What it’s like behind the Counter at a Coffee Shop

Anyone who knows me knows that I am in love with coffee. It starts my day, and it’s so common across the world. Far from being a simple thing to me, it’s one of the best things about my day. I wake up really early in the morning and make sure it’s one of the first things I do. It’s a constant companion, and has been for years. I’ve written about it before. There’s even some work on my site about it. I have a comic series I’m working on and I’ve now worked at four coffee shops around Marin. But none of these match how I feel about my new job, that I finally finished my first week at. The team is amazing, and we wrapped up the weekend listening to Abba, The Beatles, and a morning of Jazz while we all did extremely hard work in the cafe. I’ve worked a lot of places in my life, but nothing is like this. Why? Because I forget about everything when I’m behind the counter, which I’m at for most of the day. I support the staff, I make coffee and tea, organize the pastry case, clean up, make drinks, and I listen to anything our customers have to say.

My coworkers are amazing, and I love them all. I truly think the work we do is important. The community is incredible. I genuinely love learning about the town, and I see so much from where I am. Helping people in their busy lives, helping them on a break during their day, is incredible. That shop is a place of pure joy, and I try to make sure I communicate that to anyone who comes into the shop. In the last week, I’ve helped people navigate the pastry case, I’ve helped kids count their change for something to eat. I’ve served folks from all ages, so many different cultures. I’ve seen America and I believe in it. This is a vibrant and incredible part of the world. I’ve made summer drinks for people to try, I’ve served so many people. I think I help over a hundred people a day.

It’s almost a blur as it happens, but no moment is lost on me. It’s difficult. The way the orders are described, you almost take a sample of spoken word and hold it deep within the mind while you translate it across the computer terminal. After months doing this it’s quite easy, but I have to be mindful the entire time. No single moment is lost on me, and I’m not faking it. I am genuinely completely positive almost the entire day. On breaks I don’t even check twitter anymore. I just sit and look at the clouds, I gaze across the town square and see the daily life of the town square. Every moment is incredible.

There was a significant event that happened today though, I learned deeply that you can’t take anything for granted. People I met that I felt such strong emotion toward would be leaving to go back to school, and I met someone who was blind who needed help finding things to eat. I didn’t even know she was until she mentioned it. I’m learning that you can’t judge anyone by first glance. You have to strongly watch and believe the best in people. Listening is more than we think it is. It’s the strongest sense of cadence and specificity.

The shop is arranged so that I don’t see how long the line is to the register, I just work with each moment as it happens. I don’t even count the time. When it slows down I see two large windows opening out to the town square. On the upper right is a poster decrying ignorance, hate, corruption, sexism, ignorance and hate. It’s defining how I see the world. After a week of full days watching and thinking about this. I’m growing and experiencing things that couldn’t happen in any other place in the world. I’m giving and helping every single second of the day.

The community is incredible, and I’ve learned just how good most people are. I think in the last week I helped close to a thousand people. And you know what, the very few negative experiences were probably less than a decimal of a percent. This was my first week. I have no idea what a year of doing this might be. And the work is exausting but fun. Even doing the dishes is fun. There’s not a single thing I don’t love about the job. This was one of the best experiences of my life. I still have no idea what’s going on in the world, and sometimes I just don’t think about it at all. So many things have changed. But I know good friends when I find them. I know just how vibrant the community is. So many voices, so many stories, so many amazing people. I’m just grateful to be there. And toward the end of the day, the voices all come together. This is sacred ground. And I see something sublime. The community, and the people around us, are all kind and wonderful. I’ve seen it, and that’s what I truly needed to see. I believe in people. You have to see the best in them. When you’re just starting out they know and they’re good to you. And that is something I needed to see. This cafe could change my life, and already has, and as I sit here I almost can’t imagine how anything could have ever happened that was more beautiful than today in the cafe. And when I sat outside on break my phone lost its power, so I Iooked out into the town, my gaze seeing what it could see, and then up into the sky. There was almost no sound, the clouds were constantly changing shape across the sky, drifting slowly, and I thought of nothing else, but the day, not as one thing or another, but as an endless flow of kindness, wonder, and love across time, and that is what I saw every moment of the day.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: