Everybody knows that Starbucks is comfort. It means that no matter where in the world you are, you are guaranteed a Skinny Vanilla Latte-just the way you like it. It means real napkins and muffins and comfortable couches, and of course, it means Frank Sinatra.
You cannot imagine my delight to find an enormous Starbucks right off the corner by our school. I am ashamed to admit, this of all places has become my home away from home.
The other night, Chelsea and I decided that we wanted to enjoy a nice relaxing evening at Starbucks. We weren’t even craving coffee, but were searching for that soothing ambience that only Starbucks can give you. It has these big fluffy couches that sit right by long wide windows-the ideal place to people watch. Because I had nothing to do, I was able to just sit and observe. After a mere half hour, I learned a lot.
I learned that couples, no matter what age, hold hands, even when they look unhappy about doing it. Every couple holds hands. If a man and woman are walking alongside each other and are not holding hands, it is safe to assume they are just amigos. I also learned that fathers love to carry their children on their shoulders, even as they wobble and sway down the streets, and the children pull their hair. I learned that when Spaniards are alone at night, it is best to walk fast, but if in the company of friends, time is no object.
And then it dawned on me how bizarre the entire situation was. Here I was, in Starbucks, where, if it wasn’t for the windows and the baristas speaking Spanish, I would have no idea that it was in the middle of Madrid. It was like I escaped the internationality that I have been immersed in for so long. Starbucks was, to put it bluntly, culture-less.
But then I looked again, and noticed something that did not surprise me at all. Spaniards in Starbucks are very different than Americans in Starbucks. They had more interest in each other than their laptop screens, and they were chatting and enjoying, yes enjoying, each other’s company. What a concept. And for hours, mind you. They could sit and chat for hours.
The best part about going to Starbucks though has to be the way that your name transforms on a cup. In Spain, Nadia is Nadia. Easy. I have gotten one cup of coffee with “Natalia” on it, but no pasa nada. But Chelsea is hard for them (shell-sea? they ask), and Denise always gets “Dennis..?” However, the name they seem to struggle most with has to be Trevor’s…this was what his cup read the other day:
...And that is exactly what we intend to do. With or without the coffee.