Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Today was the first day I felt like I could actually make this Sbux gig work. I didn't feel like a complete idiot, so that's an improvement.

Today, after setting up the pastry case, I was assigned "front support." This meant I was responsible for taking orders for all the café customers, and providing "support" for drive through orders. Here's where it gets tricky . . . We all wear headsets, which allow us to hear drive through orders and also allow us to talk privately with each other. If I'm across the store and a customer has a question I don't know the answer for, I can talk into my headset and any other partner can provide the answer for me. It's kind of like being telepathic. Or crazy. Because sometimes I'm laughing at something a partner said in my headset, and the customer in front of me has no idea what's going on.

We all hear the drive through orders, which can make life confusing when I'm trying to listen to the customer standing in front of me. I have to tune out the headset to fulfill the "live" customer's order. When I'm done with that, I need to remember to start listening again. This is the hardest part for me!! The other part of front support is to grab items from the pastry case (and heat them up, if needed) for drive through orders. If I'm not taking a café order or grabbing a food item, I'm checking the hot & cold bars to see if there are any pitchers or blenders I can rinse. But I still need to be paying attention to drive through orders. I can't stress how difficult this learning curve of multi-tasking listening and action is for me. I think it's because I still have to think through each step of each routine as I do it - it hasn't become second nature yet.

But today . . . today I did OK. For the first time I felt like I was an asset rather than a liability to the team. And that feels really, really good. Now, let's see if I can do the same thing tomorrow . . .

Saturday, May 24, 2014

I Am the Diversity.

It's not surprising that the Sbux store I work at has little diversity - after all, this is Wisconsin, and unless you are in Milwaukee, you're not going to find much racial diversity. We are a bunch of white people, pullin' shots and takin' names.

To be more specific, the employees are mostly 18 - 25 year old white kids. Most of them have been walking upright for only about 20 years. I've been walking upright for nearly 50. They have ankles and knees that easily bend, and don't have to consider the fact that if they get down on their knees to clean out a fridge, they might not be able to get up.

Today, I came very close to quitting. It is hitting me that I cannot hope to keep up with these young whippersnappers. Just using the word "whippersnappers" ages me another 10 years. Maybe it's because I'm not confident, maybe it's because I make dumb mistakes (like brewing decaf into the Pike coffee cube), maybe it's because every time I turn around I have to ask a 19 year old how to do something - but I started wondering if I could really do this.

So, I did what adults do, and spoke with my manager. I need to preface this by saying my manager, L. is AMAZING. She is somehow hyper-aware of what every person is doing and what they should be doing. She jumps in and works the bar (espresso bar, that is) or cold bar or support - whatever - she doesn't just delegate (though she is good at that as well) but she is ankle deep in the crush of rush, just like all of us regular baristas. So, I sat down with her and told her I thought this might be a young persons job. She reassured me that I was doing well, and I told her I didn't want to be the slow, old lady that everyone else had to compensate for. Her reaction floored me.

She likes that I'm not the norm. She thinks it is good to have someone far outside the 18-25 check-box. She told me I added some diversity to the store's cast of characters. And that stunned me, because my first thought was "I'm just another white girl, working at Sbux, what's the big deal? Then I realized it wasn't my race, but my age that was the added diversity.

And in the flash of a moment I felt 100 instead of 48. Maybe it's because I work with college students, but I have always processed and sent messages from the mindset of someone who is "young." When did I become old? Seriously. I don't know when it happened. Did it creep up on me like the silver hair that has been replacing the ebony strands with more and more frequency? Or is this the exact moment I become old? When I can clearly see the distinct and vast difference between me and a group of 20 year olds? No, it's not about me - it's realizing how others see me. I'm not going to be mistaken for a 20 or 30 year old barista. I'm going to be viewed as older. My co-workers won't see me as a peer. They won't consider me as a friend. They may even be wary of my intent . . . because I am so different.

