After delivering our pup to doggy daycare this morning, I stopped at the Starbucks a mile away and found it was closed. I was open earlier this week when I picked up drinks to bring back home for my wife and I.
Today I had three orders to fill as her daughter is also working from home. So I drove south to the next Starbucks and found the line reaching back out the drive and up the street. No problem. Not in a hurry or desperate for coffee. I don’t even drink it. Chai tea is my thing, along with other forms of tea. I drink them when I write at Starbucks. I have them as refreshments after workouts. We’ve even used Starbucks restrooms to change after workouts. That’s how I got started visiting Starbucks in the first place.
Waiting in line to order, we came around the corner to find a small sign stating that new hours were going into effect. The last order of the day would be taken at 2:45 p.m. I sat there thinking about that. Why would Starbucks turn down business? The lines are long all day? I was about to find out that answer to that question.
Pulling up to pay for the order, I held my phone up and commented to the server (wearing a mask) that I had an earned free drink to use. He rang up the amount and I commented to him, “The St. Charles store just closed today. And so did the North Aurora location. Are you guys slammed?”
He spun around and said, “Yes.”
Behind him one could see the normal hub of activity behind the coffee bar. Now I’d like to make mention that I’ve always admired how Starbucks workers handle the pace of their jobs. I’ve complimented many an employee on their speed, their cheer and efficiency. They call out greetings to customers who enter the store. Even the mobile orders get filled somehow between the counter traffic and drive-through. All while keeping the orders straight and the ingredients balanced. I couldn’t do it. My mind does not work well in circumstances like that.
When the occasion has arisen, I’ve spoken with store managers to offer words of appreciation about these things. One store manager explained that her relatively small location was one of the top volume stores in the entire area. That happens to be our most local Starbucks. And right now it is closed. That still seemed like an anomaly to me. But that’s because I still did not understand what’s been happening out there in the world due to the impact of Coronavirus.
The Starbucks store associate also shared that the reason so many Starbucks are closed currently is the lack of staff to work them. Here I was thinking the store closings were designed to protect profits for the company. I thought they were shutting down locations that weren’t driving enough traffic due to restaurant restrictions in Illinois.
It turns out the reasons stores are closing is that Starbucks associates were given an option whether to come to work or stay home and get paid. Many of them have taken the safer option. If true, that says quite a bit about the Starbucks company and that it genuinely cares about the health of its associates. For that I congratulate them.
It doesn’t entirely surprise me. From I’ve been told, and what I’ve observed, is that Starbucks treats their employees decently. Their associates get benefits such as health insurance, for one thing. Granted, working at Starbucks is not for everyone. Some people hate franchise and chain coffee stores as a whole. They prefer local coffee shops as a rule. I frequent those as well. A writer loves to have options on where to go.
The fact that Starbucks cares enough about its associate to allow its business model to cave in a bit and fold back the principle of being on every possible corner suggests there are responsible corporate citizens out there in the world. You can hate on Starbucks for a thousand reasons if you like; for its pricey offerings, its clone-like coffee shops, it’s whatever you don’t like. But if the offer to protect its employees is true, there is nothing to hate about that.
Obviously many employees took the option to stay home rather than risk being on the frontlines of customer interactions where exposure to the virus is almost guaranteed. This highly infectious thing we’re all trying to avoid floats in the air and lives on stainless steel for a couple hours. It is the bad dream from which America and the world wish would end. But to do that, we all actually have to wake up.
The fact of the matter is that there are still millions of people that prefer to live in the dream world that this massive debacle we’re all facing was not the fault of the President of the United States. They claim that no one could have seen this coming. And that’s a lie. He was warned loud and clear by none other than Peter Navarro, the man in charge of trade relations in this country. And there were many more.
Yet Trump acted like a selfish pig sitting there making up his mind about what to order at Starbucks as if there weren’t a care in the world or people waiting on his decision. So concerned was this narcissist with his own re-election he chose for two months to deny that Covid-19 would pose any threat to Americans. Now he’s telling the world that getting through this pandemic with only 200,000 deaths would be a success.
If Trump had his way all those Starbucks employees would be forced to go to work to prove on his behalf that nothing was wrong. “Go back to normal,” he keeps saying. “Fill up the churches on Easter,” he suggested. “This will all blow over,” he tried to say from the start.
I don’t blame those Starbucks employees from staying home from work. Their jobs are appreciated but not necessarily essential in terms of daily survival. People can live without expensive coffee and boutique breakfast sandwiches. We all get that. Some of our daily choices are definitely an extravagance of convenience, we’re learning now.
But lying to the American people was an extravagance on the part of Trump the nation could ill afford. The President lied to protect his own political interests, and that is all. He wanted to pretend the economy was safe from a pandemic when it was not. His obfuscation was a crime against all of humanity. Of that we are all now well aware.
His supporters still take to social media to trumpet his triumphal accomplishments during this pandemic. But their assertions all depend upon lies. In fact, objecting to criticism of Trump has always been an issue of defending the indefensible. His impeachment failed only because Senators broke their oath to defend the Constitution of the United States. Now America is forced to live with sickness of body, soul and spirit.
So I hardly found it ironic that when I got home from Starbucks this morning, the beverage carrier holding drinks for both my wife and stepdaughter had tipped and my wife’s coffee had drained out of the lid and down through the seat. The guy tailgating me down a country road had distracted me from noticing when the carrier tilted after I turned a corner going 45 in a 40 mph speed zone.
When I got home, I offered to go back out and get more drinks Starbucks but my wife had made her own with a coffeemaker we have at home. That about sums up the current state of things in America. The whole country is on tilt, and some days it just doesn’t pay to go out.