On My Shelf: How Starbucks Saved My Life


Thanks to my beloved Kindle, I’ve been reading much more of late, indulging myself in everything from epic trilogies to short stories, and of course, filling time in between with quick and mindless guilty pleasure reads.

“How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else” definitely made me feel guilty … that I gave any of my precious time to this undeserving author.

What I expected was an uplifting story about one man’s awakening to what really mattered in life.  What I read, in fact, was a self-indulgent attempt at justifying serially egotistical behavior and a generally patronizing attitude.

This one-time J. Walter Thompson Creative Director – who was on top of the world with a high-paying job and a great little nuclear family – imploded on himself by having an affair and impregnating another woman.  Just about the time his wife discovered his indiscretion, he was laid off in a downsizing / you’re-too-old-to-survive-in-this-industry cutback. And to add insult to injury, he was diagnosed with an extremely rare brain tumor. So you would think – of course you would think – that you would feel sympathy for this man whose luck turned so south.

Think again.

This narcissistic, pompous creature was something to be pitied, for sure. He discovered with self-congratulatory pride that not only could he deign to WORK for a younger black woman; she actually might become a friend (GASP!) He realized, while trying not to break his arm patting his own back, that he could indeed take out the GARBAGE in front of a former school mate, and still look at himself in the mirror. He reluctantly admitted that his menial job at Starbucks (or as he regularly referred to it: “Star-Bucks,”) made him happier than all the other jobs he’d held in his lifetime.

Of course, for a man who was supposed to be experiencing an awakening, he rarely mentioned his FOUR children; the illegitimate one was referenced only a few times as an occasional playmate who received his attention from time to time. His pivotal moment? Learning how to actually count money WHILE talking with guests. (Woo hoo! I can do it!) His “see-I’m really-better-than-you” show off point: at a staff event where he was recognized for suggesting the provenance of the company’s name: “It makes you feel like a Star, and you want to make bucks.” (Yeah, THAT’s impressive!) The book’s “climax” occurred when a combative guest pulled a knife on him, and his much-bigger coworker intervened and calmly removed the offender from the premises.

The reader never does find out what came of his tumor (though it’s rather evident he survived the medical crisis); we’re left wondering how he resolved any relations with his elder children (if he did); and we never discover (perhaps because he never really reflected on it) whether he evolved as a human because of his experiences behind the counter.

So … all I really can say. Waste. Of. Time.

But really, go ahead and read it. You can always buy back those two hours of your life!

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