As an independent contractor for my clients, I work in a variety of settings. Sometimes it’s onsite with the client. Other times I’ll work from my studio space at Water Street Studios. Many times I’ll set up at Starbucks to write or conduct public relations.
Yes, the food and drinks at Starbucks are considered by some to be too expensive. But I don’t drink coffee of any sort. So I choose a chai tea or a black ice tea. Their breakfast Bacon and Gouda sandwich costs just under $4.00. So the total breakfast bill usually comes out to just under $8.00.
That’s not much different at McDonald’s. Most of their breakfast and lunch combos add up to $8.00 or so. But the ambiance at McDonald’s is not the same as sitting in any one of five local Starbucks within eight miles of my house.
That’s right, there are five of them within easy reach. Two in North Aurora, one on the east side and one on the west. Two in Geneva, and two in St. Charles. I’ve also visited Starbucks in Yorkville, Naperville and many other towns as well.
They are consistently friendly places. All of them. I admire that. Either they treat their employees well or they’re all fabulously brainwashed. I think it’s the former.
I’ve even visited a Starbucks in London. There was a store only one block from the place we stayed in the center of London. The food was ever so slightly different there. But not that much. My fiance got her coffee. I got my Mango Black Tea Lemonade. We were on our way.
For a few years, we ran from a Starbucks in downtown Naperville on Saturday mornings. It’s always great to have a place to ‘do your business’ before hitting the running trail. Have a small bite to eat, jog around a little and empty the bowels. Life is always better on the other end of one of those.
When we’d get back from our runs, the bathrooms were sufficiently large to enable a quick change into dry clothes. This is where athletes really learn to appreciate the small things. Changing your wet clothes after a long run is one of life’s little luxuries. Then you can sit there in comfort, sip on your favorite beverage and talk about life’s changes or challenges with friends. What can possibly be better?
Dialing it in
This morning I planned out my run by parking at the Great Western trailhead beside Leroy Oakes Forest Preserve in St. Charles. The first three miles were a sluggish trip out west to Wasco. Then I turned back and picked up the pace. After an 8:30 mile I dialed it down to 7:00 pace and clocked a 6:55 fourth mile. Timed it on my Timex. It felt good.
Too bad that mile did not exactly sync up with the same mile market on my Strava, which only gave me credit for an 7:47 mile at some point during the run. Such is life. Some of our best efforts are known only by our own witness.
Then I zipped out to Wasco again thinking there might be a Starbucks in that growing little town. I thought I’d seen one in the past, but it must have been some other green awning. Surely I could have dug around and found another coffee shop. I often visit Graham’s 318 in downtown Geneva where I’m technically, I suppose, one of the “regulars.” There’s the Christian Bible Study guy. The Guy Who Sits in the Same Big Chair in the Back Guy. The Engineer with his Big Maps guy. The Older Couple By the Door Wearing Stocking Caps duo. And there are lots of regulars who shoot in and out on their way to the train three blocks away.
I also see an artist friend there who suffers from bipolar disorder. I can tell by the way he walks up to the door whether he’s having a good day or bad. His work is featured all around town, and he can be immensely productive when his mind is working well. When it’s not, he gets by with a thousand-mile stare and a will to see another day. But it’s strained at times. And I get that.
Oops something’s missing
When I didn’t find my apparently imaginary Starbucks in Wasco, I drove back to a trusty shop in west St. Charles. There I changed into dry clothes in the bathroom and went to order a drink and some coffee. Only my wallet was missing.
Damn, I thought. And checked through both my computer bag and Tyr tri-bag. No luck. I must have left it at the Starbucks I visited earlier that morning to buy a water and check my email after dropping Sue at the train.
I called the store but they said it hadn’t shown up. So I went by the store to check for myself. And sure enough, after my call the manager found my little black wallet. It must have slid off the table when my bag hit it that morning.
Locker room talk
Relief. So I ordered a Grande Mango Black Tea Lemonade and downed a Bacon Gouda. I was dry inside my changed clothes and the Wi-Fi always works like a dream. In my occupation, fast, reliable Wi-Fi is as critical as a good pair of running shoes or a decent bike.
And granted, the Starbucks bathroom may be a long way from a posh locker room at a fitness club. But I don’t even use the posh one at the Vaughn Center where we swim and lift. The People’s locker room downstairs is plenty nice. I talk with other people and meeet some great folks. What more do you need in a locker room other than a seat and a place to hang your clothes?
But when you’re on the run, you need a consistent place to make that change. So changing at Starbucks is a part of my life. A recent report told me the company now has more stores than McDonald’s. Perhaps I’ll change in a few more before my days are through.
How about you? Do you have a fave coffee shop from which you run and ride?