Tuesday, December 09, 2008

“My” Starbucks: Volume Four

This afternoon, a customer proposed to one of the baristas here at Starbucks – for the second time. He was denied both times. Apparently he wants to hook up with a woman who will give birth to a baby but then disappear from his life. The barista – gently and kindly and professionally – encouraged him to consider surrogate options.

I’ve quickly become a regular at “my” Starbucks. It helps that two of the employees are former students from my youth ministry days. It also helps that I’m here nearly every day for at least four hours each visit. I don’t mind being known as “the guy who works on his Mac over in the corner” or whatever label I’ve earned.

Regular customers earn labels and reputations. Employees – whether we’re talking about a coffee shop or a grocery store or a gas station – recognize familiar faces and remember favorite orders and idiosyncrasies. It’s a comforting reminder of how communities ideally work.

I think my label is a positive one with all the Starbucks workers. I hope so. Apparently, there’s a guy who frequents this location who regularly tells the employees that they have the wrong answer to the question of the day – so regularly you could probably use the phrase “almost every time we have a question on the board.”

What is it about trivial knowledge that some of us find so appealing while others find so lame? I like the fact that I can explain the numbering patterns behind the Interstate system (thanks, Dad) or the only high school mentioned in “American Graffiti” (thanks, David Jack) or the origins of the phrase “mind your P’s and Q’s (thanks, Shirley Shedd or some boss from newspaper days – I’m afraid I don’t remember who first explained that one to me).

Can trivia push out more important knowledge? I’m sure it can. But I doubt it’s happened to me, because I’m not sure how much “important” info was locked inside my brain to begin with – just lots and lots of trivia, methinks.

But does that give me the right to go around and be a jerk with my trivia? No, although I’m probably guilty of having done that on many occasions. If I ever get to the point where I become known as “that guy” at my local Starbucks, then I’ve gone too far and deserve some kind of punishment – like being forced to watch “The View” every morning.