"Caffeinate me before I kill someone." - from One Flew Out of the Broom Closet
I am a hard core coffee addict, so hard core that my baristas at my local Sbux know me and know my drink. When I come in and they're training a noob, they introduce me. They get embarrassed when they forget how I take it (the introduction of the Trenta made things a little stressful at first, but they've adapted).
As a corporation, I don't particularly like Morebucks, but I love my local because a) it did not open across from or in the space of an existing indie coffee shop; b) it has parking; and c) the kids who work there.
Reason "c" is 98% of why the place has my loyalty. I love "my kids"--they're a lovely bunch of 20-somethings who treat everyone who comes in there with humor and honesty, kindness and courtesy (even if you're a pain in the ass--I know, I've seen it). The regulars know each other and say "hi" and chat. It's not like going into a chain--like most of the Dunkins I've been in and most of the Sbuxes--it's like walking into a little neighborhood coffee shop.
The past couple of years have been monstrously stressful for a lot of reasons. Last Wednesday sucked so badly, I can't even put it into words. I walked out of the house to be greeted by two guys from NStar (the electric & gas company in the Boston area), a locksmith, and a cop with a court order. Why? Because the electric bill was "seriously" delinquent, and they had to shut it off.
Now, I know that Mum paid the bill on Monday; I heard all about how she ran around doing it (instead of asking me to drive her to the bank and Western Union, which I could have done easily on my lunch hour). However, a call placed to the office showed no record of it. I cried. I couldn't help it.
So I called work, told them I had an emergency and would be late, called the dialysis clinic and told them not to let her leave, I was coming for her, sent a couple of text messages, and went and fetched her, took her to the house, she picked up the paperwork, and I took her into work because it was fuck all cold in Boston that morning and our furnace starts by electricity. I had intended to be into work early to finish up the monthly reports and paperwork. I got almost nothing done because of all of this. Argh.
Long and short of it: she never called NStar with the confirmation number. I gave them the number, got a reinstatement order put in, made her a cup of tea, settled her in the Atrium with her book, and then tried to get some work done. Got some advice from a friend with elderly clients, empathy from another friend, asked another good friend for crash space in case it didn't get turned on by nightfall (because it could take as much as THREE BUSINESS DAYS despite the fact that Mum is elderly and not well; getting her put on something called the "Frail List" which will prevent this from EVER happening again), and generally tried to keep my shit together.
What helped was the fact that I had a venti-sized cup of iced coffee with 8 pumps of caramel and a shot of espresso in it in a trenta-sized cup, with the extra space filled up by 1/2 & 1/2. That is the Riz Uze (short for "usual"). One of my favorite moments in that shop was the crazy busy Saturday morning I walked in, and Mallory (now in an assistant's position in a publishing house; I miss her!) yelled over her shoulder, "I need a Riz!"
You know you're a regular when... :-)
That cup had been made by Alex and John (and Toni may have had a hand in it). Alex had started it, but was going on break, so it was handed off to John... and there was a bit of chat with all of them. Heather was on the register... we worked out that Alex has been there the second longest (after Austin)... wisecracks were traded, smiles were exchanged, laughs were had. I left there grinning. I miss the kids who don't work there any more--the ones who've gone on to better jobs or back to school or just gone somewhere else... Christian, Nick, Bree, Mallory, Derek, JJ... I know I'm forgetting people... plus the current crew of the above plus Andrew, Stash (probably spelling it wrong, but he'll forgive me. Or at least give me a ton of shit), New Heather, Ginger, Alan... crap, who am I forgetting? Whoever I'm forgetting, forgive me--I am old, but holiday baking season is coming up and I will remember you then!
I just about always leave there grinning. All of the guys who work there are HOT--intelligent, funny, decent and just plain good dudes. The girls are sweethearts--not a stuck up bitch in the lot--and everyone who works there is just a damn nice person. Some I've gotten to know better than others, but there isn't a one of them I wouldn't call a friend or do whatever I could for.
Why? Because they take care of me. Because that Sbux is my "happy place," my safe haven. It's where I escape to when I need a breather. Because I am treated with kindness and respect and camraderie. Because I have had days when I wanted nothing more than to crawl into a hole and die, and after five minutes in there, I've got a smile on my face and I'm laughing.
That is not a small thing in this world. Most of the second draft of my novel was either written or edited in there, and I can't tell you how many days they've rescued--like the day I was rushing home to take my mother to the hospital for the umpteenth time and was wrapped up in a comforting hug (and like the hugs I got on Monday when I got back and the message I got on my phone asking if I'd abandoned my darling Graverobber). What a lift it was to be greeted when I hit the house party hosted by one of them. The "in jokes" we share in there. The shit I take (and by shit, I mean the kind of ribbing you only get with people who genuinely like each other) from the guys. Being told about new jobs, new loves... Laughing when two of the guys pull off an amazing bit of drumming to a Paul Simon song... getting Ricky-rolled (Ricky Martin... *shudder*)... laughter. So much laughter.
It's my place to go for a "first meet" with an on-line date because I know that I'm safe; not only do the baristas keep an eye on the place (and on me), cops stop in for their coffee; ditto local construction workers, Nstar techs, students, and a lot of people doing their laundry. When someone wants to meet up just for a coffee, we go there. Friends who HATE Sbux love going in there just for the atmosphere.
So, to "my kids" at the Somerville Ave Sbux... Thank you. Thank you for gracing my life and bringing me joy in those moments when I've been lowest and starting my work days with necessary caffeine and even more necessary joy.
Can I get my uze?