My wife and I stopped at Starbuck’s after church last Sunday, and since it was already after noon, we each ordered something to eat. She went with her usual egg bites and I decided on an egg and bacon muffin sandwich. The shop wasn’t too busy, but since there weren’t too many table to sit at, I figured most of the business was drive thru and mobile order pickups.
Our coffee was ready first. The food took a little longer. At some point in our conversation, I thought I heard my name, meaning that the food order was up. I went over and quickly looked at the bags and saw what looked like our orders. Upon returning to my table, I took a closer look and saw someone else’s name. The label also stated “mobile order.”
Oops. For a moment I thought that the label had been misprinted. Or maybe those folks had taken ours by mistake. But then I decided to put it back and wait a little longer for my actual order. I’m glad I hadn’t taken a bite before I glanced at the label.
I wonder if that ever happens or how often that happens. The baristas crank out coffee after coffee and out out pastry after pastry. They cannot monitor who picks up what. Mobile orders are ready and sitting out before those folks even get to the restaurant. It’s all based on the honor system. I believe most people are honorable. I’m one of them – you don’t have to worry about me grabbing your food. But I know that not everyone is. And not everyone is paying close attention, either.
How many customers come in only to wonder where their order is? How many customers pick up an order and discover that a bite or a sip is already missing? I’ll bet some of you think that is amazingly disgusting. Yet sometimes I don’t look in the bag. I pull out pieces of lemon cake or a scone, assuming the whole thing is there. I wouldn’t even know. I wouldn’t know if someone took a sip of my latte, realized it had no flavor, and put it back on the counter.
Early this morning I took Ash Wednesday on the road. Two things prompted me to do this. One was this article. The other happened last year after our noon service. I joined one of our small groups for lunch, and the cashier at the restaurant saw me in my collar with ashes on my forehead and asked, “Do you have any more ashes?” Because of her job, she didn’t get to go to her church and get ashes. It made me wonder who else was like her?
So this year I got myself and my ashes together and I went to a Starbucks near us about 6 am. I had told the congregation I would be there, and it put it out on social media, too. I got myself a grande dark, found a nice corner and sat down to work and wait for the next two hours.
As I worked on sermons and devotions, a few church members wandered in to see me. Some on their way to work, some up before their caregiver duties began, one on the way to Mahjong, a few others on the way to school. All would not be able to attend worship today, so all appreciated the chance to talk for a moment, remembering with ashes both out mortality and the eternal life we have in Christ. Several hung out for a little, asking about me and how I was doing. Eight folks in all this time around.
The coffeeshop wasn’t as busy as I expected. About half of those who came in had placed online orders, grabbed their cup and were quickly out the door. A couple of folks who were there when I arrived were still there working on their computers when I left at 8 am.
I enjoyed the coffee and the conversation. I may try it again next year. Perhaps I’ll make a little sign (though it was pretty obvious what I was doing.) Or go a little bit later in the morning. It takes a few cycles for people to get used to something new. I like Starbucks better, but maybe I’ll give Dunkin Donuts a try.
A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting in Starbucks, in between appointment, drinking coffee and scrolling through some Reddit stuff when — get this — this guy came in, sat down, and did nothing else other than enjoy his coffee. That’s right, no phone, no book, no tablet, no computer, no friend to talk to, nothing. He just sat there and sipped his venti whatever. I can’t say that I’ve ever seen someone do that before. There were plenty of other people there, some like me focused on a smartphone screen. A few were engrossed in their laptops. A couple of friends were talking.
I began wondering, “Would Starbucks even exist if we didn’t have our electronics to amuse us and their wifi to connect us as we drank lattes and ate scones?”
You do it and I do it. Whenever we sit down – in the car, in church, in the bathroom, watching TV, at concerts, at work, in a restaurant, at the pool, at the gym, stripped naked waiting for the doctor to come in – we pull out a phone to find out what’s going on. I’m sure sociologists and psychologists have a field day with this behavior.
I think I may have seen another guy do this at a bar. He was just sitting there drinking a beer. He wasn’t doing anything else.
I might have to try this. I’ll let you know what happens.