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During my recent hiatus in Canada, I paid a visit to Starbucks. But unlike most people who entered the store, I wasn't there to purchase a drink. Instead, I was there to whip up a venti sized cup of gratitude along with 2 pumps of appreciation and a side of extra foamy thankfulness to my very first boss who was the manager there.
Being born into wealth, power and influence, I could have had anything I wanted just for asking. But in 2003, I decided to spit out the silver spoon that had been placed in my mouth since the day of my birth and see how much far I could go on my own merit. My first step towards entering the world of the working middle class was to fill out job applications. It wasn't too long before the caller ID on the house phone displayed the name "Starbucks Coffee"
In reality, I had no idea what I was doing. I had never worked a day in my life nor did I know what it is like to receive a paycheque. Going for a job interview was completely foreign to me. But all I knew is that live or die, pass or fail....I needed to grow and I needed to do something. After successfully nailing the interview, a whole new world opened up to me, the world of work. For the next few months I would be thrown into a world of lattes, frapps, shifts, till duty etc. In addition to that was learning appropriate social behavior in the workplace not just between me and customers but between me, co-workers and supervisors.
It felt like a tremendous privilege for Starbucks to give me a chance and be my first entry into the work world. Part of their mandate is that they want you to grow as a person and they have a system in place to try and help you hit the next level of your potential. Now I realize that one of the keys to success as an individual (especially for one's first job) is to be under a good manager. And I actually had an amazing manager for my first boss. I didn't realize how amazing she was until years later when I had been in the working world for awhile.
She was one of those people that was very professional yet very personal. There were standards to be met by the company and she was always fully supportive in doing all that she can to help me get there. When she gave me correction, she did it with grace and there was never a moment that she didn't have my best interests at heart.
On my recent trip back to Victoria, I debated in my mind about visiting her to express my gratitude and let her know what a difference it made in my life that she gave me the chance to work for one of the world's biggest companys. The Starbucks experience is definitely one of growth. I have no doubt that getting to experience a work environment what placed so much value on growth as an individual contributed to my success. If my job had been pumping gas in a gas station, perhaps I would be a different person today. Working under her at Starbucks impacted many of my work ethics that are still with me today.
On a routine trip to downtown Victoria, I dropped into one of the Starbucks locations and asked which branch this particular manager was working at. Upon getting my answer, I was still debating about whether I should do it. My head kept saying things like "What if she's not there and you're just wasting your time?" At one point I decided to go stand at the bus stop for the bus that would take me to her branch where she was managing, just a few minutes away from the downtown core. There, some guy was trying to sell a bus ticket for $2. Bus fare is $2 and 50 cents and he had bought too many bus tickets and was selling a $2 and 50 cents bus ticket for $2. Realizing that this just might be a sign that I am meant to go show my gratitude, I coughed up $2 for the $2 and 50 cents bus ticket. I was getting a 50 cents discount to show my thanks and appreciation.
Upon reaching the branch, I entered in and inquired about her. The staff told me she was on shift but they didn't know where she was. So I decided to make a trip to the washroom. As I got closer to bathrooms, the door opened and she came out. Her face showed surprise and delight. I didn't waste a single moment to let her know that I was here to give her thanks for giving me that chance so long ago. Her first response was to exclaim "That was so long ago!" But gratitude has no expiry date :)
We had a 6-8 minute conversation in the corner near the washrooms just a few steps away from the main area. I truly believe that it was God that made it this way that I could talk to her and say what I wanted to say. I don't think that we could have had the same conversation if she was behind the counter. I told her about who I was and how when she hired me, I had never worked before and was beyond grateful that someone would give me the chance. Having this opportunity and being able to put Starbucks on my resume may have been what also caught the attention of some big corporations later on when it came to making their hiring decisions. Starbucks may have taken me on a for a first job but in some of the companies I worked for later on, I know for a fact that I couldn't have gotten in without previous work experience.
She was delighted to see how much I had grown as well to hear about Argentina. There was something so liberating about the conversation with her. She has been a manager for quite awhile and she mentioned to me that out of all the people that she has ever had under her, I was one of the most appreciative. That meant more to me than a million hits on my blogsite.....to hear 8 yrs later that this is the impression that you left on someone's life and that is how they remember you.
One of the scariest things in my life I ever did was to see how far I could make it on my own. But trading in the silver spoon for a grande sized cup of experiences from life in the working world is one of the best things I ever did. I went higher, faster, deeper, further than I could possibly have dreamed or imagined. It would be a journey that ultimately took me to the ends of the earth and back. And to think that it all began with me behind an espresso machine whipping up that perfect grande vanilla non fat no foam latte.....
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