It's part three in the series! (here are links to part 1: Pixar! and part 2: Google!)
Now, going to get coffee with your coworkers doesn't traditionally qualify as a field trip. Usually, this is just something you do to pass the morning or break up the afternoon. We have a little crew that goes pretty religiously every day around 10 or 10:15 am. The baristas know us by name, and if one of us is going to be late or get coffee elsewhere, we usually text our core crew members so they don't wait around. It's a fun morning ritual.
The reason this counts as a Field Trip for Grown-Ups is that we switched things up a little last week. On Friday, we decided to use an extra Starbucks trip as a coping mechanism for a late-afternoon meeting (I'm never very awake on Friday afternoons to begin with, and even less so if I have to be mentally present at a meeting). The best part? We had these coupons for free coffee that one of our designers had printed out. The coupon specifically mentioned that you had to print it, and we followed the directions, so we each had our own piece of paper (woe to the trees). It did occur to me, right as we were leaving, that I should bring my wallet. The coupon's offer--a completely free drink, no purchase necessary or strings attached--seemed a little too good to be true. But everyone said not to worry. They'd studied the fine print, and we were in the clear!
We all excitedly trotted off down the block, our treasured pieces of paper fluttering in the wind. Mo almost lost hers when it blew away, but she braved oncoming traffic to save it. Our rather large posse reminded me of a bunch third-graders waiting in line to get on the bus, clutching their precious permission slips that granted them one day of freedom away from the classroom. We were laughing and happy as we discussed what drinks we were going to get. Drinks we never normally considered ordering because real possibilities. A Frappucino with whipped cream? One of the fancy new Vivanno concoctions? Lemonade? A Green Tea Latte? Iced or Hot? Regular...or decaf? (It was, after all, our second trip that day to Starbucks.) The menu was our oyster. Our future was an open book, bright and promising.
It only took a second for the baristas to crush our childish notions.
"That coupon's fraudulent," one of them said compassionately. "We got an email about it from management."
Suddenly, everyone was aghast. The mood change was palpable -- you could feel the sad shock rippling through our group. Mo looked at me and said I'd been right to be suspicious. I was mad that I hadn't brought my wallet. We debated staying or leaving, but ultimately decided to get the drinks anyway. I was going to need another caffeine shot to help me cope with not just the meeting but the disappointment. We got to the register and ordered our drinks. I was looking to one of my coworkers to see if I could borrow money when the barista told me not to worry about it.
"It's on us," he said.
"Really?" I responded. "But... why?"
"You guys are such loyal customers, and you were all so excited when you got here," he said, sounding like he really, genuinely cared. "We didn't want you to leave disappointed."
Starbucks may be a chain, but I can't say that my local branch downtown doesn't have a heart. And thanks to that second cup -- I'd gone with a simple iced coffee, since they were comping us -- the meeting didn't seem so bad after all.