I've been the editor of San Ramon Patch for about a month now and I'm slowly becoming a semi-expert on a lot of San Ramon subjects. One of which is our local coffee shops.
As a Patch editor, I work remotely, so as many of you head into your offices every day, I head to Starbucks or Peet's. A lot. And when I say a lot, what I mean is I spend more time in coffee shops than the baristas.
You might be thinking:
Wow. How lucky! I'm stuck in my cubicle with my irritating, smelly co-workers all day. I wish I could kick it in Starbucks and work.
First, it's not cool calling your co-workers irritating and smelly. Take that back. But there are challenges to working at chain coffee shops, too.
1. You have to pick one
Usually within three minutes of waking up I start weighing the pros and cons of which coffee place to park myself at. So far, I have a rotation of four: the three Peet's in town — Bishop Ranch, the one off Crow Canyon and the one up Bollinger Canyon next to Safeway — and the Starbucks off Market Place.
(Note: I still haven't been to . Do they have wi-fi? If so, I'll add it to the rotation.)
When choosing one, I have to weigh a number of factors.
Am I in a rush? Then I probably go to . Really easy access off the freeway. The problem is it's usually busy in the morning. Sometimes there are no seats. Attempting to work on your laptop with no seat — difficult.
Do I not feel like working too hard? Then I should go to the . It takes a while to get there and has proven to be the best place to eavesdrop on conversations. Don't give me a hard time for that. We all do it.
Am I hungry? Then the is my spot. There's a next door that also has wi-fi and for lunch I can go to my favorite sandwhich spot in the Tri-Valley — .
Do I really want to drink coffee right now? If not, then is where I set up shop. Unlike Peet's, where you have to buy something to receive a login code, at Starbucks I can immediately sit down, open the computer and start working.
(Note to Peet's: The whole Internet code thing needs to stop. I'm tired of asking for a code four times a day. Maybe this was a good idea whenever you thought it up, but it's not anymore. End it. Now!)
I know, I know. Picking a coffee house to work at shouldn't be difficult (and, in truth, it isn't), but I have enough decisions I need to make every day.
This is usually an issue until about 10 a.m. and then again in the late afternoon. Though I do like to be around other human beings (which is why I rarely work from home), sometimes I need it to be quiet.
For example, I had to do an interview over the phone last week and it was too loud in one of the Peet's to think. So I had to go outside in the cold, lean against the wall, clench the phone against my ear and shoulder and scribble on my notebook at the same time. I pulled it off, but at that moment, I did wish I was in a warm cubicle somewhere.
3. The cute woman paradox
This isn't really a problem; more of an issue. Let me attempt to explain this.
Last week, I was working in Starbucks. By chance, I happened to sit next to a member of the opposite sex one could consider, ahem, not bad looking. But I needed to focus; I really needed to do mCare (trust me, you don't want to know). But instead I spent the next 90 minutes trying to think of a way to spark up a conversation without it being awkward.
Anyway, I did eventually man-up, and it turned out well enough. But this distracted me from work for 90 minutes that I couldn't get back. This probably doesn't happen when you're working with your smelly co-workers.
(Note: I'm guessing some of you are over-thinkers and telling yourself:
Oh, now I understand why the San Ramon Patch editor is writing 1,200 words on his experience working at coffee places. He wanted to let this girl know he thought she was cute. Pathetic.
Well, you are over-thinking. That would be completely shameless and unprofessional. I would not stoop that low. Never. Wouldn't dream of it.)
4. Crazy people
Let's be clear who I'm talking about here.
I'm not talking the people who take 45 seconds to explain their drink order; I'm not talking about the guys who wear sunglasses and shorts even though it's cloudy and 42 degrees outside; I'm not talking about the old men who order a cup of coffee, sit down and don't move for the next six hours. I got no problem with those people. I love those people.
I'm talking about crazy people. Not eccentric, or unique, or people who might not perfectly fit into America's current zeitgeist. I'm talking crazy.
Luckily, I haven't yet seen crazy in San Ramon. But, back when I was the editor in Clayton, I saw crazy.
I was typing away on a quiet Friday afternoon at a Peet's. Then, suddenly, a disheveled man in his 50s comes storming through the door, walks right up to one of the baristas, and started yelling an incoherent, expletive-filled rant that would have made Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction blush.
It ruined me for a week. Heck, I'm still traumatized. If you're at a Peet's or Starbucks often enough you will eventually see crazy. It doesn't make for the ideal work environment.
5. The frustration of buying drinks and food
Look, I appreciate Starbucks and Peet's. Overall, it's a net gain. But, man, are things overpriced.
The worst is at lunch time. I could leave and get a proper meal somewhere, but I often need to finish something with work. So I buy one of those sandwiches from Starbucks, which I know I won't like and costs twice as much as it should. I hate myself 7 percent more after I do this.
OK, enough of me complaining.
With my job, there are a lot of advantages of working in public places. The biggest being I get story ideas and meet the people I cover. If you see me at one of these coffee places (and if you ever buy coffee in San Ramon, you will see me. I guarantee it.) Please interrupt me for a minute and say hi.
Though, while writing this column I did think of a solution to my coffee house issues.