I didn't quit today. After my shift, I came home to shower and soak my feet in cold water. The increase in circulation makes me feel younger, yet the need for a nap makes me feel older. I guess that means I am just right.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tomorrow, 1 of 2 things will happen . . .

I will either cry or quit. And by cry, I'm not sure if I mean literal or figurative crying. My Starbucks training officially ended, but the only thing I am 100% positive of knowing is how to make my favorite drink. Everything else is a crapshoot. I would recommend you go to the Clairemont location tomorrow if you need a Starbucks fix, because I will be screwing up all the things at the Hastings location.

Here are some fun things I've learned in the past week . . .

1. The learning curve gets worse before it gets better. Right now, I'm at the point where I've tried to cram so much stuff into my brain that it is all jumbled and difficult to recall. When someone orders, it's like trying to find 2 pieces that fit in a 1000 piece puzzle.

2. Epsom Salt foot baths after work are mandatory. My knees and back are doing pretty good . . . but have a lot of pain in my feet. Especially my left foot and ankle. Once I get moving I'm fine, but once I sit down it stiffens up. Here's to hoping I get used to standing on my feet soon!

3. THERE IS NO SECRET STARBUCKS MENU! No matter what Buzzfeed or the interwebs wants you to believe, there really isn't a secret menu. And yes, there are people who come and want to order something from the "secret menu" - I've already learned to control rolling my eyes at them. If you have the recipe, we'll make it - but otherwise, no. Just no.

4. I am the old lady at the store. Literally.

5. Tomorrow I work at 4:30am (we open at 5), so I ate dinner at 5pm and am going to bed by 7:30. See? Old. Lady.

And since I only have 30 minutes until bedtime, I'd best review my recipe notes (FROM the actual menu - BECAUSE THERE IS NO SECRET MENU!)

Saturday, May 17, 2014


I am elated. My grading is done. Done Done Done. Grades are submitted and I have another 24 hours of breathing room before my online summer class starts. I am celebrating with a Sex & the City marathon, re-reading the Hunger Games, making a master to-do list for the next 6 weeks and 3 days . . . and reminiscing . . .

I've been puffed with pride today because one of my forensics students was chosen to give the commencement address. So proud of the woman she has become. I've never told her, but she reminds me, in some ways, of my college roommate, L. I was one of those lucky, lucky freshpeople who was randomly paired with a roommate they actually liked. L and I were opposites academically - she was always dedicated to her business major homework, and I was rarely dedicated to my education major homework. But we were alike in so many other ways, and we grew to be great friends. We pledged the same sorority, sang in the traveling chamber choir, loved Bon Jovi, and dated our way through the male population at our tiny, private college.

After college, I went to grad school and L got married and started growing into her career in insurance. She had babies, I got a master's degree. As I worked through my first "real" coaching/teaching job in Missouri and then moved to WI and started building my career, we didn't talk as frequently. But when we did, it was like no time had passed.

Twenty-six years ago, we both graduated from Defiance College. (L's GPA was MUCH higher than mine!) Twenty-six years. And yet I can pick up the phone and our conversations pick up where we left off 3 or 5 or 8 months earlier. I can call her when I need support. I can call her when I need to laugh. I can call her and just listen. I am far removed from the woman I was who graduated college 26 years ago, but L is my touchstone, and can always bring me back, reminding me that there was a time we were young and thought we were invincible.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

My Brain Hurts

I knew there would be a learning curve. I had no idea the curve would actually be a mountain. My brain hurts trying to remember how many shots of this and pumps of that goes into a drink. What gets whip and what gets drizzle. Hell if I know, though my guessing is getting more accurate. Here are 3 things I learned today:

1. There are a bajillionty drinks to memorize. And it's not just knowing how to make a drink, it's knowing how to code the cup and call the beverage to the barista. Espresso drinks, frozen coffee drinks, frozen drinks, smoothies, refreshers, teas, iced teas, hot chocolates. There is an exact order of steps to be followed, a perfect way to code a cup and call an order. And it makes sense, because that's how I know my beverage will taste the same whether I'm getting it in Wisconsin or Ohio. But CRIKEY it is hard.

