Sometimes, you have to let go

“Coffee up.”

It’s what I’ve been used to hearing every couple of minutes at work. Drop everything you are doing and bring that delicious cup of coffee to the customer as soon as possible.

Time flies. In a blink of an eye I’ve already moved to this city for more than a season. I think that once you get into an established routine like working, things become a bit more predictable yet comfortable. For the most part it’s a good thing – we need to have a level of certainty in our lives, whether it’s our upcoming schedule, stable income, or what we want to achieve.

As with all things, all good things come to an end. Knowing when to let go at the right moment isn’t always easy. Back in early March, when my friends in Vancouver mentioned their plans of going to New Zealand in April, I knew that the opportunity was ripe. In a country where parts of it receives snow at higher altitudes, I knew that a non-winter season was probably the best time to go (reminder: winter and summer is swapped here in the southern hemisphere).

Last week I was told by my manager that the company would like to keep me on for the longer term. Noting that previously when I got accepted for the role, I was told that my performance was still being monitored for the next few weeks, and that if a better candidate came along, they might be favoured over me. The way I see it, I probably had a 75% shot of keeping the role to a 25% shot of missing the role. Weighing the pros and cons of the latter, it was clear to me that I had to make a decision that was best for myself based on one of the bigger goal that I had set for myself this year – travel. Even though I secretly hope that the cafe would keep the role for me until I get back, I understand that it would be tough for them to operate at the same level with one less person.

As difficult as the decision was, I decided to leave the job I worked so hard for to start another adventure.

It also reminded me of another time when letting go was important. A few months back when I first started job hunting, I was excited when I was called into a group interview at the airport for multiple positions as a customer service representative. I was quite interested in working at the airport, probably because it would constantly remind me of travelling.

One of the problem I encountered immediately was that there isn’t a consistently cheap, reliable, and fast way for me to reach there solely by relying on public transportation. I remember getting to the interview took over an hour. It first stated with a 45 min presentation on the job description, expectations, and prerequisites, then moving into one-on-one five minute interviews.

I walked out while waiting to be interviewed among one of about 20 candidates. Why? I felt like it was almost pointless to waste more time, and also as a respect of the interviewer’s time, if I already knew I wasn’t going to be happy with some details of the job. Even though I had already spent half an hour on the pre-screening online, 2 hours getting to and from the airport, and an hour more on the presentation, I still felt no regrets with my decision in the end.

Getting back to the cafe job itself – I would not say that I have “mastered” everything there is to learn in a cafe all-rounder role. In fact, I can probably recognize my own shortcomings and mistakes faster than anyone else can point it out. After two months on the job, I’m still sometimes guilty of committing the same mistakes multiple times. However, having recently seen a few new candidate being trained from day one makes me realize how far I have come being the “cafe newbie” that I was.

Perhaps one of the most valuable things I am taking away is the my newly acquired taste palette and the knowledge in coffee I have gained. It has made me appreciate coffee a lot more.

Regardless or not there is still a position available for me when I’m back a month later, or what I would end up doing, I’m still so grateful to have had this experience under my belt, and to have met some great people along the way. Sometimes in life, you have to let go of a smaller goal to achieve your bigger goals and dreams.

This post is dedicated to all the customers who has brightened my day for the past few months. From the “strong skim flat-whites” to the “3/4 long black with 1/4 hot skim” and countless others.

Can’t wait for the landscapes and views from the other side of the Tasman!

8 Comments

  1. W

    That’s so sweet! Good customers can totally make your day, I can relate :) have fun in NZ!!

    • Sam

      Yeah, they can totally make or break your day! Thankfully we had a lot of regulars and were totally nice!

      Thanks!

  2. David Wang

    Mate, you’re an inspiration. Love your posts.

    • Sam

      Thanks man! We should catch up when I get back!

  3. Alby

    Thanks for the reminder… its easy to lose sight of one’s goal without a guide…

    • Sam

      Your best guide would be to set that goal and a deadline, and write it down!

  4. Evy

    I like the flat-white from Dose at granville and broadway. but what’s 3/4 ling black and 1/3 hot skim? An Australian coffee order? Can I try to order it in Vancouver?

  5. Teresa

    Love your posts SAM! maybe you should be a pro-writer~

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