I’m a creature of habit. I have a certain routine which I adhere to pretty strictly every day. If I’m working late in the day, I tend to sleep in a little (unless I have errands) and relax up until I have to go to work. If I work early in the day, I come home and nap for an hour or two if I’m exhausted or I just go to sleep as early as possible (which sometimes isn’t easy for me). On my days off, I sleep in (unless I have errands) and then I do things like work on my blog or read or watch movies or visit family or friends. This works because I’m a night owl. It also works because doing these things means that I have the mental energy to deal with the barrage of retail customers on a daily basis at my job. I’ve gotten used to my own body over the years and what I can and cannot handle. In the past, I haven’t taken it easy and I’ve ended up in the hospital with severe panic attacks (one even giving me a seizure) or even at work, off the clock, huddled in a corner and trying to breathe for six hours.
Being a creature of habit like I am makes you somewhat reliable. Sometimes…or at least people know what you’ll most likely do on any given day. Most of the time, though, being a creature of habit also means that when change ends up a-coming, it totally messes with your sanity and sense of comfort. I’ve had a lot of change over the past couple of years, so I’m sort of getting used to it in a way. But, seriously, there was a lot of change. I separated from my wife and we got divorced a year later. I applied to and then graduated from an MFA program called Stonecoast. I’ve gone through three cars. I’ve moved twice. I’ve made a ton of new friends and lost others, and some of my family have also passed away. Those changes spurred other changes, as well. New hobbies, new tastes, new health problems, new budgets. One of the biggest changes, however, hasn’t happened yet – but it will be very soon – as of 11/17/2014.
I’ll be leaving my workplace of almost four years to transfer to another location.
I’m guessing if you’re reading this, you’re inwardly saying “So? Good for you!” If you’re saying that, then you’re correct (and thank you!). I’ll be saving around $30.00 a month just on toll money. Instead of driving 26 miles every day (13 miles each way) I’ll be driving only around 6 miles per day (3 miles each way). This means less gas money, less wear and tear on the vehicle, more time spent not commuting. I’ll even be making more tips at my new location, which means more money per hour. On the surface, it’s all good. There are some things that aren’t so good, though – namely, leaving my work family behind.
Not everyone is close to their work crew, but to understand my plight I will go back in time a little bit. You see, I used to work at a Pizza Hut location after college. I thought I’d only be there temporarily, but ended up being there for around four years. The job itself wasn’t the greatest, but I started as a dishwasher and then moved up to being a cook and then a shift manager all within a couple of months. My manager was great, the employees were all awesome – and even though I worked there starting about ten years ago (wow, it’s already been that long?) many of us still keep in touch and many of us still hang out with one another. Some are married, some are going to school, some have kids. We were a very close crew, though, back during the time I worked there. We’d all help each other close up the store so we could go bowling. Every year, my store manager would take us all on a whitewater rafting trip for a couple of days. We’d have house parties, some of us dated. It was ideal, it really was. I even started my tradition of drawing my fellow co-workers there, which I have continued (as long as I like where I’m working and like the people) up until now.
After I moved on from that location and moved to one in South Portland (after moving in with my then fiance in Saco, Maine) I discovered it was hard to find that level of closeness I’d experienced. Nobody liked being at that South Portland store. Eventually, I left that job for another job at Irving Oil in Saco (which later turned into a Circle K). That job was pretty challenging for me – I was an assistant store manager – and it put stress on my marriage. Long nights, no true “days off” (people calling me for lame reasons, etc) and I wasn’t even being paid that much. In fact, I make more now at Starbucks than I did there as an assistant manager, which is pretty sad. When my district manager asked why I was leaving, I flat out told him that it was a job for someone who’s single – not for a married man, like I was at the time.
And so, in November of 2010 – I started my Starbucks journey. I moved up from just a regular barista to a shift manager and even though I sometimes get tired of corporate policies and crazy customers, ultimately it’s a decent job. It’s one of the top Fortune 500 companies to work for and they have decent benefits like stock in the company you can accrue and sell, good health coverage, and a decent vacation system.
When I first arrived at the Starbucks in Saco, I was doing pretty well. I was married, I had a bunch of friends, a decent car. Then, I started to have some problems. My marriage was on the rocks. We were having financial troubles and my car was repossessed. I got another car, a clunker, and it died – and I was soon walking six miles back and forth to work. My marriage broke apart, I became a ball of stress, my wife’s family and most of our mutual friends abandoned me. I had to move, I had to go to the hospital countless times – but my boss was understanding and worked with me to get me through the worst of it, at least in terms of the workplace. With that foundation, I was able to pick myself up, dust myself off. I moved in with a co-worker and began to slowly re-build my life. I experimented with things. With film, with music, with art. I had a showcase of astrological artwork I had hanging in my store.
I also drew pictures of all of my co-workers, as I said above, and used them to spark conversations with customers.
I created a YouTube channel (which you can see HERE and HERE – because I have two) and just let loose with silly lip syncs and other craziness. I took part in a mustache film festival with my friend Erica and we shot her entry at the Starbucks I worked at, and some of my co-workers co-starred alongside me and we won first place. The short film was called “Results May Vary” and we beat out films from all over the world.
I became part of a “band” although I’d had little to no real music training – and the two guys in that band became pretty close to me during our time together before we all moved on and did different things. At first, it was just a way for me to escape the troubles of my failed marriage, but it became cathartic and a way for me to explore my creative side.
We also went to see live music together and ended up going to a battle of the bands/clash of the titans at Port City Music Hall back in 2011 – and we dressed as the cops from the Beastie Boys video Sabotage. The band saw us in the crowd and told us we had to come up on stage for the song, and we had a blast.
On top of that, one of my other co-workers, Michael, owns a music recording studio (Port Media) and wanted me and a couple others to help him out with a music video after he saw one of my lip sync videos. I had fun doing it, and it continued my creative and artistic therapy that I fell into after my failed marriage.
All in all, my time at Starbucks in Saco, Maine has been a whirlwind. Much has happened, those I’ve worked with have filtered in and out of my life. I’ve gone through a lot of personal changes, and while I’m leaving – I’m sure a piece of me will stay there just as a piece of me stayed at Pizza Hut in Auburn, Maine. It was a place that sometimes challenged me, always kept me on my toes, and most of all – gave me friends and a reason to get through some of my difficulties when there was nothing else that could be done. I hope my new store is just as fun. Now – I leave you with some parting images from my time at my current store: