My Starbucks Office: An Open Letter to Starbucks Corporate

It's hard to work from home, it is. Someone is always calling (usually my mom) or stopping by (usually my drug dealer) and interrupting what I'm doing. (Kidding about the drug dealer. Really.) And then there's the kitchen. It's always needs cleaning. And don't even get me started on the cat. For some reason he feels that he MUST MUST MUST sit between me and the computer and lie down over my forearms while I'm typing. These things combined with the fact that Oprah's on at four are enough to make even the most dedicated person unproductive. Because of this, I frequently visit my local Starbucks to get work done.

It's my Starbucks office, that's what I call it. There are branches all over town. Yes, I'm one of those people who camp out at a table all day, one of those people who prevent you from finding a seat when you stop by in the middle of the afternoon for your non-fat mocha. Sorry. But I buy things all throughout the day; I try to earn my keep.

Okay, so on with my story. I've been going to this one Starbucks by my apartment forever. I like it because it's close to where I live, I get free wireless there, and it's cozy and neighorhoody. Other writers (my co-workers) go there as well, but I don't know their names. It's kind of like an unspoken rule--we're there to write, not chat, so we watch one another's stuff during bathroom runs (a huge disadvantage of going to a 'bucks where you don't know anyone is that you have to pack up every time you go to the bathroom, which happens WAY too frequently because you're drinking so much damn coffee because you don't want to be kicked out, so you usually lose your table by the time you get back), we share tables when it's crowded--but we never EVER exchange names. I like this. Let me repeat: I LIKE THIS. And I thought my co-workers did to. But then came Lenny.

The fact that I know his name should tell you that this guy was nothing but trouble from the get-go. Yep. From the moment he arrived on the scene, Lenny was chatty, chatty, chatty. It was "What are you working on?" this and "How do you like your computer?" that and "Gosh, it sure is windy outside today, huh?" I wanted to turn him and yell, "FOCUS, Lenny! FOCUS! We're here to work!" But I didn't. Why not? Because I'm a people pleaser. I don't like to cause problems. I don't like tension. What I'm learning about myself as I get older is that I avoid confrontation at all costs.

Since I didn't want to be rude I answered Lenny's many questions, which of course led to the most dreaded one of all: "By the way... what's your name?" As my co-workers shot me worried glances that said, What in the hell is he doing???, I felt a pit form in my stomach. I wasn't sure what to say. If I told him my name did it mean we were going to be friends? I mean, I'm always up for making new friends... but not with Lenny, not with chatty, chatty Lenny.

Against my better judgment I told Lenny my name, which led to an even MORE dreaded question: "Would you like to get a drink sometime?" Would I WHAT? Did I hear him correctly? Many of my co-workers choked on their chai tea lattes and looked away. I mean, this was our place of employment for God's sake. I was in a predicament. If I said no to Lenny's drink, it would be rude because it's kind of like saying, "I don't want to be your friend." If I said, "No, I have a boyfriend," then it would be presumptuous of me to assume that Lenny was looking for something romantic. So anyway, I said yes. As I started to write down my e-mail address, he interrupted and asked for my phone number. My PHONE NUMBER. I mean, sh*t -- right? I couldn't say I didn't have a phone because it was sitting right in front of me, so I gave it to him.

Lenny called about a week later. I was on the other line at the time and told him I'd call him back, but I forgot. By the time I remembered, his number had disappeared from my call history. Since then, I haven't gone back to the 'bucks for fear of a "confrontation." I'd have to say something about not calling him back, and then he'd say, "Oh, it's no big deal, really," and then I wouldn't be able to work because it would be awkward and I'd be all worried about it.

I walk by my favorite Starbucks a lot (always on the other side of the street, of course) and look in the windows--Lenny's always there. Fucker. He drove me out. And I was there first. I've tried to transfer to some other office branches in the neighborhood, but I haven't had much luck. The Starbucks on Court Street in Brooklyn Heights is really drafty, and the one on Montague is okay, but I have to pay for wireless internet there and it's kind of far.

All of this leads me to one thing: Starbucks needs a human resources department. It's as simple as that. I'm not asking for baristas to announce my appointments, screen my calls, or validate parking for my clients or anything--I just need a place to go to air my grievances, you know? I need someone to complain to when the techie with the Mac, iPod, Blackberry and phone hogs all the outlets. I need someone to complain to when people like Lenny ask me out on a date. Hell, I don't even need a whole department--one person would do. So if anyone reading this has pull at Starbucks corporate, please try to make this happen. I'd be happy to come to a board meeting and make my case. Thank you.