Philosophy, Psychology, Nerdisms, Writing from the Trenches

Posts tagged “coffee

The End is Nigh

I’m a little bit in love with rampant fatalism. Why is the idea of the end of the world so attractive? It seems like everyone wants to see humanity come to its inevitable end at the hand of some violent, foreseeable (preventable?) catastrophe.

And, I’m not just talking about the whole 2012 Mayan thing.

I think humanity can only exist with the looming threat of complete disaster. I mean it. Check here. We are constantly expecting the other shoe to drop. I suppose that makes the first shoe our existence in general.

I don’t believe that 2012 will be the end of humanity, Earth, the way we do things, what have you. I do wonder what the next big prediction will be after 2012 (*cough* moon breaking orbit *cough).

Instead of focusing on major catastrophe, though, I’d like to focus on the small ones that are expected in our lifetime (not ending in 2012). This list is courtesy of my mother forwarding me emails. I hit unsubscribe, but it hasn’t caught on.

6 Things that will Disappear in Our Lifetime

1. The Post Office

Really? Really. I will concede that the post office has been in financial trouble for a long time, but as far as being unsustainable, I’m not really sure that’s true. It’s funded by the government.

Regardless, here’s your call to action:

Save the Mail

Every week, go over your Tweets. Compile them into one convenient document and send them to your top twenty followers. All @replies should also be compiled and mailed directly to the intended recipient. I purpose this stamp.

2. The Check

I agree. This is useless. Dump it.

3. The Newspaper

Two words: coffee shops. What else are people going to glance at while they wait for their coffee?

Oh, and there’s nothing better to start a camp fire/cozy house fire with. Papier mache! Birdcages! Lining the table before commencing art projects! You don’t know what you’re talking about. The newspaper’s not going anywhere.

4. The Book

I’m not even going to take this one seriously.

5. The Land Line Telephone

Refer to answer for #2-The Check

6. Music

I could write a whole blog post on this alone. Disgruntled curmudgeons (read: old people) seem to get it in their heads that when the music they like is in decline, all of music is in decline. You are wrong. Music is a staple in human society. We have made music for thousands of years. We will always make music.

This is an example of putting business too close to art. It’s like saying, “If there aren’t any newspapers, there will be no news.”

That’s not how it works. Don’t equate an industry with the actual artistic expression.

You can argue all you want. Like I said, I love the fatalists, the doom-predictors, the naysayers. I also think you’re getting all worked up over nothing. And that’s exactly what our alien overlords intended.

Chill out, guys. We’re going to be fine.


The Mysterious Retail Injury

I seem to be attracted to mildly hazardous jobs. Nothing incredible, like putting out oil fires, just the minor injuries.

I worked at a movie theater for a year, running the concession stand. I got an awesome visor, a nametag, and free movie-themed t-shirts. So what, The Thunderbirds was a flop. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

Anyway, as a concessionist, the duty of popping the popcorn fell on my young, but responsible shoulders. You see, it was a point of pride that our theater had the best popcorn formula out of the three local theaters. Some even used *gasp* pre-packaged popcorn. We popped ours fresh every day. We threw it out every night. When management wanted to save money on popping oil by altering the recipe, the staff rebelled. Sort of. We just ignored the mandate.

The thing about popcorn is that it’s a piece of fluff covered in hot oil. Back then, we didn’t have a door on our popper. If you were anywhere near it when it started popping, bob and weave, my friend. And, God help you if you thought you could beat it. And, God help you if you knew you couldn’t beat it, but the customer was late for their movie. You stick your arm in the burn machine, dammit.

A popcorn kernel burn isn’t very serious. It’s a quick flash of pain, less than a bee sting, than it’s back to scooping the popcorn into the bag. Though, unlike a bee sting, it leaves nice blotch of a scar behind, so small you don’t really notice it until you get a tan.
But, those injuries weren’t exactly mysterious. You took a risk, you challenged the machine, and you lost. Humanity has made that mistake before and will make it again

My current job is as a barista.

Yes, a job that requires me to jet superheated water through a metal tube into a metal pitcher that I have to hold up in order to make sure your latte gets no foam. Additionally, we bake our own cookies, grill sandwiches, and oven-roast pizza.
These things are hot.

And, even if you aren’t clumsy, there will inevitably be a time when you bump into a steam wand, or your fingers slip onto the top of the panini grill. All four of them. I had no feeling for a week.

But, where the hell did that massive bruise on my hip come from?

I’ve come home from my job with my hands chewed up with papercuts and I DON’T KNOW WHERE THEY CAME FROM!

