Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
You could tell this was coming.
All you had to do is open your eyes and see what was going on.
Starbucks customers were abusing the system and making a mockery.
The staff, too, weren't all that happy about selling something that, frankly, made a mess.
No, I'm not talking about the infiltration of the colorful and pointless Frappuccino.
Instead, I've been disturbed by something I thought I had a few more days to enjoy.
As my colleague Bill Murphy Jr. recently revealed, Starbucks stopped selling newspapers at the end of August.
Any newspapers. All newspapers.
My local Starbucks did it a week ago. Just like that, with no announcement.
The staff removed the rack upon which the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle had perched.
Suddenly, the place seems devoid of a fundamental design element.
Please forgive me, but I've been attached to newspapers since I was a child.
They kept me away from other humans first thing in the morning, which was a benefit to both sides.
There's something about a newspaper's smoothness, the physical feel of a paper meticulously prepared, the columns written by the witty and the angry.
It was an essential and formative part of my morning experience.
I don't want to have to go to the wide-open web. I first want to bathe gently in a little physical curated locality.
I'd go to Starbucks, pick up my Grande Almond Milk Latte and my Chronicle and repair back home, ready to read about the San Francisco Giants' latest frustrating performance or learn which local council had banned the word manhole.
Or, Good Lord, sister.
Starbucks stopped selling papers because customers would steal them. Worse, they'd sometimes read them without paying and then toss them back onto the rack.
Some would leave them strewn about the restaurant because, hey, at Starbucks you can do anything you want, right?
Now, it's all gone and the transition has been painful.
I know I have choices. I can buy my coffee, then go elsewhere to buy a paper.
There's a nearby CVS, for example, or a local supermarket.
But that's two trips and, all too often, my pathetically irritable morning mind isn't up to that.
I could also have the paper delivered, but then I'd have to go online anyway to cancel delivery whenever I'm out of town.
And when it rains, the paper gets tossed onto the driveway and is soaking wet by the time you get up.
So I've tried to resist buying a paper at all. I've tried to tell myself that I must become at one with the new world.
After all, I'm sure I could get the same information on the Chronicle's website.
But I don't want to have a purely virtual relationship with the Chronicle. I don't want to treat it like every other virtual entity. I want to tuck it under my arm, bring it home and make things a little more personal.
Still, removing the Chronicle from my life has made me consider the real truth.
I bought it for the sports pages. And the Friday movie reviews by the extraordinary Mick LaSalle.
That was it.
Yes, there were other elements -- such as the local news section and the entertainingly bloviating cynicism of former mayor Willie Brown -- that occasionally gave pleasure.
But it had become a habit, one that I never questioned and one that I always (told myself) enjoyed.
Even when I realized that the paper might be shrinking and the number of writers wasn't exactly expansive anymore.
There remain two questions.
One, can I continue to live without a physical Chronicle?
And two, will this give me a reason not to go to Starbucks anymore?
Perhaps that, too, has become just one of those habits, one that I should begin to examine in depth.
Perhaps I only ever went to Starbucks for the Chronicle.
The human mind is sad and twisted, isn't it?