I wore a T-shirt I bought in Vienna with a corruption of the Starbucks logo that said Austrian Beer instead, that turned the fins on the siren into bottle openers and replaced the face in the middle with a pilsener glass, and it got the attention of the Best Buy associate who asked what it’s like there, I heard they have snakes in the toilets — and we searched the clearance rack to see if they still had iPhone 4 cases, he was surprised that’s what I needed, and when I left it seemed I was the only one in the store, I could probably find one on Amazon instead.
It used to piss me off when I worked for Starbucks that people would do that to the logo (like who do they think they are and why do we let them get away with it), but after some time I realized why, we’d look like some big corporate giant if we went after them, and how much time and energy it takes to pretend you’re not something you really are, how your success can turn you into someone else, just as much as your failures.
I met my friend Steve in Issaquah at an indie coffee shop but after waiting 10 minutes decided he wasn’t going to show up, and took notes on the look of the place instead: they had a La Marzocco espresso machine, the same as the ones I used in the 90s in the cafes where I worked, the same type Starbucks used before they switched over to more automatic versions, where you push a button to dispense the espresso rather than run it through a portafilter — and it was like going back in time watching the barista with the blue dish rag draped over the counter and the tamper set there, using the tamper to press the grounds in the portafilter basket, the sound of all the fans on the refrigerators rattling, all the noise of people coming and going, waking up, the regulars, laminated pastry tags, Helvetica font.
And for the first few days it felt intensely unnatural being at home in my mother-in-law’s house, where my wife Dawn grew up and moved here in the 80s — and I couldn’t help think of Eberhard at my mom’s, the fact he was always busy doing something around the house, why that was, and maybe I could learn something from him.
So I set about doing things like taking out the trash, cutting the grass, the laundry: I resigned myself to it, found pleasure in it, but sometimes made a show of it so it wouldn’t go unnoticed, so that part of me that felt insecure could be soothed through acknowledgment, that what I was doing was important, for however much it didn’t feel that way.
I started making intricate, time-consuming salads that required a lot of fine dicing. Dawn said I could probably fix the problem with my voicemail by looking it up online but I chose to go into the store instead, to talk face-to-face with the associates, which is always better, or should be — and maybe it’s because it’s the weekday, but everywhere I go it seems the stores are empty, like Amazon has them all on the run now, all of them in T-shirts announcing lower prices, or with bundle offers or coupons, loyalty specials — some of them seem startled when I come in, they all look up and say hi, and what’s brought you in today, like I’m someone special.
I couldn’t get voicemail, it said it was fetching the data but never resolved itself, and I just sat there refreshing it even though no one was leaving me messages, I just wanted it to work in case. I thought my friend Loren was playing pranks each time he called because I’d answer and say hello, and he’d say hello back, but then it would drop — and then I realized it was my phone case, which was warped and covering the speaker where the voice goes, and it was time for a new one, but you can only get them for the 5’s or the 6 the girl said, you might try Best Buy.
And now that I’ve decided to go without a case it feels like I have a new phone, it’s slimmer and shiny in the back, looks just like the new models as far as I can tell, I just have to be careful with it. There will come a time these old phones are cool again, just like everything else, and we’ll probably be able to find them for sale anywhere we want, online.