At Work : Scott Hershowitz
Scott Hershowitz, 40, got up today at 4 am so the Mocha Mott's coffee shop on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs could open by 6 am. He is the morning manager.
He hit the ground running, and before his daily shift ends at 1 pm, he will have served more than 100 customers his kinetic blend of caffeine, calories, and unremitting good humor. He's done this on roughly 3,000 weekdays over the last 11 years.
Mr. Hershowitz regards his work as a service mission, not a job. He believes he has a responsibility to help his customers start their days on a positive note. In 11 years, he says, he has slept through his alarm "only once or twice."
Since arriving here 28 years ago with a degree in German and physics from the University of Rhode Island, the West Springfield native has become a fixture in Circuit Avenue retailing. He has also established himself as a farrier, an EMT, and a drummer and Built on Stilts cast member. Julie Verost, his wife of more than two years, is an Island carpenter.
Q: What do you do?
A: Generally I brew 15 pots of coffee, slice and wrap coffee cake, lay out bagels, muffins and cookies, arrange the newspapers. Sometimes I prepare vegetables for lunch sandwiches. I like to get here extra early. I want everything to be ready when I turn the key at 6 am. It gets crazy quickly, particularly in the summer.
Q: How did you get started in this line of work?
A: I was at the former Army Barracks store down the street. I resigned one day. Former owner Mott Hinckley called me, not a minute later, and here I am. I learned to be a barista at a coffee shop off Federal Hill in Providence during college. My Italian customers knew exactly how they wanted their cappuccino. I paid attention.
Q: What's the toughest part of your job?
A: Making sandwiches, I guess. I don't mind getting up early. I love this job. Even demanding customers don't bother me much. August can be particularly tough, but I figure they aren't mad at me, don't even know me, so I let it roll off my back.
Q: What is the best part?
A: I see the community, six-year-olds to people in their 80s. I bet 70 to 80 percent of the Island come here in a given week. I like to touch people with a service, that Mott's is doing something for the community. Sounds corny, but that's how I feel. I know these people, maybe not all the names or jobs, but I can tell if someone's off a little. Ask them how they're doing, give them a kind word. Knowing them helps as part of EMT work too. We have something else to talk about, maybe ease their distress a little.
Q: What would you rather be doing when you think that you would rather be doing something else?
A: Sleeping. I love to sleep. I work very hard, and I love to sleep hard, set the alarm for three in the afternoon. Sometimes I think it would be great to split my time, nine months here and three months at a little house we have back in the woods in Bethel, Maine. I'm pretty lucky. I get all kinds of social stimulus here. I have Julie, I get to work with the natural world as a farrier, and I have creative time with drumming.
Jack Shea is a regular contributor to The Times.
At Work is a new, occasional column about neighbors and what they do to earn their livings. It doesn't matter what the job is, whether it's a big job or a small one, has a title or doesn't. We're interested in what you do every day, and what you think about it. If you think your line of work is interesting, or you have a suggestion of someone whose working life will fit At Work, please contact Nelson Sigelman, the managing editor.