Monday, May 02, 2011

Mornings at Starbucks

This morning at Barnes and Noble, I overheard a woman complaining about the cost of her Starbucks habit. I doubt if anyone is forcing her to buy a nonfat, venti latte with a splash of syrup and three shots of espresso five days a week. I suspect that millions of people all over the world drop a small fortune at Starbucks during the work week. I think I used to be one of those people. I’m not anymore.

For over five years, I stopped at my friendly neighborhood Starbucks every morning on my way to work. With rare exceptions, I always ordered a tall, decaf, nonfat, vanilla latte. Once or twice a week, I also bought something to eat, usually a muffin or croissant.

Ordering the same drink every day made it easier for me, the cashier, and the people in line behind me. To expedite matters further, I paid with my personalized, yes personalized, Starbucks Gold card. I didn’t get a discount on my purchases, but there were perks associated with my Gold card membership. The vanilla syrup was free, and after I purchased fifteen drinks (which took about three weeks), Starbucks snail mailed me a coupon for a free drink.

My Starbucks habit probably cost me between fifteen and twenty dollars a week. Well , there goes my reputation for being, um, a bit frugal.

Why did I spend the money? Quite frankly, hanging out at Starbucks was a ritual I needed before going to work. For fifteen or twenty minutes every morning, I could relax, sip my latte, and make notes about writing projects or chat with other customers. During that last year, my mornings at Starbucks were the calm before facing the storm of what was all too often a very stressful work day.

These days I don’t go to Starbucks very often. I’m retired from that stressful job, so the necessity of psyching myself to go to work is gone. Since I bought my Nook e-reader, I usually hang out at the Barnes and Noble café two or three times a week. I don’t miss Starbucks all that much. I don’t miss my vanilla lattes at all. I can still get them at the Barnes and Noble café.

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