Okay here it is. I’ll just have out with it. Almost every single word of the some 441,271 I’ve produced over the last ten years has been written inside Starbucks.
I’m not especially proud of that, not least because I live in Boulder county where there is an indie coffee roaster or yes, even a hemp-and-cannabis tea shop, on every corner.
I don’t even drink coffee. I’m a “Grande-Awake-tea-with-room” kinda girl. But here’s the thing. Gripe what you will about Starbucks, but, if nothing else, it’s consistent.
I find that by the time I’ve done the bulk of the reading, reporting, phone interviews and researching for a story, I’m usually itching to escape the four walls of my home office. When I’m ready to systematically peruse my notes and get down to writing, I need the comforting lull of repetitive music tracks, the grinding of beans, the whooshing of a steamer and background chatter of caffeine junkies. It’s become second nature for me to tune out the barista banter and the woman in the corner trying to persuade a guy to buy her pre-paid attorney service.
There’s something about that coffee-infused smell found in any Starbucks that guarantees I’ll usually be productive. (Remember when you used to have your ‘going out to bars’ jacket that would reek of smoke? I have a Starbucks jacket.) And the beauty is, it doesn’t matter if I’m in Colorado or Virginia or Sweden. They are All. The. Same.
One year I tracked my Starbucks spending. It came out to $45-70 per month. Pretty cheap rent for a second office. It also offers other perks. I have ‘colleagues’ there who have amazing jobs: Eric is a CPA who valuates assets of divorcing rich couples, Steve trains rocket scientists to be better communicators, former tarantula breeder Chad is now a pinniped zookeeper at the Denver Zoo, and Terry, well, I don’t exactly know what he does, but he’s the best conversationalist I’ve ever met.
Plus, if I’m going to Starbucks I have to at least put on jeans and brush my hair and teeth that day. And when I return home, it feels like I’ve actually been away from the domicile for a significant amount of time. These perks may sound trivial, but they are not. Sometimes just the hint of feeling like a professional is all you need to remind yourself that you are professional, and hard at work.
Of course, I also get to gloat inwardly when I see a group wearing employee badges and trudging back out to their cubicles. Me, I get to keep humming along to Mustang Sally, “Ride, Sally, ride…”
Image credits: Kendall Powell and random Starbucks colleague.