2. Listening is crucial. When someone comes in ordering a chai tea soy latte, extra hot, no water, no foam with 2 equal sweeteners - DANG that's a lot of stuff to remember. Then I have to translate it to a cup, and then translate it to a register, then call it. Your patience is appreciated while I take 3 times longer to make your beverage because I'm desperately trying to remember everything.

3. I will still have great stories to tell. Today, I met a bunch of partners I hadn't met before. One of them comes walking up to me and he's a former student! I give him a big hug and ask him how he's doing . . . and he asks what my name is. I'm like "I had you in class!" Apparently, he has a twin brother. It was his twin who was in my class. Do I know how to make a situation awkward, or what?

Tomorrow I work an 8 hour shift. Good thing I splurged on really good work shoes!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Making Magic Happen

I always thought I was a "high maintenance" Starbucks customer. My Grande Skinny Caramel Latte Extra Hot with 3 Sweet-N-Lows always made me feel a bit obnoxious. But now, after just 1 day of training, I'm realizing that's a pretty tame order.

These are the 3 big lessons I learned today (besides learning how to make an Americano, a Cappuccino and a Latte)

1. Behind the counter, there is true magic happening. Granted, it is tightly controlled chaos. There are specifically assigned jobs/stations/responsibilities, and the pace is maniacally hectic - but every partner (that's what we are called - I totally dig it) works with one another. Being in front of the counter (or in the drive-through) as a customer for years, I never realized just how many things had to fall in place for my drink to be perfect every time. I honestly don't think physics or beverage science or people-traffic patterns can fully explain how it all comes together. It is some serious magic making.

2. A gallon of milk is H.E.A.V.Y. And when you lift one again and again and again, heck - that's a workout!! The job is much, much more physical than I had imagined. It's not just standing for a 6 or 8 hour shift - it is constantly moving for that shift. And the space behind the counter is small -  seriously much smaller than it looks. So not only is everyone getting a workout, but everyone is touching everyone All. The. Time. It was disconcerting at first, but after my ass (or arm or boob or hip) got bumped into about a dozen times, I stopped paying attention. I wanted to make a joke that it's the most action I've had in months, but - it was my first day, so I'll save it for another time.

3. I am going to smell like coffee. After work, I stopped at Great Clips to get a haircut. The following is the conversation between my stylist and another stylist: 

My stylist: "Is someone brewing coffee?"
Other stylist: "I don't think so, why do you ask?"
My stylist: "Because I can smell coffee brewing."
Other stylist: "I don't smell anything."

Yep, it was me. I came home, showered, and swear I still have the faint aroma of coffee coming from my pores. Its weird, but there are worse things I could smell like!

Can't wait to learn more tomorrow . . .

Saturday, May 10, 2014

53 Sleeps

That's how long I have until I move. Every day it sinks in a bit more. I really glad I have so much time to move. Sorting through 15 years of stuff is a bit overwhelming, so it's nice to be able to take it slow. Today I spent an hour going through sewing patterns, and have about 40 ready to send to Goodwill. I also went through my coat closet and found several coats, hats and scarves to donate. I'm using the rule that if I have not worn or used something in the last year, it goes. Some stuff I'm selling on Craigslist (bye-bye stamping supplies I haven't touched in 2 years) and some of it just isn't worth the effort, so it gets donated.

I'm hoping to sell about half the furniture I have before the move. Some of it is old and not in great shape (my couch) and I'm ready to replace it. Some of it I simply won't have room for (file cabinets) or want to replace with a different style (computer armoire needs to go so I can get a more traditional desk that can double as a sewing table.) It's such a pain posting stuff on Craigslist, and an even bigger pain dealing with people who are wishy-washy about whether or not they want to buy an item. I did sell my daybed, and have a tentative meeting on Tuesday to meet a woman who is interested in buying my stamping stuff. This week, I hope to get my couch, chair & ottoman photographed and listed.

