Today begins a new chapter in my life. Yesterday was my last day at Starbucks. So I will be getting a fresh start, so to speak. My mind couldn't help but recall a lot of things as I walked through my last few days at a place where I had worked for almost 4 years. I learned a lot in my time at Starbucks. I learned a lot about myself, about working, about management, about what I want to do and not want to do in life, about people, and so much more. Allow me to reminise for a moment.
It was September 2007, and we lived in Florida. Hurricanes had devastated the area just a couple years before, and due to that, home owners insurance had skyrocketed, and we could no longer afford to be a one income household. So I began a job search. It was a very God-oriented thing, really, how I came to be with Starbucks at that time. I won't share the entire story, but there was a brand new store opening just down the street from our home and they were hiring. I interviewed and was hired on the spot. It really was my "first" job. I mean, I'd had jobs through high school and such, but as far as working in the world and a grown up environment, it was going to be my first real experience. My manager's name was Jim. He was an amazing manager . He knew what he was doing, he knew how to train, he knew how to teach without making me feel dumb (mind you, starbucks stuff takes quite a bit to get the actual hang of.), I just had a sort of connection with him in a way I had not expected. Do you ever have those moments that you can just remember very clearly? Well, I can remember Jim giving me my barista certification. He put me at ease in a moment it could have been very nerve wracking. He was kind and yet firm in his teachings. I remember a particular shift making me cry ( I can't even really remember why). Somehow Jim learned of it (managers seem to have a way of doing that.) and he came to me to find out if I was ok and how the situation had gone. And it got fixed-without any drama. He became a friend. I have a lot of respect for him and he deserves a bit of credit in breaking me into the working world.
Then we got the news of Michael's job loss and that we'd move to Ohio. Fortunately, my job would transfer. That was also very God oriented. It happened that the store I wanted to transfer to had an opening and needed someone right away. I fit in to that hole. It took me some time-it was kind of like starting all over as a new barista. little differences from one store to the next . And the staff there was very tight, so it took quite a while to fit in. And now, almost 4 years later and an entirely new staff there, I am finally saying goodbye. I never thought I'd be there that long. But it's been a journey. I could tell a lot of fun stories about different customers there. Or crazy customers. Or the really fun ones who've also become my friends. (Tony,Deb,Rob,Kris,,Lynne,Jamie,Kim....)But it is time to move on from there. I will say that Wendy Artz deserves a lot of good words in my leaving. She was my manager for 3 or so years and I learned a lot from her. I could trust her. She helped me become strong in my position. She helped me see some of my true colors that I never knew existed-like leadership . She brought some of those out. She also became a really good friend. She has been there for me through mom's death, too. When she left last July, I did a lot of the leading until Brandon came in. I was leery of a new manager. Each time I had a new boss, I was leery. But jim had been great, and so had Wendy, and Brandon and I became friends, too. Brandon came into a yucky situation, not to mention my life was kind of turned upside down dealing with mom being so sick. I remember the moment I met Brandon like it was yesterday. But Brandon was amazing working with me through all of mom's sickness and death. I'm pretty sure no other job would have been that way. He was understanding and let me yell at him or cry or vent. He was patient with me. I was blessed to be under some direct managers who helped me grow. When I told Brandon I was leaving, he was understanding and supportive. I'm thankful for that.
I learned a lot about myself through my time at Starbucks. That I do have the ability to lead and make decisions. That I am ok the way I am. That I can do what I set my mind to. That I am a people person-I'm way more extroverted than I thought. That there are bigger things in life than coffee.
Leaving was a tough decision in some ways. It means stepping out of my comfort zone. But it is the best decision I've made in a long time. It is a decision that is going to benefit my family greatly. And essentially, make life better. I feel like it is one of the first steps outside of grief that I am taking. It doesn't mean that I'm not grieving anymore. But life has been chaos. And this is one step in the way of making it slightly less chaotic. I know having a new job won't solve life by any means. It doesn't bring my mom back. And it won't fix all my time issues or other things. But it will help bring some stability and regularity, which right now, I really need. So do my kids. I did not cry on my last day-in fact, I was almost giddy laughing.One co-worker even said to me "You are the old Rachael today." But that was confirmation to me that it was the right decision. I did cry just a tad on the way to work-but it was more about missing my mom that day.I shared every moment with her. And not being able to physically sit wiht her and talk to her about this new change has been hard. I still talk to her, though. Sounds crazy to most, but it helps.
I could write pages about my time at Starbucks. I've done a lot of reflection lately. But really, this begins a new chapter. A new journey into something to help me grow in new ways. New goals come with this. And new excitement about things, which has been missing lately. There will be that first day of school nervous feeling as I start, but really, I'm excited. And it feels good to feel excited again. My races bring out that feeling. Warrior Dash last weekend brought that. But so does this . It is the right thing. And opening a new chapter is always good.