Thursday, April 28, 2011

a job and a medal all in one day

A week ago today, I had a meeting in a local coffee shop/café. A friend of mine was in a meeting in another room with the owner of the shop. They talked about a position she was trying to fill and my friend told her about me and my search for an interesting and challenging post-retirement job. This led to a long phone conversation on Saturday and an interview yesterday.

I had an amazing two hour conversation with the owner of the coffee shop/cafe. She wants me to meet the staff before it becomes official but I am sure this job is mine. It is really too good to be true.

First of all, I like her very much on a personal level. She asked what I like to read and we were off on a twenty minute conversation about books. (We both fill our books with post-it flags and underlining.) She asked about cooking and preserving and we talked about that for twenty minutes. We talked about the power of food for people and how important the dining experience is for good food to be enjoyed.

She says she wants a collaborative relationship with me and says no idea is too crazy to be heard and considered. She wants me to be involved in many levels of the operation: marketing, foraging (finding new sources of locally grown food, cheese, art…), and event planning. During busy times over the noon hour, I may be asked to help with delivering food to customers. She asked what I thought about working with young people...I said, after stodgy old school teachers??? Hahahaa! I know they all aren’t that way…but a lot of them have crossed my path in the last few years.

I used to teach a class called Kitchen Writing, linking books about food and cooking with writing stories about our past kitchens. I brought the binder full of materials and writing. The cover of it, ironically, has a quote about the evocative power of food. It fits perfectly with her philosophy.

I have a binder for each holiday or special event that we celebrate. I brought the binder for the vernal equinox and St. Patrick’s Day. It’s full of recipes and lists and invitations and pictures of costumes and table settings.

It was so much fun to prepare for this interview. Gathering these things helped me think about my knowledge, my experience, and my skills. There were several times as she talked about the business of training staff and teaching hospitality that I was able to make connections to teaching writing.

I told her in the end, I can hardly get my head around how different this experience has been. I felt appreciated, valued for what I know and can do, and as if I might have something to contribute to an organization. I felt like I was being welcomed into a family.

I told her about my surgery because I think it’s an important part of my transformation and therefore an important part of who I am today. It’s an important part of how I feel about food and nutrition...and many things.

It feels like so many things I love and know are coming together in this job: nutrition, locally grown food, entertainment, costumes, event planning, writing, and coffee. It feels like a dream.

 Update: I wrote the previous late yesterday afternoon. As I finished, Tamika called to officially offer me the job. I, of course, officially accepted. She said she spent the evening after our interview and yesterday morning reading through my binders and through my blog to get a sense of who I am. She ran into things frequently that convinced her I would be perfect for the job. I am so excited to be welcomed like this into such a thriving and interesting operation.

Regis picked up my medal for being first in my age group in the Special Olympics Run for Acceptance. It is an impressive medal and I wore it when we went out for dinner to celebrate my new job. It looks a little bit like it was a Special Olympics event, and I usually tell people I was the only woman in my age group so I was first AND last, but that is not necessary information.

It was a grand day!

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