Monday, November 28, 2011

Name Drops of Coffee: How Starbucks Saved My Life

My TBR list is about two years old, which means I rarely remember why a particular book showed up on it.  I can see how the premise of Michael Gates Gill's book How Starbucks Saved My Life intrigued me -- I too have a fear of outliving my pension and ending up broke and wandering in the wilderness eating berries.  It almost makes it worthwhile to budget like I was planning to leave money to my kids.

Anyway, Gill wrote his story of how he managed to fritter his life from his high-flying days as an advertising executive who fraternized with everyone from Jackie Kennedy to the Queen of England to a guy hoping desperately to keep his job as a Starbucks barista so he could afford to make one more months rent on his tiny apartment.  And then he suddenly noticed that actually, he was a lot happier with his new job, which was all about making people happy by giving them something they wanted.  A guiding principal at work urged employees to support each other, while great benefits provided health insurance and college assistance to help build better lives.  In the old days, his co-workers competed to see who could sabotage each other the quickest, while clients casually paid as much in contempt as they did in revenues. His new life fed his soul at a much deeper level.  He also figures out how much of his success came from his privileges as a rich white guy, who now works for a black woman.

Unfortunately, every moment is seasoned with another chance to drop a name, so we all know how important Gill was before he donned the green apron.  I was not joking about the Queen of England -- he works in a moment where he embarrassed himself by pushing her aside to get at a cucumber sandwich.  He brags about clients from his advertising past, famous people he met at Yale, or through his dad's connection with the New Yorker, or at his country house, or anywhere else he can drag in a big name.  The name-dropping really slowed down the story of his sudden growth through blue-collar work.  

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