Year-Old Coffee

5 09 2013

Every morning I make two pots of coffee. The first one, I brew at 7:00am. It’s what motivates me out of my bed and into an addictive routine Monday through Friday. The second pot I brew in the office at 9:00am. It’s a shared pot for people I have grown to understand and respect, despite moments of paralyzing frustration.

One year ago, today, I started this job. In the beginning I did not make coffee. A year ago I was too scared I would make it wrong, use someone’s special roasted beans and start some kind of vendetta against me. And now? I don’t ask anyone if I can brew and I use whatever creamer I want.

It seems out of respect for time—and my ironic sense of humor—that at least noting the occasion in this ubiquitous cyber space is both emotional stabling and spiritually necessary. Because if there’s anything to be said about dreams or goals, prophecy or destiny it’s this: Whatever you think is going to happen will happen. And not ever the way you think it will, but nevertheless. One day you will wake up and be exactly where you thought you would be—if only you try. Or in my case, write it down.

Many people have asked me how I got the position I have at a magazine. I’ve stumbled over the answer a hundred times because some insane part of brain believes that the conversation should sound like this:

“How did you get your job, Whitney?” asks anonymous friend.

“Well, I graduated from Berkley with a degree in journalism and I was writer for the newspaper briefly while I saved children from burning buildings. Then, I applied to be the editor of the magazine and after no trouble at all I was hired,” I reply.

But the truth is, I was in the right place at the right time. And the truth in that truth is I lied on my resume. I said I had experience I didn’t have, inflated my reputation and glorified every bit of minute, inconsequential b***s*** I did between age 7 and 25. A year ago, I wrote about my first day at work:

This could very well be one of those stories where a downtrodden girl finally gets a break to do something really cool: fashion shoots with real models and coordinating an entire look from start to finish. Who am I to pick hair and makeup looks for models in a fashion magazine? Our character struggles to keep her phony identity a secret while she gets help from a friendly office-mate who shares her love of American muscle cars; keeping her secret safe as she rises to the top only to tell her boss three years later: “Yeah, I had no idea what I was doing when you hired me.” But by then she is too fabulous to get fired and she lives happily ever after.

Or, in a separate but entirely possible parallel universe, she gets fired and finds a new job.

The point I want to make here is that I was scared—I was terrified that I didn’t know anything about my new job or how to do it very well. I was hired to be a graphic designer and am now the editor of the entire magazine. When I had less to give in Photoshop I didn’t curl up in a ball and cry about it. I found other ways to add value to what I was doing, made sure that if I didn’t know how to do something I asked despite the pain each time my pride was stabbed, again and again, until pride was irrelevant because I had a job to do and that was more important. I stayed late, worked hard and above all, I made coffee.

I’ve watched the company grow this year, watched my team get bigger and our voices get louder in the 8th largest city in the United States. Working in media is an incredibly competitive and relentless task and I’m damn proud to be here standing.

And tomorrow when I go to work, I’m going to make the people in my office coffee because it reminds me from time to time that every story has a beginning, though every beginning isn’t as glamorous as we would like.

A few weeks ago, my boss walked into my office.

“Man, you’re really not a very good graphic designer are you?” he asked.

“I was wondering when you were going to catch on.”










One response

5 09 2013

Excellent! But….4:47a.m.?…wow…. Must have gotten coffee before 7….

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