“Let’s meet at Starbucks.”

Infamous words when planning many first-time meetings.

Why do we do it? Why Starbucks?

Here are a few explanations/arguments (and rebuttals) that come to mind:

1) We’re all 

addicted to coffee?

No. I see people in Starbucks all time who don’t even go near the counter – much less order a Venti cup of anything. (Because of cost-cutting measures in my household, I actually bring my coffee that I brewed at home.)

2) It’s a WiFi Hotspot?
Very nice feature, but even McDonald’s even has WiFi now.

3) It’s chic?
It used to be, but now it’s more of a cliché.

4) There is one around every corner?
Very true, but please refer to Point No. 2 (and make sure you pay attention to my argument below)

5) The music?
Please….all you have to do is log-on to Pandora and type in Duffy Rockferry and you’ll be good to go.

By no means am I passing judgment. I’m the first guy to throw out those 4 ½ words: “Let’s meet at Starbucks.”

I’m just looking for a little clarity with a couple rhetorical questions.

There is one more explanation/argument that DOES need to be addressed, though…

6) It’s conveniently easy?
Ummmmm…..negative, good buddy!

To a certain degree, I can buy No. 1 through No. 5, but “easy” is the last adjective I would use to describe the Starbucks’ meeting experience.

NOTE: I’m not talking about meeting your college roommate or sister, I’m talking about first-time encounters – whether it’s business related or someone you met on plentyoffish.com.

It’s the simple things that make the Starbucks’ meeting experience so difficult…like which Starbucks are we actually talking about? (This really happened to me and a reporter for the Fort Worth Business Press – no one to blame, just miscommunication.)

If you live in Fort Worth, like me, don’t EVER say the Starbucks on Hulen – THERE ARE FIVE!

If you live in any other metropolitan city in the United States of America – pick a major street and you’ll run into the exact same predicament.

That’s an easy fix, though – just pick an obscure landmark near your desired location. (FYI: The more obscure the better.)

Figuring out who you’re supposed to be meeting can be the convenience killer. (Not to mention a potential powder keg of embarrassment.)

I will say this: It SHOULD be easy, but the phrase “Let’s meet at Starbucks” MUST be followed by something along these lines:

• “…I’ll have the 80-pound Weinheimer with a yellow cardigan on.”

• “…I’ll be wearing my butt-less chaps and a rhinestone tiara.”

• “…I’ll be practicing my downward facing dog next to the travel mugs.”

When I was interviewing to be a Big through Big Brothers Big Sisters, this lack of communication reared its Grande head.

I arrived a little early and did the “Starbucks Scan,” looking for anyone who might fit the profile of a BBBS interviewee. (Whatever that looks like.) During this scan, you also look for anyone not hiding behind their laptop, random eye-contact, and/or the slightly opened mouth that MIGHT actually utter your name.

If you’re on the receiving end of this “scan,” you’re looking for squinty eyes and then a nod of the head with raised eyebrows. Again, the slightly opened mouth about to pronounce the first letter of your first name is a dead give away.

Anyway, after I concluded that my appointment had not arrived, I posted up near the front door. (This is where you have “personal scans” with every single person that walks through the door. Talk about awkward – just a lot of random eye gestures and slight movements of the mouth to perfect strangers.)

This went on for 20 minutes – our scheduled meeting time had come and gone. (“Am I at the right Starbucks?”)

Finally, a young lady walked in – started a “Starbucks Scan” of her own – and I went for it:

ME: “Are you Stephaine?”

LADY (slightly relieved): “Yes.”

ME (very relieved): “Hi. I’m Drew. Can I get you a coffee?”

small talk, small talk, small talk

LADY (after placing her order): “My mom is probably going to show up soon.”

ME (a little confused): “OK…umm….I’d love to meet her.”

ME (after the cashier took my $8.26): “Is your mom just going to be in the area?”

LADY: “Oh, she’s interested in insurance, too.”

ME (uncomfortably giggling and flashing a confused smirk): “What are you talking about? Insurance?”

LADY (laughing): “Stop it! Everybody in Texas is such a kidder. I think it’s….”

ME (interrupting – not giggling): “Seriously, why are you here?”

LADY (reaching for her coffee and still laughing): “Such kidders…”

ME: “Are you with Big Brothers Big Sisters?”

LADY (stopping in mid-laugh): “What? No.”

ME: “I’m supposed to be meeting with Stephanie from Big Brothers Big Sisters.”

LADY (starring blankly with her coffee inches from her lips)

After several seconds of awkward fumbling – obviously replaying the last three minutes in our heads – we laughed about it.

Then, a gentleman with raised eyebrows and a slightly opened mouth approached.

“Stephaine?” he asked. “I’m Johnny Soandso from Soandso Insurance.”

The relief in that lady’s eyes was priceless – mainly because she got a one-way ticket out of Awkwardville.

Before they walked away, though, I told Johnny Soandso that he owed me for her coffee. Since he didn’t know – and/or care – about the uncomfortable situation we just lived through, he shrugged it off and scurried off to sell some insurance.

That’s not where the story ends, though, because I was still missing MY Stephanie.

Once again, I thought to myself: “Am I at the wrong Starbucks?”

Then, my phone rang.

ME: “This is Drew.”

CALLER: “Drew, this is Stephanie with Big Brothers Big Sisters. I’m at Starbucks…”

ME (interrupting): “OK…which one?”

Come to find out, MY Stephanie had been using the exact same Starbucks as a satellite office for most of the afternoon – long before our scheduled appointment.

She was there when I walked through the door and right past her table.

She was there when I performed my initial “scan” AND countless number of “personal scans.”

She was sitting 20 feet from the front counter – right where the weird train collided with the wall of assumption.

ME (gritting my teeth): “Really?….I’m here too.”

Something HAS to be done so 

this never happens to anyone ever again.

Let’s set some rules and guidelines.

Let’s implement a check-in system at the front counter.

How about a kiosk to make crude signs, like we’re waiting on a flight that just landed at DFW Airport?

You know what…I think we should get together and talk about it….let’s meet at…I don’t know…what about McDonald’s?

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