Updated December 20, 2007. Location: Westchester, PA (jobby-job)
A conversation with a college student doing research about the decline in Starbucks' stock price. It had been a quite a while since I'd been contacted with one of these requests, but there have still been a few this year.
Unexpected flight to Houston buy a car resulted in two days of mad Starbucking on the way to Scrabble in Chicago.
High drama on the way to a Scrabble tournament in Asheville.
On Wednesday I had called the new Pottstown store to confirm that it would be opening on Thursday. I was told 8:30 AM, which made sense for a store in an outlet center. What I was not told was that the Philadelphia Premium Outlets themselves would also be opening that day, and at 10:00 AM. I arrived at the entrance just after 8:00 AM to see a line of cars at a security checkpoint. I was told there was no parking allowed in the lot. Employees were to a park a few miles away and take a shuttle, and non-employees weren't even being allowed until 10:00. Well, I wasn't about to let that stop me.
Plan A was to ask the security guard for a supervisor's phone #, and then I called the manager of the Starbucks and asked if he could call security and clear me. Unfortunately, the store had already opened because they had so many customers at the door, and the manager was too busy with a line.
Plan B was to made a wide circle and along the back roads and try to approach a different entrance, assuming there was one. Not sure, because the security guards were different, but they were still turning people away, so I just asked one of them to confirm where that shuttle lot was. Besides the two guards there was a cop, so I had to be careful of my shenanigans.
Plan C was to try and find that shuttle lot, though I wondered if I would be asked for ID and checked against a list of employees. Because of that, I decided to try a different plan.
Plan D materialized as I drove to the Linfield exit and saw that there appeared to be nothing but a field leading to the back of the shopping center. So I drove to a Turkey Hill gas station and walked/trotted across the freeway towards the field. But once I got close, I could see the fence that I should have guessed was there. Of course they weren't going to leave the entire back of the center exposed. It was stupid of me to even think so.
Finally, plan E, the simplest plan. I walked towards the entrace of the outlet center and then cut across the grass. The guards were preoccupied with checking the line of cars waiting to get in, and they either did not notice me or ignored me. I was able to walk into the center and find the Starbucks.
The final glitch was after I took the photo. A center representative, perhaps in PR or management, asked what media I was with. I told her about my web site, Starbucks Everywhere, documenting Starbucks around the world. She had a few questions, but she seeemed satisfied.
Much later in the day, down at the new store on Charles St. in Baltimore, I met an honest-to-goodness barista named Winter!
Well, drat! A few weeks earlier I had stopped at the Neshaminy store and been told that Warrington had been pushed back a year, so I stopped trying to call the store. Well, on the way to Doyletown along 611 I noticed a Starbucks that did not quite look familar. On the way back I noticed that the shopping center appeared new, and then I noticed the "NOW OPEN" sign in the window. It was Warrington!!! It had opened, on Saturday. Drat! I could have been the first customer if I had known!!!
Holy spit!!! Somebody donated $300 to my project!!! That's incredible!!!
Heh, I went to see The Brave One, and I was recognized for the first time by someone who had seen the movie without previously having heard of me or my project!
Around 6:00 AM I fought off sleep intertia and drove over to the shopping center. I had been having a series of dreams in which I was driving around looking for a safe place to sleep, and that was probably due to the concern that once the sky lightened the residents of the house next to the church, from their elevated porch, would have a clear view into my car. Even if they couldn't see through because of the fogged windows, they ight get suspicious.
Over at the shopping center, with plenty of cars in the lot, I had little worry of being hassled by cops. The sky was overcast and I was able to sleep until 8:10. With a very important Scrabble tournament on Sunday, I did not want to build up sleep deprivation.
Okay, that was weird. I reached the just-opened Bedminster store around 8:30, and as I was chatting with the baristas I noticed that I left my lights on and my keys in the car. I went outside to retrieve them and drop off my sample coffee, and about four or five cars down the parking lot I noticed a couple looking my way from behind a car. I had no reason to think they were looking at me until I exited the car and saw them quickly duck down out of sight. Strange. I walked back to the store and glanced over my shoulder to set them shuffle hunched over around the car and then scurry towards the CVS. The woman glanced at me as if with concern and clung to the arm of the man. Extremely strange.
The store was too new for T-Mobile, so I backtracked a bit to the Borders in Bridgewater 'til closing, then headed east on US-22 to a residential area. Once again had trouble falling asleep, and I wondered if my body had to get used to the car before sleeping there became easier. Since I had not been traveling as much, perhaps my body had become accustomed to a bed.
The circumstances could hardly have been better for being the first customer at another new Starbucks. The one at 34th & Chestnut was just a couple of miles from Scrabble club, and opened on Thursday morning meaning that I just had to camp out on Wednesday night.
Sleep was harder to come by than I would have hoped, even with the fake benadryl I took. Not sure if it was the coffee I'd had at work or the voices I kept hearing, including the radios of the yellow-shirted Penn Security people that I hoped would not see me.
Around 4:00 I woke up and drove the few blocks down Chestnut and parked across from the store. I tried to get back to sleep, with no luck, so at 4:40 I got up and took a seat on a metal bench in front of the store. Around 4:50 a barista rode up on her bicycle, locked it to a pole, and sat down to wait for the manager to open.
By 5:00, 5:10 maybe, two other baristas had arrived, and they all entered the store and started setting up. Meanwhile, I continued to read The Dark Tower. Around 5:10 a seemingly indigent old man walked up to the side door and peered in. Periodically he made utterances that I could not understand. Thankfully, he walked about across the street to a bus stop. He was close enough, that I could hear occasional muttering an whooping. I have to say that it's people like him that make the city so interesting in the wee morning hours.
