October 13, 2010

A difference of miles and degrees

A look at a map will not yield much in the way of separation between Lawrence and Olathe. And yet, to any resident of the area, the two towns seem wholly dissimilar. Olathe resides in Johnson County, and is thus thought of, by most, as a bastion of middle class, middle aged, god fearing white folks. Lawrence is not so wealthy, and hardly so mainstream. It embraces the odd, to such an extent that it perpetuates such behavior. To live in Lawrence, to be part of whatever scene there might be, is to embrace and further one's own eccentricities.

In some ways, I fit in rather nicely in Lawrence. Much better than I'd guess I would in Olathe, in any case. Though I'm hardly the blatant individualist by Lawrence's rather lofty standards, I certainly do have my eccentricities. My coffee obsession, let's say, might be foremost among those. And so, when I found that I'd be working in the Olathe Borders location, helping to man its decimated coffee bar, I thought I'd be in for a hair tearing evening of soccer moms and skinny vanilla lattes.

What I found, in fact, was a much more pleasant experience that I'd have hoped for. For one, the majority of my drinks sold were straight coffee. Which, of course, warms my heart just a little bit. But what I found was that soccer moms aren't necessarily the evil soulless you know whats they're often made out to be. That is, affluent WASPs can be nice. At least last evening, they were, with not one exception. All the customers were friendly, and although the tips were severely lacking, I chalk that up more to their lack of knowledge of coffee bar culture in general, rather than any general rudeness.

That combined with the familiar setting (corporate setups do have their advantages in that regard) assisted me in what, all things considered, felt like a downright productive shift. In fact, I think I steamed some of the most consistently perfect milk I've ever produced. Which, perhaps, owes to the fact that I was very attentive to the entire process. Though the setting was eerily similar, it was not the same. That, I think, led me to pay very close attention to every minute detail, so that nothing would go wrong. I think I succeeded. Of course, since I doubt very much I'll ever be working there again, the perfection (or not) of my close isn't my greatest concern. Rather, I'm happy that all the customers seemed happy with my efforts, and that I was happy they were happy.

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