Lee-ding a bright future

Steady sets of hands pass cups, drinks and ingredients to each other. A customer looks down at their watch: time is of essence. The pressure is on, but the productive atmosphere and reassuring smiles from his co-workers remind senior Andy Lee that his job will enhance his skills, interactions and overall open new experiences.

Lee began his first part-time job at a local Diamond Bar Ding Tea in September 2019. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and extensive six hour shift forced him to transfer and undergo training at Ten Ren’s Tea Time on Lemon Avenue, Walnut.

“It’s kind of difficult to get everything right on the first try,” Lee said. “I’m definitely going to make a mistake, learn from it and work harder not to make it again.”

Along with his goal of improvement, Lee has the opportunity to learn the lesson of working with inconsiderate or confusing customers. He enjoys the real world experience of interacting with other people.

“I don’t really have that big of a problem talking to people,” he said. “As always, stay calm and polite to customers. Make sure to stay professional because in the end, if you didn’t do anything wrong then they can’t do anything to you.”

Lee exerts his time and effort into work, arriving back home at 9:45 p.m. However, he manages both his school and work life through the motto “work harder and smarter.”

“A lot of times, assignments are due at 10 p.m.,” Lee said. “I have to do the assignment in a couple minutes, but if I have most of it done before, it’s simple that way. Most of the time you usually have time afterwards, or time before to do your homework, as long as you’re not procrastinating.”

Lee is inspired by his parents’ role in his life and their contributions to the family, allowing him to commit to his job. He hopes to alleviate their stress by taking responsibility for his own income.

“I don’t want to constantly ask my parents for money,” Lee said. “My dad’s working two jobs right now and I feel really bad whenever I do ask. It’s like I’m taking stuff away. I know they work hard for the family.”

The relationship he has with other employees is also a large factor in pushing him to work hard. Lee views teamwork as an important aspect of his job, allowing him to form special bonds with his co-workers.

“When you work with the same two people, you definitely get a feel of how you work,” Lee said. “I [remember] there’s a really nice memory where we deep cleaned the store. We had to move everything and bleach the floor. It was really nice to see everyone there and just working together. I always like working with my co-workers, they’re really fun people.”

Although Lee does not have plans to continue the job in the future, he strives to cherish his memories and relationships at work and utilize them to better himself. Lee views his work experience as a milestone to look back on and an understanding of what he can expect in the future.

“It’s kind of sad, how I just remember when I was a kid yesterday, but now I have a part-time job [and] about to graduate high school,” Lee said. “But this job is like my stepping stone to becoming, not only a college student, but more of a bigger person [and an] adult knowing the hardship of what servers went through.”

By Remy Wong, Staff writer
Photo courtesy of Andy Lee