It was a busy morning at the local coffee shop as morning rush hour began to pick up. The room was warm and small, a personable space bustling with the sounds of coffee grinding, customers chatting, and baristas calling out orders. It was quite a typical scene for most people who went there. Behind the bar, all the baristas were scrambling around with something in both hands as orders piled up. So many things needed to be done while in such a small area was just physically impossible without some type of hold up.
One of the baristas, Becky, was in no rush to keep the line moving by filling in the orders of the waiting customers. With a smile, she wrote down the orders of each customer on her notepad.
Becky was fairly new, since she was hired just a month ago, but she was quite skilled and experienced. When she was younger, she visited Milan, Italy, during the summer. She would always visit the fancy coffee shop near a small street that her aunt worked in. While she was there, Becky saw how the customers at the coffee shop were always so patient, as her aunt always made sure to keep the customers happy, so they could stay, chat, and drink some wonderfully made coffee.
Becky wanted to become a barista just like her aunt, so by the time she was in her early twenties, she started training and was hired to become an employee at the coffee shop that she was currently working in. She was quite hardworking and well-liked, never worrying about long lines or complaining customers. She really liked her customers as much as she liked making coffee.
While some of the other baristas found their job boring, repetitive, a little stressful, and quite hectic, Becky remained cheerful and optimistic. Most of the other baristas didn't care about the customers, but Becky, found her customers quite enjoyable. Many of them knew her, and it brought a wonderful amount of joy to her otherwise dull choice in career. One by one, the customers ordered what they wanted and Becky jotted them down on her notepad without a single complaint.
"Can I have two Caramel Ribbon Crunches, venti size, with extra whipped cream?" asked a slightly chubby man.
"Yes, sir," said Becky. "We'll make it right away. Next, please!"
"Think you can get me a venti Vanilla Bean Frappe with non-fat milk?" asked a man with glasses.
"Sure," said Becky. "Coming right up!"
"I would like a white chocolate caramel cappuccino," said a woman.
"Yes, ma'am," said Becky. "We'll make it in just a few minutes."
Once the line was clear, Becky looked at her notepad and read through all the orders that she filled. Now, all she had to do was help her fellow baristas make the fancy coffees that the customers ordered.
"Allright, guys," she said. "We have a lot of customers waiting! Better get brewing!"
Becky opened her notepad and tore out the page that had all the orders that she wrote down. As she read through it out loud, she told the baristas what the customers had ordered.
The baristas were a little bit shocked that Becky had actually gone through nine orders in less than five minutes. They started brewing the coffees right away.
In no time, Becky got the orders filled up and ready to go. She took the coffees and pastries on a tray and served them to the customers.
After all of that was taken care of, she went into the kitchen with the other baristas before the next shift started. She noticed that they were looking a little frazzled.
"Ugh..." muttered Chris. "I can't believe you don't go through as much stress as we do, Beck. You can deal with really long lines and fill customers' orders faster than we can. Serving all those coffees and pastries is quite a total pain in my opinion. Do you think that's fair?"
Becky chuckled. "Oh, Chris. I used to spend time at that fancy coffee shop in Milan, where my aunt worked during the summer. I saw how she was almost always patient with her customers. She would take her time and prepare the orders properly, then she would serve the drinks and pastries to her awaiting customers. Everyone liked how she never rushed to get things done. Like my aunt, I'm a persevering kind of person, and I just take my time and make sure I don't mess anything up."
"Are you crazy?" sighed Chris. "I can't believe you've had all that training, and yet you still remain optimistic about your job. I don't care what the heck your silly aunt taught you, and I just want to get this shift over and done with so I can just get back home, since I tend to get sick from the smell of coffee brewing."
"C'mon, Chris," sighed Becky. "You're way to pessimistic. You should just try a little optimism once in a while. Besides, making these fancy coffees might be a little difficult, but it's really a simple process, merely a matter of physics; actions and reactions; chemicals and forces in their proper arrangement. It is a matter of application of energy in the form of pressure and heat. But, as anything is a matter of physics, there is a magic between the motions, something strange in the unification of elements. As in breathing, moving, or making love there is something special in the spirit, the will, or the desire; the motivating force that manifests itself in the culmination of the process, in the creation of something new, that is not what began the process at all, but their combination and something more."
"Thank you, Captain Obvious," said Janice, rolling her eyes in disapproval.
"Unbelievable," muttered Chris under his breath, thinking that one of his co-workers was crazy enough to relate brewing coffee to laws of physics and the power of alchemy.
Once the next shift started, Becky went to the kitchen to help the other baristas, while Chris went over to the bar to fill out the customers' orders.
When Chris went into the kitchen, he told the baristas the orders that he filled out, and they got started right away. Becky brewed the lattes, mochas, and other fancy coffees for the awaiting customers. It was a pastime – one of those pastimes that made the job rather interesting. As she was brewing, she observed on how her fellow baristas were doing. She saw that some of them looked kind of stressed and bored, and she could understand why. Janice was tired of the standard loop of tunes played daily. Chris wasn't a big fan of the typical morning rush. Darnell didn't like the silly promotional meetings held on a weekly basis. Some of them were bored of sitting by and handing off coffees and observing from a comfortable distance. Becky saw how some of her co-workers always observed, but never interacted with, each of their customers, and even Chris looked like he just wanted to give one of those customers a piece of his mind. She began to think that, maybe, some of her co-workers thought their job was more trouble than it was worth.
