We are told from early childhood that we should set life goals and always strive for them. Celebrities that have been in the spotlight as of late have said quotes us normal people try to take to heart, telling us to never stop reaching for our goals because they are achievable.
What is my life goal? Aside from being on The Tonight Show and doing a lip-sync battle against Jimmy Fallon (no idea how I’ll ever pull that one off), my big goal for the last six years has been to become a best-selling author and own my own coffee shop to run the way I please.
The best-selling author is tough. You have to find a way to break into that scene, find an agent who strives to get your work to the best places. Factors play a part in every single aspect and if the factors don’t quite work out in your favor, you may never make it big.
The owning a coffee shop is tough, too. Small business start-ups become harder and harder with each passing day.
But I have had the taste in my mouth for the last month. Continue reading
Sunday, February 23, 2014. The morning of the Gold Medal Men’s Olympic Hockey game of Sweden versus Canada. At puck drop–7am EST–I found myself standing behind a warm espresso machine, arm on top of the stainless steel with my head on top of that, staring out at an empty dining room that was Peet’s Coffee & Tea.
7:13am, my phone buzzes in my pocket. “So I’m in Amsterdam, sitting at a cafe at the airport ready to watch the Canada/Sweden game…” An iMessage from my brother from his iPad. Mostly about hockey, but ending with “Enjoy your last shift at Caribou!!!” I smiled. I texted back and said I wished I was at home, sitting on the couch, watching the game.
As I’ve said many times to people who have asked, the last shift is sadder today than it was yesterday (the day of the shift). Yesterday, I was too tired to care. Today, the fact has sunk in a little more. Maybe John Mellencamp can sum it up best from the song that happens to be playing in my ears right now: “Yeah, we had some good times. Reckless at heart but never, never unkind. In a perfect world, we’d have done just fine.”
So am I positively crazy now to be feeling this way? Continue reading
Have you ever had the overwhelming feeling of the blues? Sadness, melancholy, whatever you want to call it. It’s that feeling when your entire chest aches. As if your lungs and heart are being compressed together in a scalding hot vice that’s constantly, slowly constricting. Because of it, your mind cannot focus. You jump at every noise, every thought. You take a deep breath, as deep as you can, and the pain dissipates for but a brief moment; it feels like you haven’t been breathing properly until that point.
I had this feeling when the man I came to know as Robert Crum placed the barrel of his gun against the back of my neck in that coffee house bathroom. I knew it was all over in that singular moment. And I knew there was nothing I could do.
These are words I just now wrote for the sequel to On The Border, temporarily titled After You. In case you didn’t know, I write to work through emotional struggles, big and small. The above passage describes exactly how I’m feeling today…minus the whole gun against the back of my neck part.
Yesterday was my Caribou Coffee‘s last day of existence. I knew I would feel sad, but I did not think this would happen. It’s one of those thoughts of, “How many more things have to change in my life?!” because the past two and a half years have been ridiculous. That’s not fair to ask. Life is constantly changing.
The four hour shift was about what I expected it to be. When I walked in, Sam was cleaning over by the coffee scale and Alex and Miriah worked the counter; Seth was in back working on paperwork and inventorying everything that was left. He handed me a list of things to do:
- Deck scrub built-up areas
- High dust—thorough, but not too thorough
- Assist Sam and Noelle
Last week, I put up two posters at my Caribou advertising my book signing. While not many people paid attention to it that first shift I worked, this past weekend was a completely different story.
So many regular customers asked about it. People I had never seen before asked what it was about. A handful of people asked if I could set a copy to the side because they won’t be able to make it on September 21. Most people congratulated me on accomplishing something at such a young age.
My particular Caribou Coffee closes eight days later on September 29, converting into Peet’s Coffee and Tea. While I haven’t been there since the beginning of the Caribou timeline, I’ve been through four different regimes of managers/workers. I’ve grown up at the store, and it seems only fitting that something like this happens at a place like that so close to its end and the start of something new.
I feel like I’m never appreciative enough of the love and support from those around me. And sometimes it’s hard when it’s a regular customer who only really knows me by my silly trivia questions or the songs of the day on my name tag. Their quips of congrats and general questions about my book are some of the most heartening things to hear for an aspiring author.
It doesn’t take much to get discouraged in the self-publishing world. Before I put up the posters, I had stopped checking my CreateSpace numbers for how many books I had sold through Amazon because they barely ever moved. I was giving away more books than I was selling. But I checked my numbers after my shift on Saturday, and I was surprised at how quickly they jumped.
I have orchestrated this whole thing on my own, and it doesn’t feel like a big deal to me until those customers tell me how excited I should be. And that’s what keeps me going.
I’m excited for next Saturday. I’m excited to see who shows up. I’m excited to see my support system at Caribou come to life. And I’m excited to see how many people take an interest in my book. It has been my baby for well over two years and now that it’s out for the public to consume, I’m ready to indulge everyone and hope that they don’t hate it outright.
And if anyone has any ideas as to what I should be doing at this (aside from signing books), please leave a comment! Suggestions are much appreciated!
For over six years now, I have worked at a coffee shop – Caribou Coffee, to be exact. If you have spent any amount of time in a Starbucks, Caribou, Bigby, or independent chain, you know that coffee is an experience. Our society has an obsession with the drink, yes, but it’s more than just getting your quick cup of caffeine and heading into work.
Baristas are more than just the people behind the counter that stand between you and your cup of coffee. They are there to make a human connection with you, maybe chat about something you have in common, and make you smile once in your day.
Take, for example, at the Caribou that used to be down the street from mine: one gentleman came in every single morning, rarely said anything despite numerous attempts every time to get him to talk. He would get his coffee and leave. After well over a year of this, one day out of the blue, he got his cup of coffee, looked at the barista working and said, “I just want you to know that I’m a security guard at a local jail. And your smiling faces are the only smiles I see every single day. Thank you.”
What can really come over short snippets of conversation around a common enjoyment like sports or music or movies? What happens when you, as a female, dress up as Henrik Zetterberg for Halloween and work an open shift? You get regular customers you’ve known for years thinking you’re a new employee, and then continually talking to you about hockey after that. You find common bonding experiences.
In my six years working there, as it is about to become a different coffee shop, I have come to realize that while my stories may not be unique or out of the ordinary, they have impacted me more than I realized. Those customers that come in every morning, every week, have watched me grow up before their eyes.
That shop has shaped who I have become and where I’m heading in life. And if that isn’t something to write about and share with the world, I don’t know what is.
The stories I will put in there may not be groundbreaking or earth-shattering. It may not be any sort of book that changes your outlook on life or makes you cry or tries to teach you a life lesson. But if it can get you to smile or laugh, I will have done what I set out to do. It’s the little things in life that add up to make a difference.
So keep your eyes peeled for snippets of it that I may post here as I try to compile all my thoughts and memories in one place.