Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

Four months I’ve been in the city, and no activity in the job searching department. Until now. I found myself with two actual job interviews within the same week, and although neither has turned into an actual job offer, it has started me thinking about my future.
On the one hand, I applied for a job that would entail a three hour daily commute, including walks through fields and over railroad tracks, with a hefty paycheck for eight hours of sitting at a desk and meeting a minimum writing requirement. This job offers security, especially in a down economy, and part of me screams that I should be sensible and make the sacrifice of the sketchy commute, bite the bullet and spend twelve hours a day, five days a week, earning the almighty dollar. After all, there are probably hundreds of thousands of Americans right now who would gladly spend three hours a day on a bus and walking through barren fields to report to a job.
Or I could work in the coffee shop at the local community college.

Today is my first day of work at the Arapahoe Community College. I decided it was time to take even a part-time job, hoping I will meet people and make some connections. And it was perfect timing since my bank account is severely dwindling. I got up at 5 this morning to prepare for my 20 minute walk and 20 minute train ride to Littleton, a suburb of Denver where the college is located.
I boiled the last of my coffee grounds, from yesterday’s coffee, (I planned to get coffee at work, but found I couldn’t break my morning routine of sipping coffee), I ate some yogurt with corn flakes, packed a sandwich and my water bottle, and headed out before the sun was up to make sure I made it there on time. I was worried about wandering around downtown so early, but I worried needlessly. At 5:30 a.m. The streets were crawling with people, many dressed in business suits. Where did they work that they had to start so early?
The early morning city has a quiet romance about it. All the shops are closed up and the street crews are out cleaning. Steam rising from the sewer covers gave me the feeling of walking down the street of a movie set, until I realized that it was probably toxic gas escaping into the air. All manner of people stood at the train station, homeless, commuters, businessmen, all waiting for the D-Line to take them somewhere for the day. The route of the D-Line reminds me a lot of the Trax line in Salt Lake, passing through industrial parks, empty fields and giving me a good view of the backside of the city.

It’s been a long time since I worked in the service industry, but after my first day on the job at the cafe I can only say in a baffled voice—wow.
There are really three rules of service—smile, give the customer what they want, and when you’re not busy you clean. Apparently the rules have changed. Now, I realize that the young woman training me feels, and rightfully so, superior in her job capacity. So I listened patiently as she schooled me in the specific art of making coffee, sandwiches, and running a cash register. Now, the cafe, mind you, is inside of a college, which hasn’t begun classes for the year, so we were relatively slow. In keeping with the concept that people like to eat in a clean environment, I did a regular check of the tables and wiped them down. And then I got scolded.
“Don’t worry about wiping the tables off, because the customers just keep getting them dirty.”
What? I can’t believe she even said those words out loud. And she repeated them when I wiped the counters down, or asked where the broom was.
“We don’t really need to worry about cleaning anything, because its just going to get dirty again.”
Unbelieveable! I attempted to turn the tables and try to find something productive from my young supervisor.
“Is there something else you would rather have me be doing?” I asked.
“Well, the time you spend wasting on cleaning the tables you could spend getting ready to close.”
Eureka! We were finally starting to communicate.
“Okay, great. What can I do to start getting ready to close?”
She stared at me blankly.
“Well, its not time to close yet. So we don’t want to start on any of the closing stuff, because, you know, somebody might come in an order something, or get the tables dirty.”
I gave up. I poured myself a cup of coffee and prayed for customers to come through the door. Finally a few people straggled in, mostly students and faculty getting a jump on their class schedules and the layout of the campus. Finally, I would get a chance to be pleasant and interact with others. Or so I thought. My young supervisor quickly told the customers they would have to wait, while she showed me how to properly toast the bread for a sandwich. My head nearly exploded as I watched five people stand in line, waiting to order, and not so much as a smile from the girl as she ignored them.
Wow. This girl has got to go…

August 17, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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