As I was packing up coats, I realized that I can actually start packing up most of my clothing. Working at the phone answering place, I had to wear business clothing to work. This summer, I'll be following Starbucks dress-code, which means I will have no reason to wear pantyhose between now and next fall. WOO-HOO! A summer of T-shirts and yoga pants sounds fabulous!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Well, I've signed the lease, so it's official. I have an apartment. And if I had any doubt about whether I was doing the right thing, that doubt was put to rest when I found out that instead of a North facing apartment, I could have a South facing apartment. I know, not a big deal, but the South view is even better!!
I got to do a walk-through of the apartment and it's even bigger than I imagined. I'm towards the end of the building, furthest from traffic, so that's good. The cats are going to go crazy with the view out the huge deck door.

Eight weeks from today, I move. It's still surreal, but sinking in. Holy cow.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

When Everything Works Out

Yesterday, I posted my mobile home for sale on Craig's List and put a "For Sale" sign in the front yard. Two hours later it was sold. WHAT?!?!?

I spent most of Friday getting my house in shape to sell and taking lots of pictures.

Saturday morning the sun was shining for the first time in a week and I was able to get some nice outside pictures.
It took forever to write up an ad for Craigslist. I wanted to be as transparent as possible about the water damage, but also wanted the ad to work! Here's what I came up with:

This 3 bedroom, 2 bath mobile home is a 16 X 80 1982 Blair. The mobile home was appraised at $12-14,000 and I was planning on selling it this summer. Last month, a toilet overflowed in the smaller bathroom, flooding the bathroom and guest bedroom. Servicemaster came out and professionally dried out the 2 affected rooms, pulling up carpet and capping off all the water lines in the bathroom. This professional dry-out cost $1700.

Part of the reason I'm selling this at such a reasonable price is that repairs (estimated at $2000-$3000 for bellypan repair, floor repair and new carpeting) will have to be made. The home is livable (I'm living here now) so repairs could be made over time while it is owner occupied.
This home sits on a corner lot in the Hillcrest Estates mobile home park. There are no neighbors on any adjoining lots, and the neighbors across the street are some of the nicest people I've ever known! Lot rent and taxes are $300 a month and include water and trash/recycling pick up. There is a 1 car garage, which is pretty special since the park no longer allows people to build garages. There is also a large storage shed. The mobile home has central air and a brand new water heater was installed in November.

Sale of this home includes:
1 car garage
Appliances: Stove, Refrigerator (2 years old!), Washer and Dryer (10 years old, used by just 1 person)
BRAND NEW water heater!
Mulching lawn mower (3 years old, paid $300 for it!)
Patio table & chairs (not shown in pictures because I haven't gotten them out of the shed yet)
Lawn hoses
Yard tools: rakes, gardening equipment
Roof rake
2 large storage cabinets
Window blinds

Other features of this home includes TONS of cabinet space in the kitchen, ceiling fan in the kitchen, step-in shower in the master bathroom, walk in closet in the master bedroom, display shelves in the kitchen, new back door (2 years old), and an open floor plan.

I have secured an apartment and will be moving July 1st. I'm a very motivated seller! Please take a look through the pictures, then give me a call or text (715-XXX-XXXX) or send an email to set up a time to come look at it.

Please note: I will only accept CASH payment. No other forms of payment will be considered.

With about 20 pictures in the ad, I posted it on Craigslist and put a "For Sale" sign in the front yard at 3:30. I took a deep breath. Then, of course I pulled up Facebook on my laptop and started writing a post about finally getting the ad up on CL. In the middle of writing the post, my phone rang. Someone was interested in the trailer and wanted to know if she could come by at 6pm to take a look at it. I told Person A that would be fine. Cool. Someone interested!

About 5 minutes later, I got a text from someone who said they were very interested in the trailer. I texted back that someone was coming to look at it at 6, but I would be home until then if they wanted to stop by. Person B said they would come around 5.

