Monday morning at one of my favorite haunts - the Starbucks closest to school. I feel a little like Norm from Cheers in here - I come here often enough that I am known by name.
That is one thing that my two favorite Starbucks stores do well. The barristas know the customers by name, and in some cases, they know their orders as well. It is probably part of their training - putting names on drink orders to facilitate the process of who gets what - and a cynic would say that it's simply a tactic to keep people coming back to buy expensive coffee.
And maybe it is. And maybe I have written about this before, but in a world of diminishing customer service, a smile and a greeting do go a long way toward keeping people coming back. I have begun to consider all of my expenses in light of my impending retirement, judging expenditures as "need" or "want" in a way that I haven't in years. And while Starbucks is definitely a "want" that carries few physical health benefits, the atmosphere created here, by personality of staff, by design from corporate headquarters, - or, more likely, a combination of both - assures it a safe place in my spending plan.
Starting my weekday mornings here is more than just a habit I take ribbing for on Facebook. It's a relaxing start to my day that makes me smile which - sugar content in the chai syrup aside - makes it a mental health benefit.
I come here - and to the Starbucks store closer to home - to work as well. I've written much of a novel and innumerable blogs here, far from the call of laundry, dishes and the vacuum cleaner and dustrag. Like Pavlov's dog, I associate the combination of a chai and a keyboard with writing time and I harbor the not-so-secret desire that I will travel the path that J K Rowling paved from a coffee shop to publication.
But for now, I will go to my day job, chai in hand and dreams in my head, contemplating what comes after Starbucks.