I drank a lot back then. I barely even remember working at Starbucks. It must have been almost 10 years ago. I drank whiskey before work, during work and after work. One of my supervisors, Leigh, drank more than I did. He was a total asshole and his breath always smelled like Guinness. He had a big, smelly beard and everyone hated him. Especially me. One time, we were helping customers, and there was a line stretching out the door. “Get me a fucking latte,” he yelled. “Fuck you,” I replied. All the businessmen in line looked nervous and pissed off. Leigh and I kept arguing until we dropped everything and tried to strangle each other to death. One of our co-workers had to pry us apart. Leigh apologized a few hours later, and I could tell by the way he looked at me that he meant it. I apologized back, but I slashed his bike tires the next day, just in case.
Starbucks was all I had.
One day when I came back from lunch, I walked into the back room and Arthur, the flamboyant senior citizen with a mustache, was snorting meth from an empty lip-balm container. He freaked out when he saw me and ran back out to the floor like nothing happened. Nobody cared that he was a tweaker because he was less depressing when he was high.
Starbucks was the best job I ever had. Nobody followed the dress code. It was like a slum inside of a store, complete with whores, junkies, drunks and thieves. I thought it was clever to take the Starbucks Coffee shirt and scratch out the letters so that it read “Fuck Off.” We ate all our food for free.
One day my boss sat me down in her office. “You’re a really good employee, Josh,” she said. I felt kind of bad because I wasn’t, but I took the compliment.
After several months of working there, I went out one night, got into a fistfight and ended up in jail. After two days of missing work, I called my boss.
“Josh, you’re going to have to come in and talk to me,” she said. She was crying.
“Can you just tell me what you’re going to say now? Because I can’t just walk out of here.”
“Just come in when you get out,” she said.
After I was fired, I got a new job as a dishwasher in a state building. I missed working at Starbucks, but I knew they would never hire me back.
Now I get paid way more to write. A couple weeks ago, I got a plain white envelope addressed from California State Controller John Chiang. Inside was a check for $125.96, from a class-action lawsuit that Starbucks lost because they mismanaged the way their tips were proportioned from October 2000 to February 2008.
I don’t even go to Starbucks anymore, I go to Peet’s. But I deposited my check and will probably spend it on something stupid. Sometimes I can’t even comprehend how ridiculous this world is.