who had been a corporate executive, and he lost everything, but he got a job at Starbucks and it made him happy. Ms. Hen thought he wrote this book so he could name-drop all the celebrities that he encountered in his previous career, and so people would come to his store and schmooze with him. But Ms. Hen thinks there’s something to working at Starbucks that makes a person happy.
If a person is sad, and she has to go to work and put on a happy face, and pretend like everything is okay in her life, then that job will make her happy. Fake it till you make it, is the expression that fits this situation. It’s easy to pretend like you’re happy when you’re making lattes (maybe not so much frappuccinos), and if you pretend you’re happy long enough, you become happy. So Starbucks might not save a person’s life, but it might make her outlook better. It’s easy to let the rude and obnoxious customers slide off when a person is on high-octane caffeine, surrounding by people who have joy and hope in their lives. And since Ms. Hen worked there for so long, she got to know a lot of the customers, and some of the regulars were perfectly nice people.
Yes, Starbucks partners are mostly young, and even though Ms. Hen was older than the majority of the kids there, she got along with them. Starbucks partners are primarily creative, interesting people who have cool lives and dreams for the future. Some other places Ms. Hen has worked are not like this.
One of the great things about Starbucks is that it’s a billion dollar corporation and the company shares the wealth. Every so often, the partners would get some extra money. But one time Ms. Hen researched how much money the company actually made and she gagged. Her few thousand dollars seemed like a pittance compared to how much money actually was in the company. Like the Romans, "Give them Bread and Circuses," but now they give them coffee and a few stocks to keep the peasants happy.
Ms. Hen worked at Starbucks for too long, she realizes. It’s not that she didn’t want to leave; she wanted to find something better. She spent so long standing on her feet, that her feel still hurt sometimes. And her teeth are a mess from all the sugar she ate and drank.
Even though Ms. Hen is glad she does not work at Starbucks anymore, she misses it occasionally. She misses being surrounded by people who work together and have happiness in their lives. But there is a world other than Starbucks. And life goes on.
|Ms. Hen with Ethiopia coffee|