I have mixed feelings abut Starbucks, which (for those of you who have been living in a cave for the last few decades) is a ubiquitous coffee shop chain (actually, it probably exists in said cave). It’s everywhere, but until I was about 16 or so, there wasn’t one in my local town. Opening one was A Big Deal, and although I never actually went there – I tried to organise a trip for my birthday but nothing came of it – I was fascinated.
Strange? Maybe. I didn’t really drink a lot of coffee until I went to university (I’ve always been more of a tea drinker), but even then, the idea of going to a coffee shop kind of eluded me. Even if some of my sexual fantasies included going into Starbucks, I never actually managed to enter the shop…
…until I was 18, and applying for a job.
I still don’t know why I applied for a job at a place I’d never actually been to. I’d decided at this point that I liked coffee, which helps. But I was in the middle of my A-Levels, very nearly finished, spent pretty much every weekend travelling to Birmingham, and was going on to university in a few months. It wasn’t a good time to apply. Why I got an actual interview I’ll never know.
To my credit, though, the interview went relatively well – I’d have to tie my long, wild rockstar hair back (but that was fine) and cover up any tattoos (but I don’t have any!), and although I didn’t actually get the job in the end, the friendly manager assured me that it was purely because they were only looking for somebody full-time, and I didn’t quite fit the bill there.
Is what she said.
A week earlier, I had been sitting in Starbucks for the first time ever answering questions. It hadn’t been going badly and, although I’d never really had many job interviews, I had a good enough feeling so far.
“Can you tell me about a time you’ve used your initiative recently?” she finished with.
I mentally flicked through things I’d done at school and home and came up completely blank. I could, of course, have said something – mention jazz band or being a library monitor (I was a prefect; I could have said that!) – but I wanted something a little more interesting. It hit me like a ton of bricks…
…but how could I say it without rationalising why?
“Yes,” I said confidently. “Recently I booked a hotel room to find, when I got there, that they had forgotten my booking. After negotiating with the hôtelier, I got my reservation fee back and booked into the hotel next door. I got the room I wanted, rather than acquiescing and taking the only room the first one had available.”
“That’s impressive,” said the friendly manager, “for someone your age. Why didn’t you take the room in the first hotel?”
“Oh,” I said, before deciding to finish truthfully. “I wanted a double room. I had someone with me, you see. The first hotel only had twin rooms.”
“I see. Who was with you, if you don’t mine me asking?”
“My girlfriend. We wanted to escape life for a while.”
The friendly manager gave me a knowing smile and scribbled something like
wanted to have sex with girlfriend so changed hotels
on her notes.
“I think you’re going to enjoy working here,” she said primly, gently but firmly chivvying me out of the door. “You’ll hear back in a week.”
I didn’t get the job because they were looking for somebody full-time. That’s the reason and I’m very much sticking to that explanation.