Why I Will Always Have A Soft Spot for The Siren
I worked at Starbucks for a year before going to Istanbul this summer. I have always found that the siren has always caused a bit of a stir among students. They typically either love Starbucks, pumpkin spice lattes and all, or they hate Starbucks and go to a coffee shop that none of us have heard of to spite the industry. (Of course there are those who don’t like coffee but are those people going to really make it four years without developing a taste for the stuff? I don’t think so.)
When I quit I was quite bitter with the company. Despite the benefits they give the pay is still fairly shitty given the job requirements. Getting paid like you work fast food but being expected to serve like you’re a professional gets old after awhile. Once I quit many baristas asked me why I did. I would simply state that I got tired of ‘getting paid in Spotify and coffee beans.’ The barista who asked typically would grin and then grimace like he had realized he had been poisoned. Poor guy was still getting paid in Spotify and coffee beans. He didn’t need the reminder.
I was still feeling quite a bit of animosity towards the company when I set off to Istanbul to study abroad. Twenty hours of flight time later and Istanbul hit me like a ton of bricks. The language sounding like nothing Duolingo had prepared me for. The food was from another world. There was no sense of personal space and the heat was like nothing the South had gotten me accustomed to. I was in shock.
Two weeks passed and the culture shock was starting to wear off. I started trying to merge into this culture that the Melting Pot had never exposed me to. I was walking with my roommates in Bebek, which is this beautiful seaside attraction, and stopped in my tracks.
There she was.
Having seen nothing but foreign people, places, and brands I was overjoyed to see her. It was like running into an old friend on your first day of school. I had to go in.
There was the cool breeze of A/C, (a good number of Europeans don’t believe in A/C, why I don’t know) you could hear the whir of espresso machines and the steaming of milk. I was in heaven.
I joyfully spoke the language of my people: ‘Grande cold brew’ and nearly hugged the barista when she wrote it down on a cup. She understood me. Fourteen days of people looking at me blankly and she understood me.
I got my drink and sank into a comfy chair. Words cannot describe the kind of bliss I felt in that Starbucks that afternoon. For a few moments I was no longer homesick, this was the closest I had been to anything like home and ooooooh Mamma it felt good.
I came back to the States with a different appreciation for Starbucks. For many it is a daily routine or a place to study. For me it was an oasis in a time I felt weakest. I will always be grateful for that.
Starbucks, I love you. Just pay your people more. Serving white people is hard work.