Something lurks in every retail establishment. First, it dries out your skin. Then, it runs you into things when you’re not paying attention. Then, it cuts you, cuts so tiny, you don’t notice, until the aforementioned dry skin turns it into something much worse.
It’s a mystery, I tell you. And, I’m not the only one. When I asked my coworkers if they had ever experienced the “Mysterious Retail Injury”, they looked confused for a moment. But, after the awkward silence, they shouted “Yes! Oh, my God, where do those bruises come from?”

It’s strange to think that retail offers an environment that allows us to function at that level. I didn’t know that making coffee was so consuming that my mind blocked out pain. Who knew popping popcorn was such a hazard.

So far, it’s been nothing life-threatening. But, you never know what Mysterious Injury lurks around the corner.


A Journey Restarted

I have returned to The Fantastic World of Barnes & Noble (or the Nobley, for you who are savvy to the lingo). I’ve worked at B&N for upwards of three years, alternating between seasonal employ and full time. The last stint was a solid two year, full-time block that ended January 2nd of this year.

Let me tell you, I was ready to leave. I had a new job at a startup that looked promising, I was flexing my creative muscle to the point where my words were appearing on television (yeah, promos!). It was thrilling. I refused to enter my local bookstore for several months, holding on to my experience as only the righteously indignant can. I had my Nook. I had the library. I didn’t need to visit a store. Then, a friend of mine had a booksigning at a different but reachable B&N.

Since I’m so altruistic (insert chortle), I swallowed my foolish pride, pulled up my big girl panties, and stopped acting like a total wad.

It’s funny how often I need to do that.

Regardless of the burgeoning Texas heat, the door handle was still chill to the touch, promising an over-cooled environment on the inside. My moment of hesitation was short-lived, as a short, middle-aged man on the other side had no interest in waiting for me to rip the door open. I took a deep breath and entered. The dusky smell of thousands of pages washed over me, caught on the breeze of the air conditioning.

As I entered the B&N, a dribble of drool rolled down my chin as I stared at the shelves and shelves of books. That same old feeling started at the base of my spine and worked its way up into my brain. No matter how fast I read, no matter how much I tried, I would never, ever be able to read all these books. It was like the first time I ever entered a bookstore, but, somehow, so much more.

You see, back in the old days, I was trained in every department. Nook, music, even receiving in the back room. It was like I had returned to my home country. I knew this place, I fit in here, I could wax idiotic with the staff and they recognized me as a familiar traveler, if not a native of their local village. But, something was (and still is) missing. If this was the hero’s quest, what elixir had I returned with? Had a gained some knowledge in the last few months? Did I bring hope to the ones on the inside? I had missed an essential step in personal character growth and made a misstep along my journey.

In some ways, it didn’t matter. For me, the magic had been restored in the bookstore. I could return to my old place of employment without shame.

As it is wont to do, my financial situation became increasingly unstable. While I hadn’t locked my future into a startup, I had hoped it would provide a stable source of income for a year until I had saved up enough to move on.

Ho ho, not so. The time came when I realized I had to get a second job in order to stockpile any money. I cooked up a big humble pie and reapplied to my old job. They were more than happy to welcome me back into the fold.

Sometimes I think my life is a sitcom. It’s funny, it’s tragic, and nothing ever changes.

But, what if I want the hero’s journey? When does this girl get to leave the farm to pursue her destiny? Why am I so upset that real life doesn’t work out the way stories do?

It’s not too late to begin my epic quest, and it’s not like I don’t have options. But, it feels like I had almost hit the main road with my questing companions, only to realize I had to turn back because I forgot to pack my magic sword.


Aside

Six Degrees

Six degrees of Kevin Bacon: fun game or way of life?

Well, its turning into a way of life.

I’m booking my social calendar for the next few weeks (I know, who’d have thought a poor little introvert like me could be so popular?), and you’d be surprised at how many people I know have someone in LA. 

I’ve got the one who knows the neighborhoods (Starbucks, Tuesday evening), the one who was out there to do improv (Starbucks, Monday evening), the one who lives there and might have a job if I can’t find anything in entertainment (phone call, next Thursday). I know a guy who knows a guy who can do a thing or two.

Nice to know things work that way. I’m looking at jobs and should start applying soon. The NBC West Coast Page Program sounds exciting, a good job with networking opportunities. Unlike the NBC East Coast Page Program (Kenneth Parcell), the West Coast focuses more on entertainment rather than broadcast news. I could be seating people for Jay Leno. (If you know Jay Leno, you can send me his email and we can skip the middle man.)

There’s an internship at Screen Gems I have my eye on. It’s a development position, much like the one I had at Sony Television, which means I’m sure to love it. I have to make the dream list now. I’ll start on the sad, not ideal existence list probably next week.

Starbucks is on it.

There will always be Starbucks.

Next time, you find out how my parents react to the announcement.

Stay tuned…


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