One way or another

coffee shop I work at

When I am melancholy, or weary, or simply stressed I find myself escaping to the coffee shop I work at. Under normal circumstances I would not recommend turning one’s workplace into a kind of sanctuary. I’ve worked plenty of other jobs by now to know the workplace is often the center of stress, the place where one considers jumping off a cliff, rather than a place of happiness… But the coffee shop I work at is in fact unique. My pet name for the shop is Rachel Café, or House of Rachel and this name is highly suitable, I find.

I know the life stories of my workers right down to their mannerisms and accents and I also have an attachment to the customers who visit… It is a bit like the Cheers theme song “Where Everybody Knows Your Name,” but not completely, of course. We do serve coffee, after all, not beer. I also find the job thrilling because I work with incredibly interesting people. We have a field herper on staff and a former librarian from Albania and a boy who rocks out for Jesus on his guitar. Our customers are just as eccentric and lovable. Many will play trivia with me before I give them their drink, or will ask, “How are you?” with genuine concern each day. And the truth is, I will go far to make customers love the café as much as I do.

Last night I gave a customer an extra teabag (no charge) “for later” because I knew he needed it (who doesn’t need Earl Grey?). If someone isn’t satisfied with their drink, I will make them anything on the menu with specific customizations until that person is delighted. Of course, if someone is rude my attitude changes swiftly and I tell them, “You need to leave. Your negativity is ruining my positive energy. Take your sorry self to Starbucks.” Actually, I haven’t used these words yet… I am saving them for the day I stop caring about customer service or keeping my job.

Last week my coworker brought in a mix CD for us to listen to and suddenly a Blondie song came on. K informed me, “I put on this song just for you.” You see, “Blondie” has become a nickname my coworkers call me. And no, I don’t mind being called it. I have blond hair, I get it. This is the song she selected:

Perhaps this will sound childish to some of you but here was someone who had put a song on a mix CD in my honor. I felt touched; I knew that song will always be associated with this specific memory and I didn’t really know how to respond, except to sing along to the lyrics and dance.

And yes, sometimes dancing at work is necessary.

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