The tale of two Starbucks green aprons
I am reading “How Starbucks Saved my Life” by Michael Gates Gill with great interest and a good deal of empathy. I am marking Starbucks 50th anniversary by attempting to read other books on Starbucks that focus on the baristas, and not the business. My novel, Tripio, does that brilliantly. I had not choice however, since I began my career there as a barista. How was published in 2007. Tripio in 2018. Tripio takes place at Starbucks in 1992, and How in and around 2007. The years between 1992 and 2007 represent almost unimaginable change in the small barely regional company for which Jay Altonstreet put on the green apron. Since Jay in Tripio actually started in 1990 the contrast is even more telling.
Starbucks expands headquarters in Seattle.
Unveils Starbucks Mission Statement.
Total stores: 84
Eliminates all artificial trans fat and makes 2 percent milk the new standard for espresso beverages.
Opens stores in: Denmark, the Netherlands, Romania and Russia.
Total stores: 15,011
See what I mean? But the numbers can not do much more than look back at you. If you closely though you will clearly see both Tripio and How.
“That’s the way we do things at Starbucks”
The company experienced by Jay in Tripio and M.G.G. in how would seem to be worlds apart. The company they each experienced was different. The protagonists in each book could not be more dissimilar. The books are told in a way reflecting these distinctions. The unification comes from the fact that the two books are each telling one person’s unique story while working at Starbucks. I wrote Tripio in large part to release the experience of the Starbucks years. I worked there during the Starbucks IPO and left a million dollars behind when I took off my coffee stained green apron for the last time. MGG “felt numb” at the prospect of starting his job at Starbucks, already a global corporation.
How is the story of how MGG undergoes change, transformation ands personal growth. Gill admits to a lot of his faults in How and tells how their consequences led to him working at Starbucks. Jay’s story is similar in that I wrote him the intent of keeping in all of his faults. He is selfish, convinced he is unique, and wants to do with his life want exactly what he wants to do, even if it means hoping for a mis-carriage for a child he has fathered. His faults contribute to him leaving leaving a million dollar IPO payoff behind when he quits Starbucks.
Tripio and How by their nature must also include baristas as major figures in their respective tales. For MGG it is his hiring manger, Crystal. For Jay that person it is a barista named Kati. Tripio features characters based on dozens of real life baristas and store managers who day to day, latte by latte built the Starbucks MGG went to work for. His baristas and managers work to improve on what the people in Jays’ time created.
The two tables of figures above made me say “Damn, look at that.” How and Tripio due their part in telling the numbers story also. I am finding How worth reading so far because like Tripio, it tells the equally important story of the real, actual people behind those numbers. Writing this now, many years later, I miss the crews I worked with. Those days at Starbucks still vibrate in my person, still resonate in my mind. Hence books and novels that tell the stories of real people, not numbers, money and data. How and Tripio tell the equally, if not more, compelling story of what happens after the tills for the the day have been counted, after that stupid green apron is untied and thrown in the dirty laundry bag on the way out the door.