Satire | A Night in the Starbucks Zone

By Allison Dantinne, Senior Staff Columnist

Editor’s note | This column was originally mislabeled as opinion. It was written intentionally as satire.

The Starbucks inside Amos Hall is now open 24 hours, open to the night and all its splendors, offering a PSL deep into the Oakland void. But what really happens during these previously clandestine hours? What has Starbucks been hiding from us between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., besides worn-out employees? It’s time for me to find out so you don’t have to. It’s time for me to enter the Starbucks Zone.

11:00 p.m. I went home to eat pasta after my meeting, missing the first two hours of Starbucks investigating. I was hungry. I ate leftover ravioli. I will not buy a Protein Box. I am not sorry. 

11:03 p.m. The man next to me cracks open a can. I glance over at my own Dunkin’ iced coffee, wondering if there are other dissenters sitting in this storefront. 

11:04 p.m. It is a Starbucks Doubleshot canned beverage, best known from all-nighters on the fourth floor of the library. I sigh, attempting to avoid eye contact. I am the only member of the resistance.

11:11 p.m. Make a wish. I wish not to be taken by the ghost of Captain Starbuck. If I am pulled into the spiritual realm, I wish for there to be no witnesses. No one else should suffer at my hand.

11:38 p.m. I just saw a person wrap their hands around another person’s neck and yet felt there was no tension between the two.

11:39 p.m. They just kissed, so there truly is no tension. That’s the power of this Starbucks at work.

11:49 p.m. Freshly ground coffee beans  is the only pure scent in the world — I cannot be convinced otherwise.

12:07 a.m. I moved from the long, wooden counter in the front to the padded seats in the back. The man next to me drinks from a Camelbak backpack. On his small table he has a large laptop, a gaming controller plugged into said laptop and is charging his portable charger while simultaneously using the portable charger to charge his phone. He wears a visor indoors at night. He fascinates me.

12:09 a.m. A barista calls out “Chris Angel,” as though there is no magic to that name.

12:27 a.m. I finish my Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee and order my first Starbucks iced coffee of the night.

12:35 a.m. “You’re more dramatic than me.” “Nuh-uh.” “When someone tells you to mop, you cry.” I understand.

12:58 a.m. I cross in front of a chalkboard with a picture of SpongeBob SquarePants, who holds a cup of coffee, claiming that you can now order coffee at night. One step ahead of you, my little porous friend.

1:07 a.m. The music of the Starbucks seems to have lyrics, but I cannot figure them out. I imagine if I worked here, I would have ample time to understand what this establishment sings to me.

1:08 a.m. I imagine if I worked here, I would also understand why whenever I try to make a chai latte at home, it ends up gritty, all the chai syrup sinking to the bottom, leaving me drinking almost-spicy milk in my modernism lecture.

1:15 a.m. After two hours of alternating between classroom readings and hard-hitting journalism, I allow myself to watch an episode of “Parks and Recreation.” More specifically, “The Comeback Kid.”

1:38 a.m. I now sing “get on your feet … get up, and make it happen,” quietly, to myself and the man across from me, who I believe has been asleep for at least the past couple hours, while I attempt to read. I am an excellent multi-tasker.

1:43 a.m. I continue to stare at the same line in “The Casual Vacancy,” unable to continue reading. My brain feels highly flammable.

1:50 a.m. Various Google searches, such as “are brains flammable” and “can you set your brain on fire” bring up only scientific articles about inflammation and what looks to be an indie film from 2012. I now think scientists should light a brain on fire, just to see if it’ll catch flame and burn up.

1:55 a.m. I allow myself to watch another episode of “Parks and Recreation.”

3:09 a.m. I watched three episodes. I can hardly hear my laughter anymore. I think the tiled walls and neutral tones of the Starbucks absorbed my voice.

3:10 a.m. I wonder if anyone can hear you scream in the Starbucks. I dare not try it.

3:14 a.m. My back is stiff against the wooden bench. The man with the Camelbak and the gaming controller doesn’t seem to mind the stiffness.

3:38 a.m. I, for the first time in my 21 years of life, crave a pumpkin spice latte.

3:40 a.m. No, I do not want it.

3:40 a.m. I don’t even like pumpkin.

3:42 a.m. After much reasoning, I realize that I do, however, like spice.

3:47 a.m. I order the pumpkin spice latte.

3:48 a.m. The pumpkin spice latte is just fine.

4:12 a.m. A brownie may not be a real breakfast, but it feels like the most real thing in this store right now.

4:30 a.m. Nothing happens at the Starbucks at night. It’s just my brain thinking of more ways to distract itself from its lonely existence up there in my skull.

4:33 a.m. Is consciousness nothing more than your brain entertaining itself?

4:48 a.m. I reach out for the glass window beside me, fully understanding that it is glass and yet also hoping I have the power to reach through it, to touch the air brushing past the Starbucks, slipping into the night like blackened silk between my fingers.

5:00 a.m. I leave the Starbucks with the intention of buying a bagel and taking a nap, longing for the whirling of my box fan to lull me into a fitful and likely very sweaty sleep.

Allison Dantinne primarily writes satire and humor for The Pitt News. Write to Allison at [email protected]