I’ve been in and out of jobs, hopped from one Ayala Avenue building to another, and rode many elevators. Corporate offices just can’t give me the kind of satisfaction that working in a coffee shop can. Being a barista has got to be one of the most interesting satisfying jobs I’ve ever had, and I’ve had quite a few. It’s always fun to say ‘I make coffee for a living’ – not as a farmer but as one who pulls esperesso shots to make overpriced cafe mocha.
I’ve quit previous jobs for purely arbitrary reasons and having the benefit of a college diploma, I felt that seeking employment is not something that I should be worried about. I was under the impression that if I’m unable to find one, one will most likely find me. But I was smacked with the realization that having a diploma can and will eventually seem worthless compared to having an absolute and bankable talent because no one cares about your college feasibility study. While I haven’t been exactly a cocky employee, I had the gall to literally walk out of a high-paying job without so much as a goodbye to the manager. I took off and actively decided to work as a barista. Desperate to find work, I applied as a barista.
It was a breath of fresh air to my professional working experience, having come from previously boring and unfulfilling jobs. And I believe that a person who had the nerve to walk out of a job earns the right (kind of) to call certain jobs boring or unfulfilling as long as he’s able to at least express satisfaction about other jobs. I occasionally felt that I may have been coerced into becoming a barista since I felt that no decent employer would want to hire someone who permanently decides to get out of his cubicle as he pleases. But more than anything, I’d like to think of this ‘coercion’ as a blessing in disguise. It was by no means an easy job, but it was satisfying in a way that no other job on earth is. Being one of the most popular and most public of places, my coffee shop doubled as a place of work and a place to meet friends and dates. And even as it was implicitly stated by the management that flirting while working is punishable, there’d be baristas who’d feel duty-bound to turn on their charm and flirt like hell. It just seemed inevitable that as a barista I’d be serving more than just high calorie coffee. Looking back, I think I did serve some of my customers more than just coffee and that’s mostly because I’m not one to ruin tradition.
Being a barista requires more than just earnest smiles and great enunciation. The hours are long and most of the time, the days felt long. Eventually, I felt that standing for almost straight 8 hours, manning cash registers and being asked to bus tables in 10-minute intervals didn’t seem worth the fun. If I had known better, I would have exited sooner than I did. The novelty of saying, ‘I make coffee for a living’ has worn off. So, bye.