I remember studying something in a history or social studies class (do they even teach that subject anymore?) back in the day about couples begetting many multiples of children so that their immediate family would have a plentiful source of laborers for its farms, or whatever industry the parents were involved in. It’s sort of like the old adage about raising your own baseball team. Keep it all in the family, right? Not that Jon & Kate’s eight or the Duggar’s dozens will ever be employed to operate the family farm, but I can see how this practice once was a valid reason to give birth to your very own demographic group.
With that in mind, and on a much smaller scale, I’ll admit that my wife and I have shamelessly benefited from the labor of our kids, too. Most notably, two of our offspring have worked as Starbucks baristas first during their high school careers and then through their college years. Combined, I’m fairly certain we’ve had a kid working at Starbucks for the past 10 or possibly even 12 years. Not that brewing spendy coffee drinks pays all that well. It doesn’t. The shared weekly tips help add to the baristas’ overall income, but for a student who can work only 20 to 30 hours any given week at most, their paychecks are quickly spent for gas, textbooks and the occasional night out with friends.
So how have my kids’ Starbucks jobs contributed to our family’s quality of life? In addition to taking advantage of generous employee discounts on espresso machines, mugs, thermal cups and other coffee-related goodies – the primary perquisite of having a son or daughter work at Starbucks has been the free weekly pound of coffee employees are able to “mark out” and bring home. Oh heavenly caffeinated nectar of life! For more than a decade, our home has been regularly stocked with freshly roasted one-pound bags of coffee beans of all blends and varieties. Yes, even the coveted seasonal Thanksgiving and Christmas blends have been stacked in our pantry like gold bars in Ft. Knox for the past many years.
Alas, all good things must come to an end and there’s no such thing as a coffee pot that doesn’t eventually run dry. (Cue the violins.) As of this month – sadly, tragically, devastatingly – we no longer have even one immediate family member who is employed at Starbucks. There is no joy in java-ville.
When our current cache of caffeine is quite literally liquidated (most likely in the late spring at the rate I down the stuff), we will be forced to purchase coffee like the rest of the civilized world around us. You think Congress has a looming budget crises? Ha. There are dark, dark times ahead, people.
On the other hand, coffee isn’t the only perq we’ve enjoyed due to our kids’ various part-time jobs over the years. Our oldest son was once employed in high school at a nationally known ice cream chain and would supply yours truly with massive tubs of hard-to-find, special-order root beer float ice cream, procured with his impressive employee discount, or course. Those were the days, indeed.
That son is now pastoring a small start-up church in Hawaii and the perqs he can provide are of the spiritual nature, but no less appreciated. Our daughter (the family’s first barista) is now a charge nurse at a major hospital in the San Fernando Valley and her days of no-foam lattes and free beans are long gone.
Even so, I may yet be able to take advantage of perqs from our kids’ careers. After all – once our stash of free coffee runs out and I face the stark reality of how much a pound of coffee actually costs – my daughter can use her CPR skills to bring me back from the brink. And if she fails, my pastor son can always send us some prayers heavenward on my behalf.
I’ll see you ‘round town.