9/03/2012
We broke Starbucks

The unusual decision (for me, at least, for I'm just new here) was made: we'll have our monthly meeting at the Starbucks below our office.

Cue a bit of a logistical nightmare. First problem: telling everyone else that the meeting's at Starbucks, and not in our conference room. An easier task than imagined, because we caught everyone just arriving at the 19th floor, or just arriving at the elevator lobby on the ground floor.

Second problem: all the tables and chairs. It wasn't a busy day, but we're still nine people, and all the big tables - including this big one, one that looks like it was placed there for employees who decide to hold their meetings at Starbucks from out of the blue - are occupied. We managed by getting four small tables, all made for two, and ten chairs - although why we needed ten chairs, or how we got away with it, is still beyond me.

Third problem: the food. These monthly meetings run roughly two hours on average, and since it's in the morning - usually when people haven't had breakfast yet, except for me, of course - there's always something to nibble on. Usually that'd be something from Red Ribbon from the other end of the block, or the Jollibee below (talk about corporate synergy) but this time, it's coffee and expensive sandwiches. Let me be specific. We had nine drinks: four hot, five cold, one of which - my usual dark mocha frap - has no whipped cream on top. To go with that, we had two salads, two croissants, two salads, one sausage roll, one slice of banana loaf, and for me, some falafel on pita bread, because I haven't tried that, and upon seeing it on the counter I had the urge to go Middle Eastern for thirty minutes.

Of course it's not authentic falafel. It's Starbucks. It doesn't get everything right. Apparently falafel's usually fried, but mine ended up a bit smooshed - not that I'd know it's not supposed to be that way, because I've never tried that, again. But at least it's on pita bread. And it's warmed. I can imagine the barista's concern when he realized I'm ordering nine meals. I felt like a big boss watching over an assembly lines of expensive sandwiches. Well, pastries and sandwiches and, again, falafel.

I doubt Starbucks carries souvlaki. I doubt Starbucks will ever carry souvlaki. Now I want souvlaki. I haven't tried souvlaki.

The meeting went well. Mostly. We're not in a conference room, so you tend to fight for power outlets - although in this case, not really. You also tend to see other people going about with their business. I was listening, yes, but in these meetings I mostly just listen, so my eyes are free to wander, more or less. There's an old woman, definitely Caucasian, using her laptop. Another old woman, this time a Filipino, approaches her, and ask if she can get the unused chair across her. (We hoarded.) Sure, the Caucasian said, so the Filipino took it just as two of her amigas, I assume, arrived.

On the other table, there's a man fiddling with his laptop, who turns out to be with his girlfriend - ugh, another couple - thanks to said girlfriend arriving at the table and having her cheeks squeezed by this bespectacled guy.

And occupying the aforementioned meeting-style big table are a bunch of college students. Business students, I assume, from UA&P a few blocks away, because they're talking about marketing theories or something. Also, because one of them had a piece of paper, an answer sheet in Chinese characters. No, I did not go there to spy on them: I saw these last bits when we left Starbucks to return to our office. Our meeting was over, but theirs aren't; they're talking all these marketing theories while huddled to their laptops, all but two of which had Facebook on their screens. (One had Wikipedia on.) Nothing new, then.

The meeting ended at around fifteen past eleven, my tummy anxious for real falafel, but full anyway, full enough for me to skip my usual lunch. I got some work done, and then my body reminded me that Starbucks fraps almost always make me pass gas more often than usual. Add to that the chick peas in my falafel, and I was off to the bathroom.

And your responses...

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