I suppose Starbucks officially became a “mature” business when they started opening locations across the street from one another, but today’s story in the Wall Street Journal pretty much confirms it: They’re “improving” service by making the baristas work on no more than two drinks at a time, which will almost certainly mean longer lines. And you know customers will love this, because if there’s anything coffee drinkers are, it’s infinitely patient. Particularly at the morning rush.
I’d never heard the term “mature business” before my newspaper’s publisher used it during a meeting some years back. It refers to one that has reached the end of its growth curve — well-established, very likely fat and happy, but no longer growing in any significant way. The only way to increase profits in a mature business is to innovate or cut costs. In the newspaper business, which has been mature longer than Morley Safer, we innovated by larding the management level with assistant managing editors with more slashes in their title than there were discarded Starbucks cups in the trash cans, i.e. assistant managing editor/enterprise/trends/features/fashion. We were told there was an AME at the Philadelphia Inquirer whose job it was to read other publications all day, not to steal ideas but to just get that plugged-in feeling, so that s/he could be the newsroom oracle of the Zeitgeist. I never knew who this person was. Honk if you did.
We also cut costs. Relentlessly. One of my last acts as an employee was to steal a package of brass brads from the supply cubicle. It’s not like anyone used them, and there they were, the nice fat ones I couldn’t find at Office Depot. I figured it was the least I could do to thank them for all they’d done.
In other words, the A-team, the visionary bastards who built the newspaper industry, the Hearsts and Knights and the rest of them, had long since moved on, leaving the bean-counters in charge. I assume this is what’s happening at Starbucks, which probably, now that I think of it, has literal bean-counters on the payroll. The McDonald’s of dark-roast coffee needs to shoot itself in the foot, needs to move into its assistant-managing-editors-with-slashes period, evidently. This is how it does it. Good luck to you, Starbucks. This is why I order my triple espressos without any of that fancy shit, unless it’s a fourth shot of espresso. Because when I need my triple-e, I don’t want something with a pretty fern traced into the milk foam. Because I don’t want milk foam. I WANT COFFEE AND I WANT IT NOW.
Rescued Chilean miners: 11 down, 22 to go. I see a reality show spinoff in the future. “Survivor: Mineshaft,” maybe. One thing I don’t think I’ve seen in all the coverage: What sort of mine is this? Coal, ore, minerals? Does anyone know?
Coozledad’s bull, Llewd, was feeling poorly, seems better now. With pictures. Reading C’s accounts of treating the livestock at his vegetarian petting zoo always stirs the same reaction: 1) I miss my horse, followed by 2) I don’t miss my horse. What I miss: Riding him around and jumping fences. What I don’t miss: The staggering amount of work required to keep animals that size healthy, fed and confined. Llewd hurt his foot during his most recent escapade. Hurt foots require doctorin’, and you can’t put a bull in crossties and expect him to stand quietly, not with those horns. But such a cute face, and that poll just invites scratchin’. I send you a scratch from a long distance, Llewd.
This was yesterday’s talker, although most of the talking was me, asking questions: Dog returns to life after vet allegedly euthanizes it. Such as, where was the dog in the interim between the shot and the attempt at burial? Doesn’t this vet use a stethoscope? What, the guy walked out with a “dead” Rottweiler in his arms through the waiting room?
I bought a sweater late last summer at the Gap, and when I put it on this week I noticed it has the new logo on the label, now the old label. What am I bid for a knee-length white cotton coat-style cardigan, worn maybe three times? In true Gap fashion, it is already starting to fall apart at the seams. P.S. I liked the new label. Who are these people who have all fucking day to complain about a logo on their Facebook pages? I have some student copy I can subcontract to you to edit, if you’re interested.
Which is what I need to do now. So have a swell one, all, and thank your lucky stars you’re not a Chilean miner. Imagine being the last guy out.