The employees Im about to quote shall remain anonymous and arent represented in this photo.
The Starbucks employees I'm about to quote shall remain anonymous and aren't represented in this photo. Mary Carmichael

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On my walk to work today, I decided to try and see what some Starbucks baristas thought about the prospect of their boss's boss's boss running for president of the United States. I blame Maureen Dowd for putting the thought in my head. According to Dowd, "potent friends of America’s lord of latte" are pressuring Starbucks' CEO to run for president.

But getting an answer from a barista was harder than you'd think.

At the first Starbucks I tried, a barista very kindly declined my request to ask her a question about a possible Schultz run: According to her, official policy states that employees can't talk to the press. All reporters must go through official Starbucks PR channels, which I always picture as an answering machine atop a stool in the middle of a cement room somewhere in Poland.

I called, left a message, sent an e-mail, and am still waiting for a reply.

The barista added that employees were especially not allowed to talk about politics. This surprised me, considering the company does want their employes to talk about politics sometimes, like when they did their #INDIVISIBLE hashtag thing ("It’s time to ask our leaders to put partisanship aside in search of real solutions"), or their more controversial #RaceTogether campaign earlier this year. (Starbucks employees can hardly spell people's names accurately, including "Rich Smith," so I'm not sure how they expected anyone to speak about hundreds of years of systematic oppression.)

Anyhoo. What about those Starbuckses in grocery stores? I skipped over to the Starbucks in the QFC grocery store near work, hoping rules there would be more forgiving. Not the case. If I wanted to talk to the QFC Starbucks baristas, I'd have to go through official QFC PR people, who probably had to go through official Starbucks PR people, to ask them if I could solicit a barista's opinion about the presidency of the United States.

I left a message with the QFC PR person and am still waiting for a response.

When my boss pointed out that he needed some coffee, I said we should go to that Starbucks Roastery Reserve and Castle and Moat with Crocodiles on Pike Street, and while I stood there, my boss made small talk with the people behind the counter. Because I now know that Starbucks has a million rules about who can say words when, I didn't even try to ask them anything, but I heard my boss say: "So how about Howard Schultz for president? Did you hear that?"

"Huh?" one employee said. "Really?"

"It was hinted in the New York Times yesterday."

"Really?" the person at the register said, and turned to the person behind the espresso machine. "Did you hear that?"

"Yeah, what do you think?" my boss said.

The person behind the espresso machine shrugged and smiled and said, "I would need to see his platform."