Ten minutes later, a car pulled up in front of the house. It was a woman who said her friend (Person C) had called from Chippewa Falls and wanted her to swing by and take a look. So, I gave an impromptu tour. She loved it, and immediately left to go pick up Person C so she could take a look.

A short while after that, I got a call from Person D, who wanted to come by on Sunday to take a look.

By this point, I was freaking out. I had prayed that my house would sell. I had no idea God would answer my prayers so quickly!

Around 4:45, Person C and her friend got to my house. I gave Person C the tour and she decided on the spot that she wanted the mobile home. No haggling over price, she said she would pay the full asking price. As she was writing a deposit check, Person B and his brother showed up. I told them I had accepted an offer but could give them a tour in case Person C changed her mind. Person B really loved the house and was bummed it had sold.

By 5:30, I had a check in hand, had taken down the "for sale" sign, and removed the ad from Craigslist. I HAD SOLD THE TRAILER!!! I tried getting in touch with Person A to let her know I'd already sold the house, but she didn't answer. So, at 6pm, she pulls up with her husband and (adorable!) son in tow. I told her the trailer had already sold, but I could give her a tour in case both Person B and Person C changed their minds. Person A also really loved the trailer, and was sad it had sold. I was sad I didn't have another home to sell because she and her family were so nice!

After they left, I got a text message from Person B. He wanted me to know that he would be willing to pay $1000 above the asking price if I would reconsider my agreement with Person C. I had to give him credit for being so aggressive, and the money was tempting - but I couldn't go back on my word. I had prayed that my home would be found by someone who really needed it and would benefit from it. Person C is an older, rather frail woman. Her best friend (the woman who originally came to tour the house) lives 2 streets over and Person C is thrilled at the idea of being so close to her. She is the person this home was meant for.

I can't believe I sold this home so quickly. I could probably have gotten more money for it, but the price I set sits well with my conscience. And Person C is aware of the repairs that will need to be done. So I'm feeling really, really good about all of this.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Good News

Want to know something kind of sad and pathetic? I have been so conditioned by bad news over the last 6 months that I have a really, really hard time accepting good news that comes my way. I got 2 pieces of REALLY! GOOD! NEWS! on Monday, but I was so convinced something horrible was going to follow the good news, I was afraid to tell anyone. But I think I'm ready now . . .

Good News #1: I got my DREAM apartment and am moving July 1st! It's 2 bedroom, 2 bath, has a balcony, allows cats, includes all kinds of amenities (indoor pool!) and is fancy.

It's a serious grown-up apartment. It's nice to know I have 2 months to purge & pack. I'm currently boxing up clothes, realizing that I have a ridiculous amount of clothes & vowing to not buy another item of clothing until 2020. So far I've taken 3 large boxes of clothes to Goodwill. I'm putting some things on Craig's List in the hope that I can de-clutter and have less to move! So if you know of anyone who would like to buy an oak dining set, a really cute day-bed or a ton of craft/scrapbook stuff - send them my way!

Good News #2: I got my DREAM part-time job!! I was so sad to learn that the phone place I've worked at for the last 10 summers isn't hiring seasonal help. Knowing I needed something part-time, I took a chance and applied at Starbucks.
I have seriously wanted to work there forever - and not just because I love their coffee. I know nothing about "pulling shots" or mixing drinks, but the job appeals to my left-brain sensibilities. I get a kick out of learning a series of tasks and then figuring out how to efficiently and effectively complete them. Which happens to be what a barista does! When I got the call on Monday that I was being invited to be a member of the "team" I could barely control squealing with glee. Yesterday I had my introductory meeting, and it was AMAZING! I got my official Starbucks apron, had my first coffee tasting (Caffe Verona - wow - so good!) and got a store tour. I'm incredibly nervous about learning a whole new job, but that is tempered with knowing that it's an atmosphere that already feels comfortable.

So much good news. It's hard to believe it's my good news.