A boomer's frothy ode to Starbucks
<b>A boomer's frothy ode to Starbucks</b> Michael Gates Gill was accustomed to things going his way. The son of <i>New Yorker</i> writer Brendan Gill, he spent his childhood summers at a lovely country house, attended Yale, and, with help from his connections, landed a job at a prestigious ad agency. Though Gill routinely missed family milestones to tend to work-related tasks, he was fired after 25 years when a new team took over the company. He tried to make a go of it as a consultant; indeed his previous book, <i>Fired Up! The Proven Principles of Successful Entrepreneurs</i>, addresses the transition from a corporate job to self-employment. By age 63, however, he was nearly broke, looking for a place to live (after a divorce due to his extramarital affair), and in need of health insurance, as he admits in his latest book, <b>How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else</b>.
Which is when he found Starbucks, or rather it found him. One desolate day, Gill filled out an application and was hired to work in a Manhattan store. He shamefacedly donned a green barista's apron and entered a world in which he was a minority: His colleagues were African-American and decades younger, and he was the least skilled person in the room. Gill becomes adept at his new job; along the way, he muses on his breathtakingly biased former self: Race, social class, age you name it, he condescended about it from his former position at the top of American society as a member of the Ruling Class. By memoir's end, the reader will have learned much about life as a barista, from company policy to coffee tastings. Gill compares his plight to that of baby boomers nationwide, and reflects on his new perspective. Some readers may find elements of the book hard to swallow Gill's wonderment at his scrappy young coworkers is patronizing and his devotion to another large corporation cloying, especially considering his insistence that he is a changed man. This barista's story ends on an up-note, though; he transfers to a Starbucks near his apartment in a tony suburb, and has a movie in development with Tom Hanks as the lead. It does seem as if his Starbucks job gave Gill new hope; it will be interesting to see if he remains a barista, and whether he retains the lessons he learned as a Starbucks employee. <i>Linda M. Castellitto once worked as a barista. Her favorite task: manning the drive-through window.</i>