Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The End of Office Politics

For someone who says she doesn't drink coffee, except as an ingredient in those milkshakes they call frappaccinos, I have a hard time explaining why the baristas all know me by name at my local Starbuck's.
          Recently, one of them actually had my de-caf tall mocha hazelnut frap with whip started the moment I walked in the door. Also as a cone-wasser of their small, but potent lemon squares, I will often purchase a couple of these confections [$.50 off the second one btw] as a treat, if I happen to be in the store just before closing. Something to tide me over on the five-minute drive home. This often prompts the appearance of an extra one or two in the bag, another perk of becoming one of the regulars -- free leftovers. 
          It all started when Starbuck's got wifi. I now had an excuse to work outside of the house in an environment that offered more than trips to the fridge in my underwear. Then my town library got wifi and I suddenly had another option. But only after I got up the courage to return a book I'd borrowed in 1997, a tome I discovered during my once a decade routine of dusting the shelves. Unable to compute the amount I surely owed, I prepared myself to pay whatever it took to get in their good graces again. After telling them my very sketchy tale of woe, I was shocked to discover that they had no record of the book. Or me, for that matter. The card I handed them wasn't in the system either. So I got a new card, and they accepted the library book as a donation. All because of wifi. I'm a wifi regular at their "cafe" now, a vending machine room at best, but paradise as libraries go. 
          I've had the same experience with FedEx Office the company that ate Kinko's. The night crew knows me so well they'll ask where I've been, if I haven't stopped by at least a couple of times a week. I'll often go there to work after 9:00 PM because they're open 24 hours, seven days a week -- except on Labor Day, it turns out. And I'm almost always the only customer in there, a benefit of living in the suburbs, assuming you like having the place to yourself and aren't there to meet the love of your life. The printers and copiers are mine all mine. Not one minute of waiting. And if they run out of the snacks I like -- cheese Pringles -- somebody will check in the back to see if they've got more. Try asking any of the "co-workers" to do that during the day. 
         I have also added Subway, Panera, and McDonald's to my worldwide offices. One of the sandwich makers at Subway gave me a free cookie a few weeks ago, just because I asked. Fast food joints are just another office for a freelancer. Free from politics and people sucking up for promotions. A place to write copy, update websites, even skype. All for the cost of an Egg McMuffin or a 6-inch sweet onion teriyaki chicken sandwich. P.S., a Starbuck's barista just gave me a receipt left by a customer. It lets me go online, take a survey and get a code for a free beverage next time I'm there. I can do that. 
         Got any other "office locations" I should look into?

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