Today marks the beginning of my last week working as a coffee shop barista. Maybe not forever–hey, who knows what the future will bring–but for now. For the foreseeable future.
It’s bittersweet. This is the first job I got in DC, not a week after I made myself at home in a tight, un air-conditioned, vacant loft space in a college friend’s crappy Arlington, Virginia rental house (this isn’t an insult to my college friend–she no longer lives there, but considered it a dump herself. It was an old house that wasn’t well-kept up).
I worked there 15-20 hours a week last summer until I got my temp job in September. During the six months I spent at my 9-5 office job, I worked at the coffee shop on the weekends. My financial well-being was lacking when I moved to DC–teaching in Thailand enriched my life, but certainly not my bank account–and I needed the extra money. Plus, I didn’t know what the future would bring post-temp, and I wanted to ensure I had a back up income. This was an intuitive move–when I started my part-time online teaching job, I needed those coffee shop hours.
I certainly didn’t appreciate the job enough while I had it. In the year and two months of my employment at the coffee shop, I spent more than enough time griping about it. I was hesitant to take the job in the first place–I had already done the barista gig the summer before I moved to Thailand and thought I should try something new. Additionally, I believed that making minimum wage as a college graduate was insulting (granted, DC minimum wage is much higher than the national average, but it was an ego thing–which I’ve since worked to quell). My mom had to give me a pep talk about how IT’S A JOB and you currently don’t have one, which knocked a bit of sense into me. When I got my part-time ESL job and realized I wanted to pursue teaching, I spent more than enough time looking through job postings for additional teaching opportunities, to a future when I wouldn’t have barista at the top of my resume. Also weekends. Oooh, I could not wait until I had a job that didn’t take my weekends away from me.
This summer, I’ve been working a lot on acceptance. Accepting that I’m not where I want to be and that’s okay–that that’s part of being a twenty-something. Hell, that’s part of life sometimes. Accepting that there’s nothing wrong with being a barista at 24, that it is still an important job where I’m helping people (and I’d much rather be helping people in person and moving around at work instead of working in an office all day). It’s been good. It’s been much easier said than done, but I’ve made strides.
As I look back at my time at this coffee shop, I’ve realized how much I’ve learned. I’ve learned a lot about coffee, for one. (Did you know that dark roast has the least amount of caffeine and light roast has the most? More caffeine is extracted from dark roast during the roasting process because it is roasted longer.) I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to work in a busy, team-oriented environment, and I’ve learned how important a good attitude is at work. I’ve met and worked with some great people. I will miss my coworkers. They make my job so much fun. I will miss walking past 1600 Pennsylvania everyday (not because of our UPSTANDING–don’t mind my sarcasm–45th President, but because it’s 1600 PENNSYLVANIA), and I’ll miss serving the Secret Service like it’s nbd (if I haven’t given my coffee shop’s location away yet, go look on a map. It’s not too hard too figure out). I’ll miss serving the regular shop goers, whose orders I know well, and who I’ve gotten to know a little bit.
It’s time to move on, though. I’ve secured a substitute teaching job with a sub staffing agency that serves DC schools. I’m excited and nervous to begin this new journey–excited, because this is what I want to do with my life, and nervous because THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO DO WITH MY LIFE. Additionally, I haven’t taught in a real classroom since Thailand, and I’ve never taught anything other than ESL. How do I interact with students who speak my language?!?!? Ah, I’ll figure it all out. It will be good. Despite my nerves, I’m ready.
It’s time. My time working at a busy, centrally located Downtown DC coffee shop has been an incredible experience, but it’s time to move on.
I feel good about the future. Good things are happening.