(photo credit: Starbucks by Piutus on flickr.com. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode.)
It’s always weird after a long time away to return to a place that you once frequented.
When my kids were little, we went to Starbucks all of the time. It was a chance to get out of the house AND get a good cup of coffee AND bump into people I know but never get to see AND keep my children entertained.
The people who worked there always called my kids over to pick out stickers, back when they had rolls of stickers hanging over one of their back counters. My older daughter named it the ABC donut shop because she was learning her letters and noticed that the sign and the napkins and the bags and the cups all had letters on them. And a princess. Daughter #1 loved the Starbucks princess.
Once my kids were in school, I would go to the same Starbucks with my laptop and whatever work I had to do. Or I’d come with a novel and sit in one of the “comfy” chairs (also named by daughter #1) and read. I was one of those people whom the staff knew my order before I came to the counter and who wrote my name on the cup, without asking what it was. I got invited to their special holiday parties for customers and they always brought over treats or new drinks for me to try.
And then I stopped going. It must’ve been one of those periods where I went off caffeine, for my health. I knew I could get decaf but I associated my really good coffee with the shop and knew the temptation would be too great. I needed a caffeine break.
When I started drinking coffee again, I started making it at home. It was easy, and while it wasn’t as good as what I got out, I used good coffee, so it was still tasty. Then I found it easier to get work done either at home or at the library, so I split my work time between those two places. Occasionally I’d go to a Starbucks, if I were out of town, for example, but never the one near me.
Recently I returned to MY Starbucks. The store had been redone. The staff was different. They took away the comfy chairs. I didn’t recognize the other patrons who were camped out at the tables with their laptops.
When I got to the register, I looked up to see a staff member from the old days, when I was a regular. She looked me up and down and said, “Welcome back. Where have you been?” I don’t remember how I answered, but after I placed my order, she smiled at me and said. “I really like your hair short. You look fantastic.”
Ever since then, I’ve found myself returning to the nearby Starbucks much more often. Funny how a connection and a well-placed compliment makes you long for more.
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