021 - Starbucks Screens 021 - Starbucks Screens 021 - Starbucks Screens
021 - Starbucks Screens

My last year in high school and a few years through college, I worked at Starbucks. It was a pretty great job as far as customer service went. My town happened to have one of the first Starbucks’ with a hot-food oven and a drive-through.

My coworkers would put me on the drive-through window regularly. The radio made my voice much deeper than it actually was and I had a habit of drawing out and breathing deep into my words: “Heyyyyy there.” For a lot of folks coming through the drive-through, the voice and the person they met at the window didn’t match at all. Some coworkers joked that I sounded like a sex-line operator. “Hiiiiiiii…. What can I get for youuu?”

I thought it was pretty funny and leaned into it. Even today – especially today, with all of our Zoom calls – I still get coworkers who say that I make a disembodied voice on a computer line sound oddly reassuring and warm.

Anyway, this story has nothing to do with the error state. Even though I try to frequent mom-and-pop shops and local cafes whenever possible, I don’t mind stopping by a Starbucks out of some personal nostalgia to observe how they have changed. And once you leave a city’s limits, almost every one of them has a drive-through.

But those screens! I’m not sure who manufactures them but across the entire country I find drive-through screens with odd but consistent weathering patterns like a fungal infection that targets only a specific type of LCD. I’ve seen it in Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, California, the Dakotas, and New Jersey. I wonder if the vendor from whom they buy these screens is aware of the problem? Many other company’s drive-throughs I’ve seen are just a radio and a billboard. The billboard still weathers, but it’s easier to replace the posterboard inside.