As a side note, as I write this, James has decided to take a break from his thesis writing to sew himself a mongolian deel. See picture. I'm married to a certified weirdo, and I love it!
I told James last week that one of the most interesting challenges of working at Starbucks has been that I always have to be prepared to meet anyone, at any time, from any stage of life. You know how there are days when you just don't feel like talking to people? I can't have those days. If there were signs pointing to Historical Points of Interest in Jessica Frey's Life pinpointed in and around Winnipeg, you couldn't choose a more central geographical location for me to work. Here is the list of obscure people that I might converse with on a weekly basis. From listening to these conversations, you'd think that I am intimately acquainted with all of these people, but really its me pulling out that extroverted side that we talked about yesterday.
1) People I went to school with and have not seen in 10 years (usually quite fun)
2) Parents of people I went to school with (informative)
3) People I knew from random Youth Group gatherings way back when (could be from any number of churches from Winnipeg, Steinbach or rural Manitoba). These interactions usually start with, "I have the feeling that I know you..." and we proceed to play an elimination game of how our paths may have intersected.
4) Old neighbors that moved away to the Yukon when I was seven years old (this happened last week, and I was truly at a loss for how to make conversation without sounding like an idiot. Nodding and saying "Wow...!" with great emotion made the basis of that conversation). Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy seeing them again.
5) People that I went to camp with (usually pretty fun). Thankfully, we are usually able to recognize each other and there is none of this "Should I identify myself?" question.
6) People I played sports against. Growing up in a small town, we always played sports against the same people, so we were able to watch our "rivals" grow up at the same time we did.
7) People from my small town who were younger than me that I unfortunately did not pay attention to. They recognize me, and I usually don't recognize them because I never stopped thinking of them as being in Gr.5, 6, 7, (fill in the blank). When I complimented one girl on her memory, she graciously said, "Oh its okay, you know how you always remember the people you looked up to!" A very kind thing to say, mostly serving to make me feel bad for not being able to place her!
8) Teachers. I saw my science teacher a few weeks ago and was astonished to see that he looked younger now than he had when I was in Gr.10. Maybe it was the loss of the beard, or maybe my idea of what looks "old" has changed. Whatever the case, I promptly stuck my foot in my mouth by saying "You might be interested to know that despite how much I hated Science class I actually went on to get a Bachelor of Science!". Realizing what had come out of my mouth, I blushed heavily. But being a good sport, he laughed and said "Its okay, I probably deserved that!"
9) University classmates. Awkward. They know what I trained for and don't really know what to say to me when they find that I am working to make the world a healthier place by making such "nutritious" beverages for people. Sidenote: I actually had a woman on the Atkins Diet come and order a Venti latte with sugar free syrup made with 35% milk fat whipping cream (liquid form). Biologically, the Atkins Diet makes for a very interesting study. I can theoretically see its use to lose large amounts of weight quickly (not healthily). But if I imagine drinking that drink... shudder! I registered enough shock on my face at her order that I had to cover up somehow. "...that must be... um, thick".
Before I go on to number 10, here is a related story. I had an athlete training for the Olympics come in and ask for nutritional information about her drink. Making conversation, I mentioned that I studied nutrition. Her eyes widened and she proceeded to lecture me on how I should go about seizing control of my life and knock on government doors to personally fund me in the fight to obtain Registered Dietitian status. When I tried to explain that things were a little more complicated than they seem, her harsh reply was that I wasn't allowed to give her that load of #@$! My manager was furious. A few days later when she came back, she saw me behind the counter and looked shocked. "YOU'RE STILL HERE???" I suppose she honestly thought that she had inspired me to instantly quit my job.
10) University professors. Slightly less awkward. Despite large class sizes, they do remember me, but thankfully, they have a larger perspective of the obstacles life can throw onto one's path to fame and glory.
11) James' classmates. Based on the fact that you know you know each other and you are face-to-face, you have to make conversation. But since the relationship is entirely vicarious, there is very little to say. Best to keep those short and sweet.
12) People from jobs I used to work at. A while ago I recognized someone I used to work with there. I sat there desperately hoping that she wouldn't recognize me. Close, but no cigar... out came the dreaded words. "You used to work at Tim Hortons in Steinbach didn't you?" I debated with myself if it was worthwhile to state that contrary to how it seems, I haven't actually been working at coffee shops for the last 10 years. Blatant self-promotion, or humility? Blatant self promotion won out!
13) People from the various churches I attended. Usually quite pleasant.
14) People who read this blog during the Krang Dynasty (aka. tumor treatments) and were concerned for my well being. My coworkers were quite astonished one day when a girl I hadn't seen in years came in and said "Jessica! I never see you, I just read about you!" Is Jessica on the front cover of tabloids?
15) People who I have chatted with over the counter and gotten to know. Unfortunately, I never remember faces, and I can't tell you how embarrassing it is to have a "new" conversation with someone, only to realize that they already know me. This frequently happens with Chinese customers. I'll often chat in Mandarin with Chinese customers, but unfortunately, I am more concentrated on their drinks than I am on their faces.
All these, of course, are in addition to people like my family who frequently visit me. For the most part, I quite enjoy seeing people, and I try my best to put them at ease with the unexpected interaction. It's one thing to see someone across the aisle at the grocery store that you know, and decide that you don't feel like bumping into them (we've all done it!). Its another to stand in line at Starbucks, looking forward to your drink, and instead seeing good old Jessica. She's standing there right in front of you and you suddenly feel like you need to come up with something to say to her. No escape routes!
If you should find yourself in this intimidating situation, never fear, I will do my best to make you comfortable! As far as I'm concerned, its part of my job description! All in a day's work...