Global cafe, the end.
Today is the last day of my Global cafe. For serious. And just now, burning the last of the chocolate chip cookies while grappling an enormous ice floe from the defrosting freezer makes it all seem suddenly, achingly, real. Maybe I’ll go into the idiocy of why a bit later on, but as I sit here for one last time under this enormous range hood that sounds like an airplane taking off, the details don’t seem to matter too much.
The experience of opening a cafe has taught me a cubic megatonne about cooking, coffee, South Korea, bread, customer service, pretending that I speak Korean, Jason Derulo, Korean ATM’s (they can do EVERYTHING!), racism, how to drink double espressos, sexism, robots (and robot dancing), efficiency, management, retardation, finance and cleaning. Actually, it has taught me nothing about cleaning, I just have to do a lot of it. A. Lot. Cleaning is something that I’m not going to miss.
I’m going to miss:
- customers. Arguing over who gets the last of the brownies (I was forever running out). Forcing their friends to buy coffees for them. Guessing where I’m from. Telling me that what they ordered was delicious, especially the guy who squealed, clapped, and jumped around after tasting a chocolate brownie. Sweet customers who became friends. Regulars. People who just stopped by for a coffee and a chat.
- coffee. Making coffee, drinking coffee, not paying for coffee. Yep, I’m going to miss that.
- not teaching English. Not that I don’t enjoy teaching English, it’s just that almost every foreigner in this country comes from one of two groups: military or English teachers. So much so that it is just assumed by new friends that I taught English. I kind of liked being different.
- fulfillment. getting to see people enjoying what I’ve cooked.
I won’t miss:
- customers. Tapping your credit card on the counter is not a polite way to get my attention. Customers who think they know how to use the payment machine better than me, back off buddy, you don’t. While saying ‘WAIT’ may be fine in Korean, it is rude in English and I hate it. Getting my attention and then umming and ahhing over what to order for five minutes, can’t you see I’m busy?!?
- bureaucracy. I don’t want to moan too much, so I’ll just give one example. Global cafe was a cash free zone. Cash was forbidden. This was the only place on campus that didn’t accept real cash money, which I hated, because I adore cash. The reason given: ‘cash is an administrative nightmare’. The real reason: ‘You are a foreigner AND a woman, so we don’t trust you’. Brilliant! Thanks for the vote of confidence guys, I really appreciate it!
- coffee. I still don’t understand why people use sugar syrup instead of sugar, weak americanos, drinking coffee through straws.
- long hours. With no staff. It is incredibly difficult to do something new and interesting, or to improve what you’re already doing when you’re working 12 hours days.
Why am I moving on? Many reasons, but mostly, a desire to have a life outside these two small rooms. Too much work for too little pay and the problem of more customers meaning more work. And more work, and more. All the while earning more and more money for the university. The success of Global cafe has caused it’s demise. Plus I don’t want to live in the countryside anymore. And did I mention cleaning yet? Yeah, too much cleaning.
So, today I am sad. I’m sad because I have to clean, a lot. But also because what I’ve been doing for the last 9 months, which has been so fulfilling and frustrating and such all consuming hard work, is coming to an end today. It is exciting though. I’m going to move to Seoul (lights! big city! no rice paddies!!), teach English, work less, eat more interesting food, explore and do all the things that the cafe stopped me from doing like sleeping, exercise and learning Korean.
As I make my last iced americanos and toasted ham and cheese sandwiches today, I am proud that Global Cafe was a success (and it certainly was successful) and happy to have had this amazing opportunity but so glad to be moving on.
So, goodbye Global cafe, it’s been real.