When my sons were much younger they loved dinosaurs, specifically the animated series of movies starring a group of singing dinosaurs called Land before Time. Now they are young men out on their own with jobs, adult responsibility and are making their way in this land. I found singing dinosaurs irresistible too, so I watched the movies with them on VHS. At this point in my life I had just left a career at Starbuck behind. Why? Read Tripio for more on that. For today’s post I am focussing on the time when most of the country was still living in an era I have long referred to as “The Land before Starbucks”.
I have recently discovered Reddit. There is a dinosaur joke in there somewhere. I have been looking over their r/Starbucks page to see what the barista of today is doing, as opposed to the barista of Jay’s day in Tripio. The first thing I noticed is that today’s barista is as good with their camera as they are with the steaming wand.
Many of those baristas are close to the same age as my sons. So, as I looked over the photo posts I wondered if and what they know of The Land Before Starbucks. What was this place? Does it occur to them that such a place existed?
In Tripio, Jay’s prehistoric landscape shared much with the snapchatted one in which the modern barista roams. Tripio is three plots and narratives alongside and intertwined with each other. The Starbucks growth narrative is told from a barista’s perspective. Jay starts out as a barista and even when promoted up the chain to store manager, Jay is a barista at heart. After being promoted Jay still takes pride in his performance on the espresso bar at his current store on Diversey in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. He realizes that he must display mastery of the espresso bar for the customers and store functionality, but mostly to”earn the respect of everyone he works with.”
Removing the camera phone from the picture, I see more similarities than differences to Jay’s barista days and those reflected on the Reddit posts. It was tough in the trenches for Jay in early 90’s in Chicago and it is tough in the Starbucks trenches today. There is no hiding in a cubicle, breaks are hard to come by when it’s busy and you are always on stage and always being judged by the incredibly fickle and self centered human race. In short, Jay may have been working in the Starbucks Jurassic Era and the Reddit Baristas are in the modern day, but the job of barista is not easy. And it never was.
I hope that when this generation of baristas find its way to reading Tripio they will pull a couple twenty second shots for Jay and his fellow dinosaurs. Because, those dinosaurs helped create the Land of Starbucks and thanks to them, today’s barista can now post proof of its existence on Reddit.
“May I help who’s next”