Two creamers, four sugars, 6 ounces of acidic coffee in a cheap styrofoam cup.
I learned to like coffee at Tuscarora Inn & Conference Center when I was 16. I worked there as a waitress during the summer of 1996 and we served hot coffee at every dinner. It was cool amongst the waitstaff at Tuscarora to drink coffee. I know that it’s common for teens to drink coffee nowadays (thanks, Starbucks), but it seemed like such an adult thing to do back in the 90s. And there I was, away from home for the entire summer, drinking coffee.
The first line of this entry was my recipe for drinkable coffee in 1996. If I were to make coffee that way today, I’d be more inclined to call it “coffee candy.”
When I was a junior in college, I worked at the local coffee house in Houghton. It was called Sweet Attitudes. The tacky name alone could have been the reason that the business failed, but that’s besides the point. For the years that it existed, Sweet Attitudes was the place to be and work if you were a student. I was paid $5.15 per hour. It was the going rate. I didn’t even question it. I think was paid under $4/hr the first summer of ’96 at Tuscarora. (Current day teens must make more money because Starbucks lattes are are least $4 a piece.)
One of my favorite memories of my father is the look of absolute incredulity he had when I told him that I had saved $50 saved from the entire summer of work. The week before going home I bought a volleyball which I thought was an entirely valid, if not important, purchase. The volleyball was 1/3 of my entire savings from the summer. Pre volleyball, I had $75. My dad probably would’ve been disappointed with that income too, but at least I had a volleyball to play with!
I met his disbelieving look with a defensive one. I hadn’t been told to save money over the summer. I’m afraid he thought that I was more conscientious than I really was.
So maybe I wasted money on a volleyball. That was kid’s stuff. But I also learned to like coffee that summer, which was very adult.