I showed up to the Starbucks dressed in my suit, newspaper in hand, and ready to start job hunting. Backed by a fresh college diploma, I thought I could get something. The barista commented on my outfit, and we talked briefly about my plans. “Good luck on your job search,” she said to me.
Three weeks later I was back at that Starbucks, asking for an application. Everything had come up dry. I had made fun of every other student at my college who had worked at Starbucks after graduation, but I wouldn’t be able to make fun of me, because I didn’t even get the job at Starbucks.
Here’s how that happened. When I asked for the application, turns out the same barista I talked to while suited up was also the manager, and she remembered me. It was March, and she asked if I had plans for the summer, and I said I wasn’t sure. That’s what did it. She said, “It’s not because you weren’t sure of your summer plans,” which meant that was exactly it.
Talk about rejection . . . and this was four years before the recession, back when fake money grew on trees in front of crappily flipped houses.
The nice thing about overdosing on humble pie is that it removes your shame. My other side job, catering at my school, was offering me more hours. Instead of special events where I wore tuxes and said “schma schma,” I was wearing a kitchen outfit and working the lunch line. College grad lunch ladydude. I had graduated a semester early, so I was serving my classmates. I just didn’t tell them that I had graduated. It was the only shred of pride I clung to. But the job paid okay and I got free food. Plus, my coworkers were all nice, hardworking people with multiple jobs.
I tried to leverage my catering experience to get a job as a fancy waiter in Santa Barbara, but managers were very discriminating toward the great art of catering. “But can you take a customer’s order?” And I’d be like, “Yes, I am skilled in the arts of literacy,” but it came across as “You just write it down, right?” And that apparently was not the correct answer.
I did have a sweet side job of helping a very nice rich old lady send emails. She’d handwrite things, and I’d type them up and email them for her. For $17 an hour in 2004, I loved her. She was very sweet. I hope she’s still around.
I also sold photos at a local coffee shop, but that cost me more money than I made. And I wrote articles for this tiny newspaper, The Montecito Journal, but I had to do time-intensive interviewing of people and when all was said and done I made about 50 cents an hour. But I did once interview a lady who had a show-quality alpaca that would’ve been worth $50,000, except that it only had one testicle. It was for an “exotic pets” piece. So that was cool. I also learned that the only sound Alpacas make is a humming noise. And they are automatically potty trained and cheaper to feed than dogs.
As for my unhirable-ness, I was at a different Starbucks a day later, and asked them if they were hiring. They said yes, and that they would request my resume from the other store. I asked if I could just pick it up for them and drive it over right then. They looked surprised, but said yes again. In my interview, I said, “I’ll be right here this summer,” even though I wasn’t sure, and I was hired on the spot. It was only $7 an hour, and I felt they didn’t need to know all of my plans. Who knew where I would be?
I quit two months later in May . . . technically before summer.