My house was ground zero for the recent tornado that passed through North Georgia. The twister was totally unexpected, but thanks to technology (and good friends), we had a 15-minute warning to take shelter. The tornado alert started blaring on my iPhone. Friends were texting, telling me they were watching the news and Sandy Springs was in the path. My family headed to the basement just in time, as the winds started whipping around incredibly. The power blinked on and off a few times and went out for good. The telltale high pitched train whistle sound. Then thud, thud, thud. Limbs were breaking off the trees everywhere and a big maple in my front yard split in half. Fortunately, it missed the house when it crashed to the ground. It was all over in ten minutes. Lots of damage but nobody hurt, and a kind of calm came over us coinciding with the receding winds and noise.
Until the next day, that is. With widespread power outage and no hope of restoration any time soon, we all had to confront our greatest fears. Where will I get coffee, power for my mobile phone, and wi-fi for my laptop? Which of these was the greatest I cannot say. But I do know that the solution for all three, came to me almost immediately.
The closest Starbucks location in Abernathy Square was only about a mile or so from my house. Weaving my way through fallen trees and malfunctioning traffic lights, I was fortunate to arrive before the deluge. I secured a dark roast Grande, and a table with two electrical outlets nearby. I plugged in my mobile phone and laptop chargers and settled in. Within a half hour the line for coffee was out the door, and for the next hour or so it never got shorter. Within minutes all the electrical outlets were occupied. People were circling around like birds of prey looking for available outlets. The guilt started to set in, and I relinquished one of my two to a grateful man with a laptop. The thought occurred to me that a power strip might have been useful to bring.
Powered up, both with caffeine and electricity, I stood up to leave. A desperate looking woman immediately took my seat and thanked me profusely. I was happy to share.
Through it all, the employees and customers at Starbucks evinced the charactertic behavior that I have come to witness every time I go there. Pleasantness, courtesy, happy energy. It’s a strange thing that at Starbucks everybody is on the move, but nobody seems to hurry. Stop and listen to the music. Smell the coffee. Flop into a comfortable couch for as long as you want. That is kind of atmosphere that you just want to soak up.
As Starbucks says in its mission statement “to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”
Very appropriate for me, especially since my next stop for me was a yard full of timber and a house devoid of electricity