Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
I'm not at my finest first thing in the morning.
Especially if it's cloudy or raining. In the outside world or inside my head, that is.
I want to commune with my baristas. They're some of the loveliest people in the world. At that time of the morning, at least.
Or, as I prefer calling 8 a.m., night.
I ordered my Grande Almond Milk Latte, failed to resist a Double Smoked Bacon Sandwich and chatted with Kurshina the barista about the ills of the world.
Something, though, wasn't right.
There was a loud, tinny noise invading my firmament. As I waited for my latte, this noise was getting louder.
I began to recognize it as a human voice talking about sales numbers.
Sherine, a barista of calm temperament and strong views, handed me my latte.
I turned to go and finally located the source of the cacophony.
Two men were seated at a table, their laptops out and open. One had placed his phone on the table.
These people were holding a conference call. In Starbucks. At full blast.
Please, I'm fully aware that Starbucks can be the location of job interviews and even in-person team meetings.
This was, to my mind, a symptom of something far worse.
We've come to live in our own, electronics-enabled world so much that we don't even think about how it affects anyone else. Or, if we do, we don't care.
Recently, I went to a restaurant bar for a quiet meal, accompanied by a murder novel.
Three separate people decided it was just fine to play videos on their phones at full volume.
Right there at the bar.
They didn't care if it disrupted anyone else. They didn't even consider whether it disrupted anyone else. This was, to them, normal behavior.
That's what we've come to, it seems. Equally, it seems that most people are absolutely fine with it.
So the two salespeople holding their conference call surely didn't care that it might annoy anyone else.
They also didn't care when I stared at them menacingly for at least 30 seconds.
They did care, though, to turn the volume up loud on their phone's speaker. Why, they needed to drown out all the other noises at Starbucks, didn't they?
I know you'll tell me it's just me. I should get used to it.
But let me plead, all the same.
Please, traveling salespeople and other business types. I know you think your meeting is very important.
I know you need to catch up on the latest sales figures and discuss your immediate prospects.
But a conference call at full blast? At 8 a.m.?
Starbucks has an open-door policy, one that drove me out of a Manhattan Starbucks last year.
Equally, customers are still able to complain when human behavior becomes intolerant and intolerable.
I fear that if I complained that early in the morning, I might use short words I'll regret for a long time.
But seriously, a conference call?