The morning drive was peaceful; there really is nothing more calming than venturing towards such a destination, flying solo, listening to the newest mixed CD I had made for this specific trip. [Seriously. A new CD was burned this morning while I was beautifying myself – none of my other CDs seemed to have the right compilation of songs for a voyage such as this one.] While the next admission might be a potential warning to cautious drivers I meet on the open road, please, don’t be alarmed, but I am often distracted while I drive. Being alone in a car is such an escape from the life that surrounds me; driving allows me to breathe. Just breathe. And to think…to collect, organize, prioritize, and reflect on the current events in my life. To debate the pros and cons of life’s happenings, to finally reach a conclusion on that one issue that I just couldn’t elect which side of the line to be on. Many decisions have been made while I’ve driven my precious Cavalier. It will be a sad day when she dies. However, that day is (or better be) far off into the future. For now, I’m just glad that she and I made it safely to The City – to our lovely brick building with the welcoming bright green letters and the crowned sirena. At last…Starbucks.
Now, I’m not trying to boast, but I have been to my fair share of Starbucks cafés. As traveling is a serious hobby of mine, I have been to this charming establishment in six different countries. And would you believe that they really are all the same? How I do love sighting my green letters while walking down the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, crossing the Puerta de Jerez in Sevilla, or just stumbling upon one in the west end of London. When I am lucky enough to come across one of these fortresses of familiarity, it’s like a little piece of home has presented itself in the middle of a foreign land. The magic, though, doesn’t truly begin until I step through the doors.
I used to frequent this specific Starbucks when I lived in The City, but as life happens, I no longer have the luxury of seeing familiar faces and the magic they inspire, a.k.a. Rueben. Yes, Rueben was my personal knight in shining armor. But instead of the metal body suit, he wore the green apron; instead of a white horse, he had the white cup; and instead of the shield marked with the royal crest, he had the cardboard sleeve that displayed the topless sirena (which also prevents the hand from burning when reaching for happiness in liquid form). In all practicality, he could be the present-day knight for our generation. Sadly, though, while I had a weakness for my brave knight, I don’t think Rueben could have picked me out of the eight o’clock morning rush of caffeine addicts. After all, he wasn’t just my knight; no, he had the whole City to serve. It’s not fair that I hold him accountable for recognizing every fair maiden dependent upon his service.
Which brings me to my next realization: Starbucks wonderfully transcends all generational, cultural, political and societal boundaries that we, as a people, have created. As a former member of the eight o’clock rush, I can bear witness to the array of people that walked through the doors. The strong, confident woman dressed in a sharp suit and the businessman, briefcase in hand. The soccer mom who must have just unloaded the minivan. The fashionista with nails perfectly manicured, whose high heels click on the tile and whose purse overtakes the counter. There will undoubtedly always be someone wearing a Bluetooth headset who, at first glance, seems to be talking to himself (yes, himself, as I rarely see a woman do this, at least in Iowa). Let’s not forget about the twenty-something with dyed jet-black hair and piercings in every possible spot, or the person still wearing pajamas with mismatching socks. Then there’s just the average Joe (or Jane): jeans, shirt, shoes, jacket. While I know none of these individuals would appreciate my stereotyping, something is still said for the fact that all of these people chose Starbucks for their morning glory, whatever the reason may be. As far as which stereotype, if any, I belong to when I walk into Starbucks...well, that is someone else's job to decide, isn't it?
Moving along to the options. I think Tom Hanks' character, Joe Fox, said it best in You’ve Got Mail:
“The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee.”While everyone has developed their own method of selecting which beverage to enjoy, my six include the following: 1) Size. Tall. 2) Hot or cold. Hot. 3) The strong stuff or decaf. Always the strong stuff. 4) Type of beverage. Mocha. 5) Added flavors. White chocolate. 6) Whipped cream. No. And it’s just that simple: Tall white mocha, no whipped cream.
The culmination of my anticipation and eagerness of the morning met in the twelve ounce cup that a barista (not Rueben) handed me. Pure, warm, white-chocolately goodness, mixed together for the sole purpose of pleasing the palate. Mission accomplished.
Thank you, Starbucks, for bringing this little piece of happiness to my corner of the world.