Recently I paid a visit to “The Office.” Not the one at the job I quit a few weeks ago, but a different sort of office. Actually, it’s not an office at all. What I call The Office is a particular Starbucks that I regularly visited a number of years ago. I don’t drink coffee, but at the time I had accumulated a large supply of Starbucks gift cards, so I would go to this particular Starbucks, order something other than a coffee, and then spend an hour or so writing. I managed to grind out some good material during those days, but inevitably my supply of gift cards ran out and once I started having to pay for stuff, my will to keep going to Starbucks started to falter.

Coming back to The Office, I immediately noted how much it had changed since my last visit. The whole place has been remodeled and there is now a pair of long, large tables in the center, a bar-style table along one wall and fewer individual tables. There used to be a lot of square individual tables, big enough to sit four people, but now there is just one square table and a few scattered round ones. The individual tables are also smaller, which makes it harder for you to put lots of stuff on them. For me this is a nonissue, since I normally would just have a laptop with me, but I remember there used to be this group of homeless/transient persons who would normally be in the Starbucks and one of them was always hauling around a desktop computer, which he would set up at one of the tables. These new tables are too small for that, and that guy is nowhere to be seen. The artwork and lots of other small details have also changed, but the new table layout is the most striking alteration of this Starbucks.

One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is something potentially sinister. I must confess that sitting in a Starbucks, drinking overpriced beverages while typing away on a MacBook Pro still makes me feel strangely elitist, like I suddenly have the authority (and indeed the mandate) to start ordering around the other patrons to do my bidding. At this point I am starting to suspect that this is actually intentional and part of a grand scheme by Starbucks to keep you coming back by making you feel better than other people.

I don’t see myself coming back to The Office regularly in the future, baring the acquisition of more Starbucks gift cards, but I might come back on occasion. Its time may be largely passed, but it still holds a place in the history of my writings.

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