Friday, September 14, 2012

Ad Astra Per Starbucks

In thinking about my favorite guilty pleasures, I'd have to confess that "Starbucks" ranks pretty high on the list.  In fact, as I write this post this morning, I am slurping on a home-brewed cup of Veranda Blonde (I don't typically prefer blondes, but in coffee, I do)!  Upon realizing the amount of money from our weekly budget that had been going to support the $32 billion dollar company, I felt kind of sick--that money could be going to feed a hungry child.  So I have made a recent, honest effort lately to not go to "Starbies," as I've coined it, quite so often just to limit the disgrace of that. 

So why do I love Starbucks so much?  Lots of simple reasons.  First, I've never had a bad cup of coffee there.  Regardless of what city in which I find myself, Starbucks coffee shops are pretty much all alike.  You can order anything and trust that it will be exactly how it tastes at your own personal store.  Secondly, the atmosphere is the same at pretty much every location.  So you walk in and feel instantly at home. To a person who likes familiarity, this is a huge perk (pun intended).  Thirdly, I love the people that work there.  You rarely meet anyone there who isn't "over-the-top" friendly, professionally personable, or perhaps even funny.  Matt and I have a special bond with a barista named, "Ben," who works at our favorite "Starbucks" in Lawrence.  When he is there, it feels as if we've just seen a dear friend.  If we haven't come in recently, he asks where we've been and what we've been up to lately.  He calls us by name, and we do likewise with him.  We also have a similar relationship to a guy that works in the "Starbucks" on the Country Club Plaza in KC.  A couple of years ago, we were frequenting that store quite a lot, and so we got pretty friendly, comfortable, and recognizable there, as well.  We actually ran into this particular guy recently at a Sporting KC soccer game--he recognized us, hadn't seen us in a while, and got out of his seat to come say hello to us just to ask us where we'd been lately.  I've never experienced this kind of friendliness by people who are actually "strangers."  I think Starbucks just knows how to hire genuinely good people.  But it is truly nice to have a place to feel welcome in the cold, cruel world.  Like the old TV show, "Cheers," I guess I just want to be like the character, "Norm," and have a place where everybody knows my name (or at least, someone knows it)!  Fourthly, I love the music played at Starbucks.  I have never heard anything but pleasingly pleasant tunes, spun at just the right volume level, should you desire to read or work while you're there.  In fact, many of our newest iTunes purchases come from music we've heard at Starbucks.  Along that note (pun intended, again), fifthly, I love Starbucks because you CAN read or work there.  So many coffee shops have turned into social gathering spots (which is fine and well), but it is nice to have a place to work or read when I feel the need to change up my workspace locale.  The people lingering there are almost always working, too, so it is usually very quiet.  I just feel relaxed and immediately calm sitting in a Starbucks, which is kind of a paradoxical thing.  Feeling relaxed while drinking a potion that typically hypes you up is kind of a quirky dichotomy.  But nonetheless, it is how I feel when I am there.  All of these things added together make the pricey "Starbies" java seem like a bargain, in my view.  Great combo package wrapped up in a brown corrugated sleeve.

I can be having the worst day, and if I quietly enter a Starbucks, buy my favorite concoction, and sit down to read, pray, write, work, or catch up on email, I always walk out feeling refreshed.  Just seeing the mermaid siren on the 40-year old, deep green company sign makes me happier.  My husband says I am a dorky lush for Starbucks and that I could do ads for them.  Maybe I am a dork--and I know I'm a lush for that coffee.  But it is the simple things in life that bless you, and I praise God for Starbucks.  So I flipped the good ol' Kansas motto of, "Ad Astra Per Aspera," for my title today (which we know means, "To the Stars Through Difficulty").  On difficult days, venture in for a correctly brewed cup of joe, and your view of life will heighten (and not just from the caffeine)!