Starbucks has turned me into one *them*

I can count on one hand the number of times in the past 10 years that I’ve stepped foot inside of a Starbucks (with a few fingers left over). Starbucks was just never for me. Starbucks was for the hip, laptop carrying, smart phone using, mocha latte drinking generation. Give me some cheap 7-11 or Wawa coffee any day of the week. All caffeine was created equal, right?

And then a few weeks ago I received a $5.00 Starbucks gift card from a client, and life as I’ve known it has been changed forever.

Here’s how it went. I walked in and nervously looked around at all of the “professional” looking people, the “hip” people. These were not “work in pajamas” types. I’m a “work in pajamas” type. Such is the luxury of working from home. These “professionals” intimidated me with their suits and ties and briefcases. But free is free, so I inched my way closer to the clerk. When she asked me what I wanted, I stuttered, “Uh, wha- whatever is closest to a regular coffee please. Uh, gra- grande, I guess?” She laughed and passed along my order. I took my coffee and sat down to read my book. I looked next to my feet, noticed the outlet and thought, “Hmmm, I could bring my laptop here and plug it in!” (Yes, I know, I’m behind in the times.)

Well, since I had $3.00 left on my gift card, that’s exactly what I did. I stopped back in a few days later, laptop in tow. I had a little more confidence, and this time I didn’t stutter. I said, “Can I have whatever’s closest to a regular coffee? A grande or a large or whatever.” And the lady laughed at me because apparently, grande and large are two different sizes. Go figure.

I settled in with my laptop, my notebooks, my phone, and of course, my coffee. It was fairly empty, so I spread myself out. It was nice. I got to spend the day out of the house and still be productive! My only concern came when I had to use the ladies’ room. Sorry but I’m a city girl and trusting my neighbor to watch my laptop is just NOT going to happen! So, I packed up my stuff and did my thing.

I didn’t feel right plugging myself back in when I had finished my coffee, so I bought “lunch”. I spent $10.00 for a bottle of “the closest thing to regular water” that they had, a bagel with cream cheese, and a yogurt. I settled back in and proceeded to get some work done.

It’s now been 3 weeks since that first stuttering visit to Starbucks, and I have to say that I am officially hooked. I’m a pro now. I walk in and ask for my Venti Mocha Coconut Frappacino (or my Mocha Coco) without hesitation. I plug in my laptop and settle in as if I were settling into my office at home. In these past 3 weeks, I have used 3 different Starbucks as my office locations. Center City Philadelphia provides dozens of locations from which to choose. I’m looking forward to testing out as many as possible!

This has become my escape from the mundane daily tasks. Once or twice a week, I force myself to change out of my pajamas, put on some real clothes and head out to my “office”. I interact with “real” people, even if it’s only briefly. I eavesdrop on the patrons seated next to me (it is a writer’s right to eavesdrop after all). I indulge myself with caffeinated frozen treats that are garnished with whipped cream and chocolate syrup. It just can’t get any better.

And then it dawned on me. I’m becoming one of them. Ok, I’m still not hip. I still go home from these excursions and change into my cozy pajamas. But I have finally joined the laptop carrying, smart phone using, mocha latte (or in my case mocha coco) drinking generation.

And you know what? It’s not so bad. Anxiety over my bathroom breaks aside, I get to choose from dozens of downtown “offices” from which to work. I may overspend on mocha cocos and bottled water, but it’s still cheaper than renting out a “real” office for the day. And my fees include yummy, indulgent caffeinated beverages.

I don’t think I could keep up with the hipsters on a daily basis, but once or twice a week, I hold my own.

Photo Credit

*****This piece was rejected today. Here’s what they were looking for: “Personal stories, told in the first-person, about an interesting or important moment in your life. We have a preference for stories about city life. They can be funny, sad, wry and sardonic – as long as the voice is true. We generally avoid snark and we do not run rants. We like original work, not a piece that ran on another website or publication or a piece that is several years old. We prefer fresh, original material. The cardinal rule is: We like essays that are well written, well constructed and tell an interesting tale. The better the writing, the better the chance of being accepted.”