But she didn't care. She just chose to follow her own path, and she knew how to make her job easier.
Meanwhile, at the counter, Chris looked around the room. The calm, peaceful atmosphere almost never had any life in it. It was always the same: Pictures of fancy artwork were hung on the walls. People were sitting at their spots and sipping their coffee, some of them were studying, and others often looked out the window. The only word that Chris had to describe the atmosphere of the room was: "Really?"
The customers were pretty annoying as well. They always ordered these really fancy drinks that almost seemed impossible to brew. Whenever Chris, or one of his co-workers, didn't get an order right or got the orders mixed up, the customer would sometimes complain, and Chris would sincerely apologize and give them their correct order, but sometimes, he felt like he wanted to yell at them.
Chris just couldn't imagine how good Becky was with customers. Becky always got the orders right, and whenever she was around, the customers didn't give one single complaint. It was amazing how she stayed optimistic and confident. He had never seen her get tired or bored and he never heard her yell at the customers, not even once. That's why he was so unsure about her. Chris thought to himself that, despite her optimism, she might screw up someday, somehow.
Janice was brewing the mochas and espressos. This part of her job wasn't exactly her favorite, since some of the coffees were so complicated to make. Sometimes, when she brewed some of the coffees, she would make a small mistake, such as not paying attention or try to do many things at the same time. The consequences were things like the milk boiling over or the coffee being over-brewed. There were also some new coffee recipes that some weirdo came up with, and to Janice, they seemed pretty difficult to make. Janice wasn't so sure how Becky could brew these really fancy coffees without making any mistakes. There had to be something more to this job than just juicing all these coffee beans.
Darnell worked as a cashier. He always counted the total amount of money that the customers spent when ordering coffees or pastries or something like that. Sometimes, he believed that the amount of money he got while working on shifts wasn't enough. He thought to himself, "If Becky was the cashier, how would she handle this?"
He didn't quite know. Neither did any of the other baristas.
None of the other baristas could believe that Becky was always so positive and confident about her job. She often got the orders right, never got any complaints from the customers, and always had an optimistic attitude. Whenever she served coffees or pastries to her customers, they would pay, and she would often tell them, "Thanks for stopping by! I'm certainly looking forward to seeing you again." But the funny thing was that, even though baristas like Chris would say it in a flat, sarcastic tone, Becky would say it in a cheerful, positive tone, that didn't sound quite stilted or deadpan. When she brewed coffees, she never made a single mistake. Nobody knew how Becky could handle any customer or fancy coffee orders so easily.
As the shift ended, Becky returned to the kitchen with the other baristas.
"I can't believe this, Becky," muttered Chris. "Why is it that you're always happy-go-lucky when you have a stupid job like this one? Do you think that's fair to any of us?"
"What do you mean?" asked Becky.
"Well," said Chris. "Every day, we go through the same, boring junk. The customers are so annoying. They walk into the coffee shop, and they often disrespect us. We could argue that those customers might be loitering. Some of us just want to argue with our customers if we get their orders wrong, and we mostly screw up on these fancy coffees that we're trying to brew. They question us and our authority, and it's just...it's just so obnoxious. Do you think that's fair that you always remain so positive?!"
"Wait..." said Becky. "I think that you guys are just stressing out and overworking. You're putting way too much pressure on yourselves, and you just want to keep your customers satisfied. All that overworking is making you pessimistic and negative, which causes negative responses from customers. When I saw my aunt work in the coffee shop in Milan, I saw that she always stayed calm, even when something went wrong. When I first started working as a barista, I learned that being optimistic and positive gives you more satisfied customers. So, I just stay positive. I work hard and take my time, and it actually pays off. My customers are always happy because of my hard work and persistence. Maybe you should try staying optimistic, and you should take your time when brewing coffees and serving customers their orders. It really pays off."
The baristas looked at each other, and as they listened to Becky's words, they began to understand.
"She's right," said Janice. "We have been a little pessimistic. I guess we should try a little optimism and persistence so we can get better reactions from our customers."
"I agree," said Darnell.
"You know what, Beck?" said Chris. "Maybe you're right. Staying positive and working hard really does pay off. I guess we should take your word and start being more persistent and optimistic during our shifts. We've been stressing out and overworking for too long, so maybe it's time we started to change."
So, the baristas had a change of heart. They started becoming more optimistic and hardworking, making sure they took their time so they could get orders right, and their actions received positive feedback from their customers.
Finally, after an hour or two had passed, Becky's shift was over and it was time for her to go home.
"Thanks for giving us advice, Becky," said Chris.
"Hey, no problem," said Becky as she hung up her apron. "I'm glad that you guys decided to change your attitude."
"Maybe your aunt was right," said Chris. "Optimism and persistence really pay off when serving customers. We saw how happy they were when we followed your advice."
"Yeah," said Becky. "I guess you guys can be happy with your job, too. See you tomorrow."
"You too," said Chris.
Becky started thinking about her day of work as she walked out the door of the shop and went to her car. As she drove home, she couldn't help but think about how wonderful it was to be a patient, optimistic, hardworking barista. If one thing was for certain, it was that Becky was having fun with her job. Lots and lots of fun.