Yesterday I discussed my addiction to Starbucks and my grievance about the way some Starbucks customers place their orders. Today I discuss a second complaint, this one involving the tables at Starbucks. They aren’t the most elegant pieces of furniture, but that’s not what I object to. Instead, I’m upset about the lack of vacant tables. I have long wanted to use the simile “as rare as an empty table at a downtown Toronto Starbucks” in my writing, but I’ve yet to find anything quite so rare.
It doesn’t take me long to drink my doppio espresso and eat my oatmeal raisin cookie, but I want to sit while I do. If I walk into a Starbucks and there are no empty tables, I walk right back out again. Of course, being a addict, I usually try three or four other Starbucks stores before I finally give up. Fortunately, that isn’t much of a hardship. Farmers who have just seen their crops devoured by a plague of locusts like to come to Toronto after the devastation is complete. They can console themselves with the knowledge that at least the locusts weren’t as thick on the ground as Starbucks is in downtown Toronto.
When I do find a Starbucks with an empty table, there’s still a problem. I’m a bit of a loner so I usually go into Starbucks unaccompanied. As a result, there is no one who can hold a table for me while I place and get my order. To solve this problem, before going up to the front, I reserve a table by putting my coat on one of the chairs. This is a nuisance and a threat to my health in the summer because I walk around wearing a coat in sweltering weather, sweating like a pig, simply to have something that I can use to reserve a table at Starbucks.
I blame this table shortage on technology; actually on a few technologies. The first is one I probably should have talked about yesterday when I talked about placing orders Starbucks, but that posting was getting rather long. It’s those damned prepaid Starbucks cards. Alright, I understand Starbucks’ financial and marketing reasons for using them. They get your money sooner and they lock you in as a loyal customer. But these cards are a damned nuisance.
I’m not making up the following story. The other day I went into a Starbucks. There was an empty table, which I immediately reserved. The only customer at the cash had already placed her order and was getting ready to pay. If they sold lottery tickets at Starbucks I would have bought one because this was definitely my lucky day – or so I thought. The customer spent considerable time searching through her purse before she pulled out three Starbucks prepaid cards and said, “there’s money on one of them, but the other two are inactive and I don’t know which is which.” It turns out she was an off-duty Starbucks employee. I guess the cards are a perk.
The Starbucks cashier had to dutifully check all three cards because, as luck would have it, the money was on the last card he ran through the cash register. “There’s money on this card,” said the cashier, “but there’s not enough to cover your order. Would you like to top-up your card or would you like to pay the difference in cash?” By the way, I’m not talking about a massive order here. It came to only a few bucks.
“No,” the customer replied. “I might as well just put the whole thing on my debit card.” So she takes back all of her prepaid Starbucks cards, rifles through her purse, finally finds her debit card and, with the punch of a few buttons and after waiting for an approval from the debit card terminal, she completes her transaction. Meanwhile, desperate for my Starbucks fix, I’d been standing there impatiently forming the opinion that, as I’m apt to think in situations such as this, maybe my long-held views on the righteousness of pacifism are due for a rethink.
Enough about Starbucks cards, let’s turn now to another maddening technology. Who was it who had the bright idea to provide WiFi access and allow customers to use the electrical outlets at Starbucks? Were they totally deranged? When I walk into a Starbucks there is invariably at least one and often several people typing or surfing away on their laptop computers. They come in, buy one drink and then hog a table for half the day. Meanwhile, I have no place to sit down and enjoy my doppio espresso and oatmeal raisin cookie.
Are these computer junkies homeless? Maybe I’m prejudiced, but I think that if homeless people own expensive laptop computers they should reevaluate their prioritization of shelter versus computing costs. What’s more, I don’t know about elsewhere, but WiFi in Starbucks here in Toronto is not free – unless you have a Starbucks card; then you do get some free WiFi time; grrr. I haven’t done the arithmetic, but if you use WiFi just a couple times a week it is probably cheaper to get an Internet connection at home or at the steam grate on which you sleep, whichever the case may be. Kindly consider that in the future and leave the Starbucks tables free for my use.
Another technology that hogs tables is mobile phones. “Mobile phones,” you say, “how can they hog tables at Starbucks?” I’ll tell you. One of my biggest pet peeves is people, supposedly friends, who meet at Starbucks, sit down at a table and then spend two hours taking and making calls on their cell phones, totally ignoring the “friend” sitting across the table. Only when the batteries on both of the “friends” cell phones die out will they deign talk to each other. We can only hope they didn’t bring their cell phone chargers because at some point, after they’ve exhausted their conversations over the ether, they still have to spend a half-hour catching up on their in-person idle chit-chat – occupying a table the whole time.
I’ve said it on other occasions and I’ll say it again. The person sitting next to you should always, let me repeat that, always take precedence over someone who is reachable only by cell phone. Period. Like the Steven Stills song says, “If you can’t be with the one you love, honey, love the one you’re with. And turn your freaking cell phone off when you do.” OK, I added the cell phone part, but I’m sure Stills would have put that in if he had written the song today rather than back in the days before cell phones.
Categorised as: stuff and nonsense