Exhaling

After a few weeks of incredible movement, I took a great pause for myself to rest and reflect today. It’s been a marvelous time, filled as much by old faces as familiar ones, all of which have signaled towards a great future for us in the days and years ahead.

But it’s been a tumultuous path to get here. Great work takes great sacrifice, and as the future looms, so does the prospect of…more work.

It’s amazing, to realize that work is what we’re somehow made for. Whether it’s to work to serve another cup of coffee, or to work to make the next great technology, or to work to simply get out of bed, the world has been built by the act of people reaching from within to make great things outside of them.

I am as grateful as I am humbled by the process; we are bringing up the world around us as much as we’re bringing up the world after us, just like those before us.

With this in mind, perhaps it isn’t just a trivial thing to greet the world again tonight, or to bid it a good night.

Instead, maybe bidding one more “good night” is one of the greatest achievements of a life that’s still here, the greatness of which is rivaled only by the wonderful act of getting up to bid another “good morning”.

I don’t know, but I guess there’s only one way to find out.

Good night L.A.,

and

Good morning!

J.T.

Dear Los Angeles,

It’s actually been quite some time since I wrote a ‘letter’ to The City. But at last, I’m back with so much excitement for what I see ahead. But before what’s ahead, I want to take a moment with The People of J.T. to think about what’s been.

As I said to a friend the other day, somehow things are always interesting for yours truly, with the last few months of work proving to be no exception.

It’s been nearly six months since I linked up with Starbucks, and while many terms come to mind for the experience, even to say it’s been fascinating would be an understatement. I think back to the first week on the job, when the act of standing for four to eight hours of the day flat out exhausted me by the time a shift came to an end. I’d go home and just doze off during those early days, and when I’d get the day off of work, I’d mostly just spend it at home, resting my body, and enjoying the peace and quiet of the neighborhood as opposed to the noise and commotion on the job.

At the same time, while at home, I’d take a glance at J.T., and mostly pass up the idea of another entry, telling myself that I’d get to it when just the right idea came along. A part of me was content with this, as I figured that rather than waiting for the right idea to come along, I’d sort of just let it happen more organically instead.

Naturally, however, another part of me couldn’t help but get a little anxious about the infrequency of an update, as it felt like I was neglecting the site. Beyond this, there were other things going on: needs around the home, schools to visit with The Plus Me Project, or weekly classes to attend with the InsideOUT Writers program.

And with work always around the corner, J.T. sort of had to edge out at the seams in the background. Following this period, as I got more in touch with the rhythm of work, J.T. found itself interested in the dynamics of the work environment, i.e., the people. I suppose this was inevitable; the people at work were so much like me at the same time that we were all so distinct from each other.

At Starbucks there was a team, and the team was made up of different personalities, skill sets, and habits, all of which came together to form the machine that powered the work. This machine fascinated me, as it allowed me to observe the way my teammates dealt with the challenges of the job, and as it gave me the opportunity to hear them describe their challenges outside of the job.

Through it all, I searched and found common ground with my teammates, and at the end of the day, I couldn’t help but be humbled at just how much our time together would reveal to me not just about them, but about myself.

Naturally, I didn’t spend all my time at work sharing with the team just how much I’d go home and think about our interactions, or how I’d analyze the shifts we’d get through together, but it was inevitable that I’d find a way to sneak in a blurb or two about how I viewed us as a unit, just as it was inevitable that at first the team wouldn’t exactly get my views, smiling politely but also estranged from me.

Eventually, the team would come around to appreciate the musings of yours truly as what one might call ‘Jimbo’s times’, and, of course, J.T. came around to truly appreciate the team.

Nonetheless, even with an understanding between me and the folks at work, as time passed the job wasn’t all smiles and laughter. Apart from the customers, at times differences between the team also led to moments of distance, disagreement, and even dysfunction. This would mean more than just a shortcoming at the store, but it’d mean that rifts would take form, and that we’d either have to resolve our differences or make a shift harder than it needed to be.

More often than not, we chose to be a team, which spoke to just how good of a unit we actually were, but even when there were issues that went unresolved, they didn’t really stem from any deep-seeded differences between each other, but rather from how one of us felt at a particular moment on a particular day of a particular week in contrast to someone else’s feelings.

At once this revealed the way any given moment of a day is made from the singularity between a myriad of moments before and around the one in question, at the same time just how any moment really does wield the power to shape our days, and by extension, the lives we lead.

