I never go to Starbucks without thinking of a quote from one of my favorite movies, You’ve Got Mail:
The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing or who on earth they are, can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino.
Tom Hanks, of course, delivers this line with his signature dry humor, and I can hear his voice in my head every time I stand in line here to order a drink.
In addition to my associations with movies, Starbucks also always reminds me of when I first began teaching. I student taught in a school that was a 45-minute drive from my house, and there was a Starbucks near my house I had to pass as I started my morning commute. I was usually the first customer in the drive-thru line, pulling in at 5:30 sharp and ordering a tall Pike Place, black, every morning. I’d arrive at school when it was still blissfully dark and quiet, and sip my coffee and get an hour of work done before the middle school students began to thunder in at 7:15.
Now that I teach part-time, I only stop by Starbucks a few times a month, so it feels like a treat to order a $5 latte and bring it with me to class. Today, I’m in the store, parked in a corner, plugging away at some grading and enjoying a seasonal iced latte, enjoying the hubbub of voices and music and steaming milk that is loud enough to be motivating rather than distracting.
Being here never fails to motivate me to fly through my grading a little faster, inspire a new blog post, or just provide endless entertainment in terms of people watching. I guess, in Tom Hanks’ words, I do get a defining sense of self by coming to Starbucks: when I’m here, I am teacher, writer, dreamer.