Here’s the email I received today: “Thanks so much for your submission.  We regret it does not meet our needs. There’s not enough that goes on and, in Philly, Starbucks is not for the hip at all.  The hipsters go to the little non-chain coffee shops.”



14 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mysti Reutlinger on May 20, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    WOW. Not ouch, but wow. Who are they, again?


    • It was for

      Considering that the piece was mostly me making fun of myself for not fitting in with a “hip” crowd, I found it rather hysterical that he had to point out that they’re not a “hip” crowd.

      I personally consider that independant coffee shop dwellers more bohemians than hip, but que sera sera.

      My boyfriend thinks that me posting the rejection letter could come off as me being vindictive . . . That’s totally not how I intended it! Like I said, I just found humor in it!


  2. I avoid Starbucks fairly easily because I hate coffee….ALTHOUGH I do love their double chocolate chip frappucinos only because they taste more like milkshakes to me….one of my nieces got one once and talked me into trying it and ever since I have loved them. Even so, I only get once like once every few months or more….just cause I find Starbucks so expensive.


    • Oh, the prices are ridiculous!

      I took some creative liberties with this piece . . . that gift card from a client was actually my boyfriend’s gift card from a client. He doesn’t like coffee either. And it wasn’t one $5 gift card; it was 3 $5 gift cards. Actually, now that I think about it, they weren’t even clients . . . one was a freelancer that he hired at his last job and the other was the intern that worked with him at his last job 😛

      I figure that I quit smoking though and I used to spend about $30/week on cigs, so spending $10 a week on a couple mocha cocos is not that bad! LOL


      • True, and better for you than the cigarettes…if only I could get my husband to quit smoking!
        Any tips? 🙂


      • I used chantix. I only took half of the regular dose and still had all kinds of wacky side effects, but it worked. I know a lot of people using e-cigs and I haven’t heard any complaints.


  3. Omigosh, Starbucks is one of my favorite places in the world! And it gets you out of the house too. =) You sound like a professional Starbucks goer indeed!

    I second Mysti’s “Wow.” What were they thinking? =P


  4. I found your post humorous, I could visualize you stuttering at the counter like so many do because they are overwhelmed at the options they have for mere coffee. I have only been to my area Starbucks once in the past three years. I am always amazed at the line in the drive through as well though. I know many that are “addicted” and insist that be the meeting place over others. Word of warning to watch the intake of the weekly indulgence- those calories can add up fast.


    • Thanks!

      The lines are ridiculous, but they keep it moving pretty quickly. And during the weekdays, it seems to mostly be business people on the way to and from work, so they’re mostly all to go. . . . Which is just fine by me cause I like to spread out!


  5. This piece was all the things metropolis said they were looking for – pooh on them – their loss! They missed a great piece.
    But it is absolutely HYSTERICAL that they felt they had to point out to you that Starbucks was not for the hip anymore… I mean, that just makes the piece even more funny!


    • Thank you, Anne! I had so much fun writing this and was so excited to submit it. I made 4 people read it and critique it before I sent it in because I had already received one rejection from them. It just wasn’t meant to be.

      And yeah, pointing out the “Starbucks is not where the hip people go” thing cracked me up. 🙂


  6. Well, I should defiently be one of *them* because I live about forty minutes from Seattle, the birth place of Starbucks. I really don’t understand why they can’t use small, medium, and large like everyone else. I’m at a lost whenever I go with people and normally just order a mocha, since I enjoy chocolate. You’re correct, there’s probably many interesting conversations heard at Starbucks and similar places.


    • I love eavesdropping! It’s a great way to get ideas for writing. I had a playwriting teacher in high school who actually gave us an assignment to eavesdrop on a conversation and write a play about it 🙂


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