Below is the essay I wrote for my Personal Essay class, inspired by the essays found on www.thisibelieveorg:
I Believe in Service with a Smile
Like most people attending community college, I found myself in need of the classic part-time job, circa 2008. I knew I couldn’t go back to retail – that life of return policy debates and my tolerance for the average person’s ignorance had long since passed. So, I turned to what I thought would be the next best thing…which turned out to be only the second biggest mistake of my life.
I had gone through six, forty-hour weeks of recipe training, tastings and computer simulations to arrive at this moment. Dan looked at me with an excited smile and placed the uniform in my hands. When I returned from the ladies room, nervous to finally get out in the field, he lightly tapped my cheek and said, “Looks like you’re almost ready. Just put on your smile and get out there!”
The first five minutes after I put on green apron were my last five minutes of happiness. This was due to the fact that up until this point, I never realized just how much you could hate complete strangers.
I applied to Starbucks at a job fair hosted by my college and was called back for an interview the next day. After a brief conversation with the general manager, I was hired and sent off to coffee school (yeah…that’s a real thing). I spent the next six weeks traveling forty minutes to Farmingdale in order to master the art of steaming milk, the precision of cross-stitch construction using caramel, and memorizing the recipe to every drink on the menu. Needless to say, when I walked into work for my first day on the floor – I was fucking ready.
Because I had gotten impeccable scores on my drink exams, I was put on the bar and immediately began trying to produce the drinks of the morning rush’s many customers. To my surprise, it wasn’t that difficult – you make enough caramel macchiatos and eventually you stop needing to look at your hand.
As my time at Starbucks went on, however, I began to notice a pattern – me being an employee didn’t matter. At first, I thought this self-righteousness and particularity was a response to me being a new addition to the staff. I understand the importance of starting off your morning right. If you come in and Jen makes your grande Americano with steamed soy every morning, chances are Jen knows how much soy you take and how much foam you like. So, when you see slanty-eyed Lauren behind the bar you get a little worried and start backseat barista-ing…I get it.
But, if you tell me to make sure your skinny vanilla latte (which is advertised to be made with non-fat milk and sugar-free syrup so as to cut back on your sugar and fat intake) with non-fat – chances are I hate your fucking guts. Similarly, if you proceed to tell me to “make sure” it’s non-fat, after seeing me day after day for the past seven months, because you can “totally tell the difference”, I have four words to say to you, “No, you fucking can’t.”
And do you know how I know that? I know that because your snarky attitude deserves passive aggressive justice. Get an umbrella my friend, because I’m about to rain down some knowledge – your precious skinny vanilla latte has been made with two percent for the past six months and twenty-nine days.
So, even though your existence causes me physical and auditory discomfort and I look forward to the days where I don’t have to see your condescending expression, I believe in service with a smile because, let’s be honest – you can’t tell the fucking difference.