Strong Coffee

“Eavesdropping, sir? I don’t follow you, begging your pardon. There ain’t no eaves at Bag End, and that’s a fact.”

Every Starbucks is different. Some have nice booths. Some have long wooden tables and leather chairs with strange metal ottomans. Some have little nooks. Some only have two cramped tables. No matter the offering, I know where to go. I prefer to sit near the door, next to a window (as long as there isn’t sun pouring in onto my laptop), my back against a wall, the counter and the door in view. This isn’t because I want a quick exit or am naturally suspicious. It just gives me the best angle to people watch.

I do most of my writing in public. As an extrovert, this is the best way to ensure that I can write every day without turning into a zombie. It makes writing sustainable. It also gives me good material. Sometimes.

Recently, it’s just been making me mad.

You can tell a lot about a culture by what goes on in the local Starbucks. The company’s weaseled its way into being essential by virtue of its “third place” philosophy (to be that safe place that is neither home nor work) and has basically become America’s version of the local pub (with less alcohol and singing, of course). The last Starbucks I frequented had a crowd of nursing students that would cycle through daily. The faces would change, but not the existence of a nursing student. It also had a frequent occurrence of customers who had never been into a Starbucks before and were baffled by what to order. And lest I forget, the two retired couples who would come every afternoon and talk about all their friends who had died/were sick/were making terrible decisions or about the way things used to be (which was better than now, of course).

The Starbucks I frequent now has three types of people. First, the yuppies who come to complain about their jobs. They come in groups of 2-4 and rant about how terrible their bosses are, how much they hate their coworkers, how things would be better if they had their way. Second, the old friends who get together seemingly to have a good chat and end up selling each other something. Either one person’s trying to get the other to apply for a job or buy some product. My least favorite was the 60 year old women having a genuine conversation about caring for people that was really an excuse for one to sell essential oils to the other. Third, the upper middle classies who brag to each other about how much money they’ve spent/their privileged antics. Really? It doesn’t bother you that your teenage daughters all have fake IDs and go clubbing together when you’re all on vacation in some exotic local?

I have way more in common with the people behind the counter than in front of it.

I guess that’s okay. I’m a 20-something who spent the last two years working in food service. But it’s also hard. Caleb and I are planning on being in this apartment for at least two years. This is our home. We want to belong here. But I don’t want to live the high-spending, superficial, manipulative lifestyle we keep running into. In my heart, I’ll always be a starving artist, passionately pursuing an authentic life of creation and craft.

I guess that’s a little too strong for the vanilla bean frappuccino crowd.

2 thoughts on “Strong Coffee

  1. I agree. I don’t like the rich jerks (excuse my language) that complain about their jobs. I don’t like when people mistreat the hard workers behind the counter making their drinks. These people have bills to pay and a life to live like everyone else. Take time to appreciate your people that serve you.

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