At 24 years old, I found myself married to a man that I had known for two weeks and living in a state (Massachusetts) where I knew no one. I assure you it sounds more scary than it was, because back then (and as I am today) I’m somewhat of a adventurer, a big time risk taker. In many ways, I feel more comfortable in the unknown than in the routine of daily life. But there I was a stranger in a strange land, mostly alone. My husband (now ex) was stationed on a Coast Guard cutter which meant he was gone for 3 months at a time. I really was all alone.
I decided that I needed to get a job. I had spent the last few years of my career as a corporate recruiter, but was looking to do something different. I knew that our time in Massachusetts was limited because he was only assigned to this boat temporarily before he went to school, therefore trying to get a ‘career job’ was out of the question. I decided to get a job at Starbucks, because not only was I a huge fan of the company, but I also knew that I would instantly be able to make friends with my co-workers and the regulars who came into the shop. I hadn’t worked in the service industry in a few years, having worked mainly in Human Resources positions since my college days, I was a little unprepared for what it meant to actually serve people….and serve I did. The customers with the rolling eyes, the elitist attitudes, and the snobby drink orders, I served them all.
It wasn’t long before I learned to hate my job. It wasn’t long before I wanted to roll my eyes back at the customer or make equally snide remarks to them. I couldn’t help but think to myself “why are they treating me like this? I am too smart, too educated and too AWESOME to be treated like this.” The way they treated me, in many ways made me feel bad about myself. Like I was somehow lower class than they were because I worked at a coffee shop. I decided to quit. I told my husband about the situation and that I felt ‘I was better” than that..and that I needed to find a job that suited my skills and levels of accomplishment. Then he turned to me and said something profound that completely changed my perspective.
Now before I tell you what he said, I want to warn you, it’s religious. I AM not religious by any means, but I understand the story of the bible and whether or not I believe in it, the message is still powerful. He said, “Chrystie, look at the bible (I proceeded to roll my eyes), he continued “Jesus, the most powerful man in the land still washed the feet of the poor.” Of course, I’m paraphrasing because I can’t quite remember the entire story…but I thought about it for a minute and then it hit me….I was lacking humility. I was allowing my ego and accomplishments to dictate how I thought I should be treated.
After that conversation with my husband, my entire demeanor and perspective about working at Starbucks changed. I began to enjoy helping others and I even began to play this game with myself where I would “kill them with kindness” anytime someone had a piss poor attitude, I made it so they had to smile, I made it so they showed me respect because of my customer service. It was a lesson that I needed to learn and that has carried on with me throughout my entire life and career. To this day, my time at Starbucks still remains as one of my all time favorite jobs and I frequently think about returning to it.