18.Dec.09 at 14:43
I think baristas may just have the best service industry jobs in the world. Are there any other jobs better positioned to turn someone's day around for the better?
Perhaps it was the caffeine hitting my system from the chai I had purchased from the two friendly, upbeat baristas at Starbucks, but the cute girl at Allaan Brothers who helped me pick out tea to give as a white elephant gift exchange definitely seemed to be what made my night (not only did she offer suggestions with reasons, but also drew a festive Christmas tree on the bag for me.)
Think about it, who better is there than a barista to be able to brighten someone's day? The banter can be light, jovial, and cut off before any awkwardness arises between two strangers with nothing more apparently in common than a beverage. People like to be noticed, especially in places where there is not much reason to be. You go to a cafe to purchase a drink, meet someone else, or sit alone and read. The barista is there to facilitate the transaction. For them to take full notice of you causes those warm fuzzy feelings of someone noticing and caring: it's really not in their job description (though I think some business realize the perks and search these personalities out).
As a waiter, your interaction is much more drawn out. The length of time someone is at a table you wait upon may allow the relationship to deepen, yet because of the continual mode of serving, it is difficult to do more than make repeated small-talk. Close repetitious instances of small-talk are difficult and awkward. A barista has the advantage of time elapsing between meetings and small-talk, allowing for it to be natural to ask "How are you?" upon each instance. Slowly, personal details will be revealed and a regular patron may find themselves in a natural friendship.
While a waiter also has more opportunities to add those "little touches" to create a great experience, the delicacy needed to not appear a suck-up is difficult to achieve. A barista has one chance, and doing it once per one small visit magnifies its significance.
Once a restaurant is slow, and a friendship is established, a waiter may have the advantage in deep conversation; however, I do not view that in the same light as a brightening a day. I may enjoy the friendship of a waiter after a friendship has formed, but it is the almost inconsequential few minutes with a barista that can really make me smile as I walk away - because of their friendliness and charm to a stranger who just wants his coffee.
It is this possibility that makes me want to take up a part-time job as a barista. To be the guy behind that someone always hopes is behind the counter because he brightens their morning as they gear up for another work day, or gives encouragement as final exams loom.
And couldn't it, therefore, be said that it is a very important job for Christians to hold? While we must take care of the widows and orphans, let us also put ourselves in a position to bring some love into people's day-to-day lives. My previous pastor made it a point to get to know the baristas' names at his local coffee shop; I would love to see the reverse position intentionally taken too - not for extra tips or job security, but simply to bless people - to show them kindness and love. Which, I believe, is what Christians are called to do.
I want to be a barista. They have the best job in the world: loving people.