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Strike a match, a flame has been rekindled


After seven LONG weeks, my love affair with Starbucks (Sbux) has been rekindled. No doubt Sbux had long ago given up hope of ever seeing me again, but I knew the day would one day revisit us. Let me recount to you our reunion (content has been edited suitable for all audiences):

I squeezed my car into a tight parking spot between a Navigator and a Lexus. Killing the engine, I waited, watching rain drops patter on my windshield. The parking lot was filled today, even the handicapped spots were taken. I delayed my entry by organizing my purse. Then I took everything out, unsatisfied, and organized it again. I filled my lungs with a deep breath. You have to go in there eventually, I scolded. If I waited any longer, I would start getting awkward stares from the exiting patrons. But it wasn’t about them. It was about me. And Sbux.

I stepped out into the rain and threw the hood of my coat over my head, tucking my purse tighter to my body. The day was cold, winter was here, and clouds covered the sky. I peeked under the brim of my hood, scrutinizing the content of the clouds—it looked like snow. I nodded at a guy who passed me by, holding out his Venti cup of hot goodness as he dashed to his car. The rain had picked up.

When I finally reached the door, I hesitated—but only for a second. Pulling it open, I stepped inside. The buzz of dozens of conversations; grinding coffee; “I’ve got a….” drink calls echoing through the air; instant warmth; and the intoxicating fumes of coffee. It all reminded me I was at home. I scanned the sitting areas and tables, and saw that ‘my’ booth. It was a pristine location—with two tables, two outlets, a window and an undisturbed view of the coffee shop itself. And it was free. I set my bag on the tabletop and walked up to the counter.

“The usual?” the barista asked when I approached.

“Yes, please.” I smiled, flattered he remembered.

“One Venti Caramel Brulee Late!”

“And a bagel—toasted,” I added.

“Of course.”

Even though I had been gone, Sbux hadn’t forgotten about me or my undying love for something so perfect. I settled down in my booth, set up my laptop and pulled out a book, already sliding back into our familiar routine. Sbux is a forgiving affair.

HA! It’s a bit romanticized, I know. But good for a chuckle. In reality it went something more like this:

I passed by the Starbucks parking lot as I drove down the main road, my eyes quickly scanning for an open spot in the already overcrowded parking lot. There! I crossed my fingers and hoped it would still be empty when I finally pulled in. I turned left on a yield only green light through heavy 4 o’clock traffic, ran the gauntlet of the national Hunting Store parking lot, and made it through a stop sign. Just as I pulled into the parking lot, a zippy little sports car with a teenage driver cut me off and stole my parking spot. I muttered some choice four—and possibly five—letter words and pulled into another, less desirable, parking spot further away from the front door (I would have to play Frogger and cross the drive-thru line and navigate a jungle of untamed landscaping to get to the door).

I killed the engine and leaned to the passenger side of my car, reaching for my overstuffed purse. The safety lock on my seatbelt jerked me back, spilling the contents of my bag all over the floor. I punched at the red button until it released me, muttering while I re-filled my bag. Once everything was in place, I opened my car door and stepped outside, into a lake of a puddle and the pelting rain. I had forgotten my umbrella—again, and had to run across the parking lot, using my purse to shield my head. Needless to say, It didn’t work very well.

When I finally reached the door, I jerked it open, glad to be out of the cold and the rain and into a warm building. The buzz of dozens of conversations going on at once; grinding coffee; “I’ve got a….” drink calls echoing through the air; instant warmth; and the intoxicating fumes of coffee reminded me I was at home. Seven weeks had been entirely too long. I scanned the sitting areas and tables, and saw ‘my’ booth. It was a pristine location—with two tables, two outlets, a view out a window and an undisturbed view of the coffee shop itself. Which is why—of course—it was occupied by someone other than myself. The teenager in the sports car, to be exact.

I grumbled more and searched for a secondary location. The small table next to the bathrooms. It was either that, or a table in the middle of the store where everyone could stare at me, and with no outlets to boot! I walked over to the restroom table and set down my bag. Then it was up to the counter to stand in line and order my drink—the barista didn’t actually remember what I normally ordered.

Finally, drink and bagel in hand, I went back to my table to write. I pulled out my laptop and dug around for my power cord. It wasn’t there. I sighed and reached for my book, instead. Forgotten. My shoulders fell and I couldn’t help but let a little crazy laugh escape. It felt good to be back at Sbux again.

–Me

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