Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The World Ended, For Just A Little While There

Yes, for thousands of Americans last night (it could have been millions, but that sounds too dramatic) the world came to a screeching end for a couple of hours. Now, it wasn’t the power outage in Florida. It was the 3-hour closure of every Starbucks. Yep, beginning at 5:30 local time, which would be 5:30 your time and your time and their time, Starbucks closed to train employees on how to make a better cup of espresso.

While I never did take a business course, I have worked for a few corporations and even owned my own business for five years, so I feel safe going out on a limb here and making the statement that follows. Is it really that prudent to close all of your 7100 stores for 3 hours? I mean aren’t their employees taught how to make espresso when hired? Isn’t that their THING? You’d think they already know how to do that, right? OK, you’re right, those were more questions than a statements, but seriously, it makes me think of the same thing when I see a gas station closed. 3 hours with no profits? Ouch.

And then there are all of the people that this decision impacted. Where in the world to get my coffee fix? I mean other than oh, let’s see Dunkin Donuts (even if Rachael Ray hawks for them), 7-11, It’s A Grind, AM-PM, many book stores serving Seattle’s Best, The Coffee Bean, any restaurant and I don’t know, maybe MY OWN COFFEE MAKER? Granted it has become pretty easy to get used to running down to any corner or grocery store to pick up a cup of Starbucks, but I discovered that I actually own a coffee maker and it turns out that it works pretty well. Who knew? Truth be told, I usually go ANYWHERE else for coffee than Starbucks because I like to favor the underdog. It’s the same logic that makes me shop at the local gas station for groceries instead of those big chain grocery stores or why I take side streets instead of the highways that everyone else uses or why I root for the Clippers instead of the Lakers. It’s all about the underdog for me. And yes I am kidding about the grocery thing, they are seriously lacking in the fine cheeses department. But I am not kidding about the Clippers deal and that haunts me daily. Apparently, underdog is code for losing consistently by 25-30 points. But that really has nothing to do with coffee.

I wish my coworkers and I could be seen as needing to learn the fine art of doing our jobs better. We would all love to have 3 hours of ‘training,’ preferably at the local indoor go-cart track or the laser tag place across the street or maybe the bowling alley. We could be taught how to answer our phones, how to better share one networked printer, the things to say and not to say in corporate emails (trust me, I have many of the latter to share on that topic) and how to interpret 43 different reports that all contain the same data. A good cup o’espresso it ain’t, (wow that sentence played havoc with my spell checker), but we would all love to get paid for three hours of play, I mean ‘training.’

You know, you may find this hard to believe, but despite my daily serenading of Gilbert O’Sullivan’s 1970s hit ‘Alone Again, Naturally,’ our office morale is disturbingly low. Conventional wisdom would lead me to blame our jobs, but I am going to take a different approach and say it’s because of our cubicles…and then our jobs. Perhaps if we made cool cakes for a living like certain folks who frequent this blog (and you know who you are), we would be happy. Although I think management might not approve of us swapping an oven for a fax machine or fondant for paper. Wow, watching Ace of Cakes is really paying off. I thought I’d never be able to work ‘fondant’ into one of my posts…

But rest assured that Starbucks is open again and serving a better cup o’espresso than you’ve had in months. Yes, it probably hurt last night but the cold turkey withdrawals are a thing of the past. Your patience has been rewarded and your cup of Starbucks coffee should now taste better than ever, unless of course you forgo Starbucks like me and blow through a straw into your coffee to get it all frothy. Quick tip though, when your coworkers ask how you get your cup of office coffee so much frothier than theirs, don’t offer to froth it up for them. It seems certain business professionals take great issue with someone else blowing into their coffee. Gheesh, some people…

11 comments:

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Coffee ....is....good.....essential. Starbucks? Maybe not so. Enjoyed the post. Must ....go....get ........coffee......now.

Odat said...

I'm with you..I go to the underdog..
and really, who cares that Starbucks closed....
Peace

citizen of the world said...

I prefer local coffee places, but I do stop at a Starbucks now and again. But shutting down to teach them to make coffee?

CrystalChick said...

Have to admit I am a fan of FourBucks. Altho not for coffee. My poison is venti soy cocoa, no whip, no foam. But I wonder if the one I go to was actually closed... it's in a Barnes and Noble bookstore. Hmmm?

Patti said...

I must be a coffee wimp. Starbucks tastes so STRONG.

Sounds like you have more coffee chains on the left coast.
We have a Dunkin' Donuts on almost every corner, though.

chefmom said...

LOL!! I am so impressed that you mananged to use the word "Fondant" into one of your posts! When I worked in a Country Club, they made the kitchen staff take a seminar on answering the phone. I couldn't believe it. If you have the nerve to call an extremely busy kitchen for some stupid reason, (e.g. The GM calling to see if we had any freshly baked cookies) Why would you expect me to answer with anything other then "Hello?" or "What?" They taught us to say "Thank you for calling the Pastry Kitchen, this is Kelly, How may I help you?" WTF!! As for Starbucks, I'd really like to know, from someone who visits one today, Is the Espresso REALLY better?

silverneurotic said...

I suspect there was more to the closing then a "how to make espresso" seminar.

Personally, I prefer anything other than Starbucks...though, I do admit that if you want to kill time with a good book and don't mind getting uninterrupted periodically with people asking what you're reading...Starbucks is the place to go.

meleah rebeccah said...

I didnt understand why they had to close every store at the same time either. I thought that was pretty damn dumb.

Oh well at least Dunkin Donuts made a hell of a profit that day.

Go underdog.

Natalie said...

Someone mentioned their latte was tons better today. I don't drink coffee but I don't think a latte has anything to do with espresso.

kat said...

So... I live in New York where there is, no joke, a Starbucks on every corner and sometimes one Starbucks on one corner and another one facing it from the other side of the street. I'm serious - it's really like that here.

Anyway I resisted Starbucks because I, too, was rooting for the underdog. Then someone gave me a Starbucks Gift Card for my birthday last year. I never used it. Even with the free 20 bucks in coffee I resisted.

Then I was downtown and needed a coffee desperately. With no $$ in my pocket I had to whip out the gift card... and I hate to say it... but yikes am I hooked now. Damn you, Starbucks... your coffee really is a cut above the others.

When I heard they were closing for three hours I thought it was the best marketing scheme ever. They were showing the people they were willing to shut down the system to make better coffee for their customers - probably cost them about the same as a month long billboard would do. Brilliant marketing I tell you.

Damn you, Starbucks.

Carrie said...

Tee hee.

I like Starbucks; here in Canada it can be a nice change from the Tim Hortons we drink like water. Seriously; Canadians need at least 3 cups of Tim Hortons products a day to survive.

But 3 hours? Yikes...