Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I'm with the Skittles girl

I started a crap job in September. I thought it was going to be a good job, of course - the first non-publishing real job I've ever had - but it turned out to be the wrong choice. Now, after six months of crap-jobbing, I have developed a Starbucks problem.

I don't particularly like the coffee. But I've discovered that there is an iota of joy to be wrung from every single morning...if I buy a cup of coffee on the way in to work. The shop bustles with moms and kids and nannies running around, people quietly read at tables, new songs play on the speakers, and I find all those things to be soothing. Not sleepy soothing, but gird-your-loins and get ready for the suck-of-the-day-to-come soothing.

I angst about the cost of this Starbucks habit. I don't get a foofy coffee to lessen said angst - I do drip. So, $2.11 per grande cup of coffee. At that rate, for March alone, I would spend $46.42 on coffee. Which is a ridiculous sum of money for something I could make myself. Even more ridiculous for someone who works at a nonprofit, spent a year freelancing (read: being poor), and just got a salary cut. 

So I spend an inordinate amount of time working on its cost/benefit ratio. $2.11 per cup becomes $2 when you use their refillable mug. And I give 5 cents to Africa whenever I use their Starbucks Red card - $1.95 per cup. Add to that the free iTunes Tuesday (what was 99 cents, and I grab one for my husband), and my monthly coffee total comes down to $33 + a weensy bit of philanthropy.

I said I was angsting about this coffee habit.

Anyway. Today, I stumbled across this in the New York Times: apparently, with our economic world flushing down the toilet, people are looking to candy as a pick-me-up.
Since Piper Gray, 23, arrived in Manhattan from Memphis in September, she has lived on a tiny salary from a journalism internship and tries to remain optimistic about eventually landing permanent work, even though prospects look discouraging.

Beside two friends at Economy Candy on a recent Sunday afternoon, she sounded cheerful as she munched on mini Smooth ’N Melty nonpareils, joked about her addiction to Creme Eggs and scoffed at the merits of Swedish Fish. Candy has become her affordable escape.

“Apples and oatmeal only go so far,” she wrote later in an e-mail message. “It’s so tempting to pick up an 88-cent pack of Skittles as a little pick-me-up. So I won’t feel so deprived.”

And I realized that I do these little indulgences often. Buying a cup of coffee, having cheese and Hershey Kisses for dinner, buying crazy-colored shoes - I do all these things because, try as I might, I can't control my actual life. My job is crap, my health is precarious at best, and I'm constantly struggling for money. But I CAN buy a damned cup of coffee.

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