Monday, September 17, 2007

How Starbucks Saved My Life

This is a very fascinating article from the New York Times. There's a new book out, "How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else", about an advertising executive who lost his job and then become a barrista at Starbucks. Thankfully, my library has it. A really good movie I saw awhile ago was "The Pursuit of Happyness" with Will Smith, and I feel this is "The Pursuit of Happyness" in reverse. A man who's already at the top comes crashing down to the bottom, takes a job at Starbucks and really puts all of himself into it, and finds that he loves the job. I don't think I'll be at liberty to observe much more until I read this book, but there's something to be said for the virtue of work. There is no job too menial, just the fact that you're working is very important. We live in a dog-eat-dog world in which, all too often, unless you're at the very top, making lots of money and big decisions, you're looked down upon. We forget that the people who mop floors at our offices, make our Big Macs (or lattes, in this case), play an essential part in keeping our way of life how it is.

By the same token, it's of importance that an employer, no matter if it's employing 10 people or 100,000, treats its employees with respect and dignity, and makes their working environment one in which they look forward to being in every day. I'm a huge Starbucks guy, and while there are things I don't like about it, there are a lot of things they appear to do right, like giving health insurance to their employees and making them generally proud to be there. One of the blogs I visit regularly is the Starbucks Gossip blog, and many of the people who post there are Starbucks employees (mostly barristas); most of them love their jobs. I think that's a rarity when it comes to a large corporate outfit in the service industry. I haven't searched for, say, a McDonald's or Target employee blog, but if I were to, I don't think it would be too flattering of those respective companies. If I didn't already have a part-time job (hopefully, only until I finish my paralegal certification, which I might begin taking this winter), I think I'd be interested in trying out being behind a Starbucks counter, rather than in front of it.

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