Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Love Letter to my Okemos and Jolly Starbucks

My last day in a store I've worked at for 14 years is over.  I am moving to a new store built just a mile down the road from my home.  It's an answer to prayers I've had for at least 10 years.  A store was built a half mile from where we live eight years ago, but Starbucks had to close 5000 stores that year and the store in my neighborhood turned into a pizza joint.  It never opened, but the outside looks like a Starbucks but the sign says "Happy's Pizza" with a dancing and smiling pepperoni pie on it.  Talk about hope deferred makes the heart sick. And it's not even good pizza.

I've been happy about the transfer.  As much as I love my partners and customers, I am ready for change.  It won't be easy--it would be a lot easier to stay in my current store.  Many new partners, some other transferred partners and possibly some re-hires who haven't been current with the changes in the corporation and new routines and practices.  I'm ready for the challenge.

Running a Starbucks is hard work.  We labor to bring our customers a nice relaxing place to read and sip a caramel macchiato in a porcelain mug or meet with friends over frappuccinos.   Don't mind me changing trash or sweeping the floor for the third time that morning.  I think I wiped fingerprints off that pastry case five times today.  And ignore those boxes, please.  We'll have it all put away by close tonight, we promise. 

But the tasks aren't the hardest thing about working at the Starbucks in your 'hood.  It's getting along with people, learning how to communicate and being a team.  We see the same people pretty much every day with minor changes both behind the bar and in front of it.  After a few years, we know each other pretty well.  I had the opportunity to tell a co-worker that I've seen her grow in her calmness because she is more confident now.  She was worried about chaos when she supervised a shift, but I told her that chaos comes and goes, it's our responses that makes or breaks the moment.  We talked about PTSD from previous experiences in our lives and how we have to control the panic attacks during a rush.  I spoke to her how I finally got to a point where I'm not just reacting to a situation but thinking it out. Mistakes happen.  I know I'm having a good day when I'm smiling amidst the confusion. It means I hit the highest level of crazy.  Crazy is good. 

It's also important when a fellow partner is losing her mind to accept her in the middle of it.  Or if he is grumpy and nothing is going right for him at that moment, to give him space to work himself out of it.  Or someone is yelling about who put that towel in the sanitizer and it was you.  You didn't know that it could cause a fire and burn down the store.  Sorry.  Won't happen again.  Even better, to laugh about it with him a few days later that you didn't want to be an arsonist and he acknowledges that you were creatively solving a problem. Or you forgot to tell the ovenator person that you got your customer's pastry for the fifth time that morning.  Or you told her and made eye contact even and she still didn't hear you, that you can be patient with each other.  Or the day everything has been running out and you don't ask out loud who did the roasting plant order because putting blame doesn't solve anything.  And in this store, a puppy meme on Facebook goes a long, long way.  Hurt someone's feelings?  Send her a meme with a dog driving a car.  Or a gif of a pup chasing its tail.  Thank God for canines.  I mean, really.  Take a moment to thank Him.

Some wounds aren't easily healed with a dog picture.  There might be misunderstandings or conflicts that can run pretty deep.  I was shocked to learn that I could grow a little more sensitive.  And surprised that someone learned from me about valuing diversity and respecting that people are different.  I could express more positive things more often--my leadership team needs to know that I respect and appreciate them all, and not just notice their mistakes and failings.  And my newer partners need to know that they're okay.  It's tough now with customer support role for them, but they'll get it.  We all were new once and had to figure out how not let the store run out of all the coffees during peak.  And ask me if you need help getting something done and you somehow ended up in the weeds.

And the partner who hasn't talked to you in weeks?  She is sad you are leaving because she really loves you.  I love you too Holly.  I love all of you guys--Jonathan, Nicole, Julie, Kaitlyn, Brenden, Alicia, Jason, new Jonathan, Kaila, Hakeem, Corey (see you at the new store), Tyler, Andrew, Daniel, Dee, Gabby, Sarah, Colleen, Erin, TJ---you mean more to me than you could ever know. And I will never forget working with you all. 





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