Make Your Own Sandwich: I’m Free!

Here’s the whole deal. After I left desk job land, which was not for me, I handed out my resume to local coffee spots by literally walking around and giving someone behind a counter a piece of paper with my formatted life on it. One of them hired me and I worked there for two years. It was time to move on, so I did. I worked somewhere else, an impossible part of Brooklyn to access with no public transit; the first year I worked there I had to take the 2 ten stops and walk 20 minutes; the second time I took the Q three stops and walked 20 minutes. Then March of 2020 came and no one knew what to do. We were given the option to not go into work this week (3/13), which I took them up on. It was the beginning, where we were told to wash our hands. Luckily, the city was replacing for the first time everrrrrr the water pipes in this neighborhood thus shutting off the water for entire blocks for days at a time. We were a cafe serving food & beverages to the general public without potable water (illegal) for days and days, while on other days when our water was on, the public bathrooms (I regularly got stuck cleaning) served as a bathroom for every office worker in a five WeWork radius. It was after a We Must Wash Our Hands To Fight Whatever This COVID Thing Is email sent out to staff that I actually spoke up: can’t wash hands without water, etc. Reader, I never went back to work there. In fact, after months had passed and I bought myself a bike in order to commute to this impossible spot, I spent one of many (read: seven months worth) unemployed afternoons biking there on a test run to find the building gutted, not an industrial fridge or chair, or table, or structure in sight. It was then I knew my relatively new Danskos were gone.

Months later I got a text from my previous boss (we have the same name) who was now able to hire people after laying off their staff when lockdown hit. They managed to stay open and pivot to takeaway groceries, casseroles, milk, eggs, yadda. Do I need a job, she asks? Sure!

Reader, another two plus years past. And while I quietly bite my cheeks, kept my head down, did the work, put on a smile, because that’s why they call it work, for the last several months, after their business changed, shelves came down, a backyard seating area for 50+ was built, a second ish-store was opened next door, they hired a GM who came in and hated me (and vindictively bully-scheduled a 21 and 24 y/o out of a job) yadda, it was after the umpteenth pseudo-nervous breakdown that I decided I could not spend a fifth Retail Xmas Season working at this small shop. I am privileged enough to have financial cushion and plan (a personal rule: if you work in service, and can do this: always have a few months of rent & bills saved up just in case) to say: take this job and shove it. I put in my two weeks the Monday before Thanksgiving. My boss with the same name asked if I could give them more time because of the approaching holiday season, and I said, “no.”

So to every person I’ve been pouring coffee for for the last two years: bye! I didn’t say goodbye to any regulars, like I did the first time. One of them (then the head of global Snapchat, previously Michelle Obama’s press secretary, gave me a clipping of ivy from the White House mantle; we have kept it alive as if there is hope for the future. Thanks, Jojo.) I politely updated the opening & closing checklists I wrote several months prior, did my job one last time, did the coffee, chips & snax inventory, wrapped several million more sandwiches, again, answered and asked all the same questions, kept my head down some more, made it through the day and all the people I hate (and love), trained one more new employee, and then I got on my bike and went home.

To one of the best working jazz drummers in Brooklyn who can only eat a scrambled egg, not a fried one (GOD FORBID), you, too, can go buy ice for $4 a bag because you cannot manage to put water in your ice cube trays at home because now its winter. To the woman (who also shares my name, goddammit) who I’ve had to teach about steaming, burning, and spoiling milk when she asks for an extra hot oat latte with half the amount of espresso (hah!) who requested the cookie on the bottom as if she was selecting a cupcake in her third grade class, who also does not tip: please go fuck yourself. I know you microwave a 20oz cup of steamed oat milk when you get home anyways: I need a PowerPoint to explain how disgusting that is. When you told your friend who was treating you to coffee and snacks that day, and you said, “oh you don’t have to tip,” when he asked, I was right in front of you. I see you. I see all of you I served for YEARS who did not tip me. If you can afford a regular, or even treat of a $8+ dollar drink, you can afford the extra dollar tip. No Tip George who talked the Dead with me and invited me to AA and regularly spent upwards of $80 per tab: I see you. No Tip Susan: I see you, too. And James: please fuck off and learn how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich; save yourself the time you spend complaining about spending money for food & coffee twice a day four+ times a week.

I know how you take your coffee but I don’t know your name. I will strike up a conversation with you about how the new Arctic Monkeys record isn’t really for me, but I guess I should listen to it again. Or we’ll talk about Kraftwerk and Prog Rock. Or have 20 minute asides when Bowie dies. You’ll autograph me a copy of your first book and tell me to keep writing, I’ll read your second book (very well reported but my god, we get it, you’re from Chicago; oops you’ll have to go somewhere else for Challah on Fridays), and then you’ll tell me that even your friends with multiple books out can’t get a literary agent (yes, I know; I used to read those slushpiles). I’ll give you advice on how to make pie crust (use your hands and barely touch it!). Jason who works at Google and wears flip flops all year round: you have a good one, dude. And Mark Dean: I have no beef with you. You’re lovely. You have a great rest of your day.

There are so many beefs, so many rude, arrogant men I want to spit on. I want it (guess what) to rot and fall off. I want to tell you to parent your child, and please keep your dog on a leash while they’re in our food store; *bitchy white woman voice* “she’s service.” Iykyk. I have so much to say, which is why I blog for free!

Take your fucking job and shove it. This is the third job I’ve quit as an adult (OK so one of them I might’ve been fired from, see: actual nervous breakdown, it’s never been clear), and I’ve left this job once before. I will never go back to work there. It served its purpose in my life, I love those friends & coworkers, and I’ll miss debating shit at 7am with you, Harlen, I really will. But I have moved on. I don’t care if you’re OK with the cheddar and kale, in fact I know its cheaper to fry an egg at home. Make your own damn sandwich. Drip coffee for $4/12oz cup is for suckers. (If you buy a small black coffee for $3.81 four days a week for 50 weeks a year, that’s $762.) Everyone is a sucker yet you keep so many of us employed. Workers of the world unite! Tip your barista! No Gods No Masters! Quit a job at least once in your life! Be free, eat trash. Take this job and shove it.