I am currently sitting in Starbucks with my physiology. I really like this place. I know that Starbucks is all corporate and taking over the world and everything and I should support independent businesses and cute local coffee shops with my money, but let's face it, I just like it here.
One thing that has struck me as slightly odd about this place, though, is the music they play. Don't get me wrong - I love it. A lot, actually. I have yet to hear a song in Starbucks that I dislike. One time they even played Josh Ritter and I freaked out. When I walked in this morning and was waiting to order my coffee, my favorite Shins song ("Gone for Good") was playing. I knew at that moment it was going to be a good day. After that came the really excellent and slightly hilarious Iron & Wine/Calexico tune "A History of Lovers." I would count both of these as favorite songs of mine; they would both probably make the top 50. By this time, I had gotten my coffee and was sitting down with my Elle magazine to read an article or two before I hit the books. The music continued in the indie-rock genre for the next few songs; I think a Neko Case song or two was in the mix. After that, however, the music abruptly changed; I think they played an entire Frank Sinatra album, which was great for studying. It was also very quiet. Now, though, I think they have put in a Motown mix or something. And it got WAY louder. There does not seem to be any volume control, because whereas fifteen minutes ago Frank's soft crooning was barely background noise, right now some 1960s diva is blasting into my ears at an almost disturbing volume. It's all very odd. I would guess from this sequence of musical events that the employees get to put in whatever CD they want, or maybe they have certain CDs they can choose from. When I worked at American Eagle, they had a predetermined playlist that was about two hours long. It played on repeat, all day long. I still cannot hear the song "Golddigger" without having memories of folding and refolding pair after pair of jeans until I began to wish that jeans were never invented. While most of the songs were decent, I think all of us would have appreciated a little input into the music process. (There was one particularly heinous Christmas rap song that made me want to gouge my ears out. Yes, I said Christmas rap. It was about Santa Claus and it was truly awful.) So Starbucks, while I'd appreciate a little volume leveling, thank you for playing good music. I'm sure your employees appreciate it as well.
Also, an hour or so ago I talked to the cutest little boy I have ever seen. He asked me if I was doing homework. I told him that yes, I was studying for a test. He then held up his carton of chocolate milk and informed me that he was drinking coffee. I told him that chocolate milk probably tasted better than coffee. I asked him how old he was and he told me "two" and held up two fingers. At this point, his mother corrected him, saying "no, you're three, remember?" He then had a lot of trouble trying to remember how to hold up three fingers. That's got to be a bummer - just when you learn how to answer a question, your birthday comes around and messes everything up. He then asked me if I was three. I told him that I was not three anymore, although sometimes I wished I was. I think he was sad. I just love children.
The music got progressively weirder and weirder (and louder and louder). But they have redeemed themselves, because they are playing Josh Ritter right now!