That was a year ago. I passed that calculus class, and I still decided to become a professional barista. I moved to LA about a month after that class ended. I think it was always Plan A, and Plan B is everything outside of coffee.
This is part of an unsent letter to my friend in New York who just started his Master’s program at Columbia and who gives zero shits about the coffee industry. So, it’s about coffee, naturally. I think that’s all I ever think about anymore. These are my opinions. I don’t talk about it too much with my barista friends, but I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way about what we do sometimes.
You know in those reality shows about professional chefs and how crazy shit gets? Where they’re trying to make ten billion dishes and they’re all yelling at each other and someone ends up crying? Imagine working in a kitchen like that, except you’re supposed to be a server at the same time, and everyone thinks they’re at a McDonalds, not a gourmet restaurant. You also have to wake up at 4 or 5AM most mornings to do it. And then no one respects your job as a profession even though you’re serving them some of the highest quality coffees and teas available in the world and expertly preparing it. It’s crazy difficult to keep your head up in the coffee industry, but so many of us do it because we give a shit about this, and I guess we somehow hold onto the hope that more and more people will start to give a shit if you keep being nice to them and serving them delicious coffee.
What are we going to do if it turn out that we have pheromones? What on earth would we be doing with such things? With the richness of speech, and all our new devices for communication, why would we want to release odors into the air to convey information about anything? We can send notes, telephone, whisper cryptic invitations, announce the giving of parties, even bounce words off the moon and make them carom around the planets. Why a gas, or droplets of moisture made to be deposited on fence posts?
Lewis Thomas, from A Fear of Pheromones.
I need to get this printed well and framed. I’ve loved it for years because it’s a beautiful passage, but I’m increasingly convinced that it’s relevant — probably significant — to a lot of what I do.
One of my favorite collections of thoughts. Lewis Thomas, The Lives of a Cell