As this came into perspective for me at the job, I realized how the time I spent away from my blog was a tradeoff for a time in which I could only embody J.T. as a lifestyle: one of humility, resilience, and hope, and one also constantly drawing inspiration from the work-day.

This would go on to show me how more than sunshine or car culture, and more than ‘chucks’ or ‘American Apparel’, more than anything, really, L.A. is so much work, or a place filled with hard workers, including yours truly.

As days on the job in this way became weeks, and as the weeks became months, somehow going to work became less about making money, and more about about honoring a dedication; a dedication to the team, to my mother, and to myself.

It was strange: I learned a lot about just how much I can handle at the same time that I learned about my limitations in a way I wasn’t aware of before the job, which then led me to take a step back from it all.

When I did this, I realized how grateful I was for work, and for the regularity it provided, and for the people it exposed me to, all of which showed me that not only could I stand for four or eight hours, but that I could meet my friends afterwards, hang into the morning, and still walk into work to get through another day.

This showed me my resilience, but more importantly, it brought to light how all the time and energy I’ve spent working for Starbucks over the last six months is exactly the kind of time and energy that I want to put back into JIMBO TIMES: The L.A. Storyteller.

At this critical time, when the whole world is still ahead of me, I know I can do anything I truly want to, but that what I still want is to take the city of L.A. on a ride like it’s never seen before!

I also know that I’m already on my way, and that the journey is promising, but that there’s still a great deal of ground to cover. As with any job or investment, I’m not afraid of the time it will take nor the challenges that I’ll find, but I’m eager to get started on delivering something truly unique to this place known as Los Angeles.

I’m also thankful for every ally that has helped me to reach this point — including the people at Starbucks as well as those outside of it — and for every ally still coming up!

At the end of the day, I’m confident that we’re all still coming up; and as I move forward with just what this will mean for The L.A. Storyteller. I also trust that the people of J.T. will hold me accountable.

With honor, respect, and so much excitement for what’s ahead,

J.T. – The L.A. Storyteller

Why Work in Los Angeles? For the Stories

Damn my co-workers. I’ve grown to care about them now, and quite fervently, at that!

It just happened: over the last couple of months they’ve turned into more than colleagues, but something of another wacky little family I’ve had the fortune of stumbling into.

Now, long after every drink and customer is served, and even after the lights go out, I catch myself wondering about my co-workers while we’re apart, and reflecting on all of the conversations we’ve had:

In the span of just a few months, through every word we’ve exchanged we’ve built whole worlds around each other. I’ve learned greatly from these worlds, and I can only keep learning from them. It is as exciting as it is strange.

On the one hand, it’s exciting because every day at work both my coworkers and I are getting closer to the next part of our lives, or to the next version of ourselves that we need to be. To do this alongside each other is to share a process of culmination. As we each grow by ourselves, we also influence one another to grow, creating a kaleidoscope, or an ever-expanding process of new perspectives.

In this way, I can see why people remain at certain jobs for years and even decades of their lives. It’s all a matter of taking one day at a time, filtering through the minutiae, and showing up again the next day because each time is so different from the last.

On the other hand, it’s scary to think of how my job has grown on me.

It happened more quickly than I could recognize it. One day I just got up from bed and found myself not only ready to go to work, but committed to it. At a time in my life when commitments are rather daunting ideas, the commitment to work is something different.

In the moment I realized I didn’t just have to go to work–but that I wanted to–I stopped seeing my coworkers as just some other group of people, but as my team: a cast of individuals who–like myself–were showing up to the task in order to keep the fight going.

At the same time, the meaning of work changed: apart from being a responsibility, work became a journey to create sustenance in the face of an uncertain future. It became about building a life, and building a life became a grand privilege to enjoy.

Alongside my coworkers — these People of Los Angeles — the privilege of building became something fun. It became mysterious to think about how we’d get through another shift together, and fascinating to think about how we always found a new way to joke and laugh together.

It’s even more fascinating to think about how I’m still there. As a result, every day with my coworkers isn’t just new, it’s a ride, a puzzle, and a story. Sure, the ride isn’t always a smooth one, but one thing’s for sure: it’s always an adventure.

In this vein, yours truly has been adventuring, and rest assured: the best is yet to come. As the holiday season brings us together again, there’ll be a world’s worth of more to share and enjoy.

With Honor and Respect,

J.T.