At 5:29 I put aside my book and stood in front of the door. I tried not to look too impatient as the hour hit 5:30 and moved beyond. I worried that the opening would be delayed, thus costing me more precious sleep, but it only took a couple more minutes for them to let me in. I quickly ordered a grande coffee, which I would not drink until after some much needed sleep.
It was a good thing I got up when I did, because a few minutes after me walked in the old man. I do not imagine that he cared that much to be the first customer to have challenged me, but neither did I want to deprive a homeless old guy of a minor victory.
"No it's not, goddamn it!" That was the response of a lady whose number was posted as the number for the new Riverside & I-210 in Rialto. I realize typos happen, but Starbucks needs to be more careful about posting incorrect numbers. Seems like they should coordinate with the manager of the store to check the information on the web site and make sure it is correct.
Walked into the 12th & Walnut store and witnessed a barista sharplytelling a homeless man that he couldn't do "that" in there (presumably begging). The barista then apologized to the customer sitting at the bar, and the customer replied "It's okay. It's not his fault." Or did he? Turns out he actually said, "It's not your fault." And here I was about to explain that the homeless man was probably to blame, at least partially,
Received an e-mail from a disappointed fan in Greenport who I had forgotten to e-mail when I visited the Starbucks there. Like I told him, I just do not have a good way to keep track of who has e-mailed wanting to meet me.
At the Dearborne store, birdies!!!
Ouch! I've know NYC is expensive, but this is ridiculous. After several reshoots around Madison Avenue in Midtown (I think), I needed to stop and get breakfast and, just as importantly, charge up my laptop (thanks to stupid Hyundai). Since I planned to sit at a Starbucks for a while, I figured I might as well eat some pancakes, which I usually avoid because they are so hard to eat in the car. But several delis/diners/restaurants in the vicinity 7th Avenue & 52nd were charging a ridiculous price, $10 or more! No way!!! I bought a banana instead for 50 cents (still expensive) and some Odwalla OJ from the Starbucks (now waaaaay overpriced at $2.95) to tide me over until I found a more sanely-priced breakfast.
Waited until the last minute, after the tournament, to decide, but the pull of the two new Starbucks out in the North Fork communities finally turned out to be too strong to resist. There's always that fear in the back of my mind that if I go ahead and wait for more new locations to open that something will happen to an existing store, like being hit by an asteroid. On the bright side, I sold a DVD, and that paid for the gas.
iPod Shuffle? Nope, actually I'm having to learn the iPod juggle. Figuring out how to maximize listening time without dropping the thing as I routinely do my phone.
Oh, wow--an NPR segment I hadn't really been aware of, "What's in a Song", had Mary Chapin Carpenter on to explain the meaning of her song What's in a Song? 'Twilight'. Since I love to guess at the meanings of songs, this piece was heaven for me!
Finally bought an iPod, and I had an unusual repeat fan encounter at the Apple Store, from a man who had met me at a nearby store in Edgmont. The man had watched the documentary, and an additional oddness was a coincidence, that the last time I had been in an Apple Store was in Plano, TX, when Bill filmed me signing an autograph for an employee.
Shouldn't forget to mention that now that I am working near Philly, my dream of being able to listen to XPN all the time is realized. Unfortunately, I have such a backlog of news podcasts that I haven't listened to XPN as much as I want think. Thinking I finally need to buy an iPod so that I do not waste the minutes when walking from the car into a building and vice-versa.
AARRGHH!!! Starbucks announced plans to enter Tijuana in partnership with Grupo Carso, a different company from the one that operates in Mexico City, Alsea. This further complicates the fuzzy rules that I use to determine which stores are "real". Can a brother get some consistency up in this bitch???
AARRGHH!!! Mother fuckers!!! They shouldn't make it so hard and frustrating to find out wether a goddamn-fucking store has opened and when. What can it really hurt the company to make this information easily accessible instead of me having to pull my own teeth out making phone calls!!!
Had to wait at least 15, maybe 30, minutes at the new Cherry Hill store for a Honda Element to move from my frame. Didn't mind the wait, since I was still trying to finish Harry Potter, but what irritated me was that the vehicle was running, presumably to provide air-conditioning for the woman who sat inside while another woman was inside talking to the manager, about a job I think. Given the constant stream of news about climate change and rising gas prices, I cannot understand the mentality of a person who would idle the car for so long without any good reason!
No Starbucks in Panama, and I had gone all of Sunday without coffee altogether. By Monday morning I was jonesing, but not too strongly. Still, I was glad to take a break from the hospital with cousin Xavier and go to the first restaurant we spotted. I have no idea what type of coffee we were served (Xavier said Duran, I think), but it, with some half-assed cream, was passable.
Later, while the surgery was still in progress, several of us took a trip to Albrook Mall. I noticed a place called Star Coffee, with lettering in green and circular logo. Coincidence? But they did not serve filter coffee, so I tried the tinto, which is like an Americano. The price was amazing--50 cents. But I've never been much of an Americano lover.
At the other end of the mall I spotted a Duran coffee stand. Again, no filter coffee, so I tried a cappuccino. Decent, but still not the earth-shatteringly delicious coffee I was still hoping to find in Panama.
Later still my second cousin Benito took me to a shop called Kotowa that specializes in gourmet coffees. Still an Americano, but this one tasted better than any of the others, especially after I let it cool some.