Borders Books Music Movies & Cafe
5 Oakway Ctr
I really like Borders. First of all, I appreciate that they seem to have started the whole megabookstore thing (Or maybe Fox Books was the first?). I really enjoy having a giant put-Meg-Ryan-out-of-business-bookstore AND a nice coffee shop in which I can read said books for free. I even learned over time to accept their Starbucks wanna-be, Seattle’s Best. But the Borders in Eugene definitely has some quirky things that bug me more than a little bit.
Here’s my first problem: the seating area in the Borders cafe at the Oakway Center is too small, too unorganized, and too filled with aged hippies and their Birkenstock-shod stinky feet. Every time I go there, the comfortable seat section (upholstered chairs) has at least one or two of these smell-meisters. And because the comfortable chair section is arranged in some sort of hippy-ish wigwam arrangement, the stinky appendages end up being no more than 18 inches away from my nose. Why can’t they line these chairs up like they do at other Borders? Why can’t they give us a little more space between chairs? The rigor mortis music CD section has three times as much floor space as the packed cafe area. How does that make financial sense? (Ignore my free book reading comment above)
Here’s my second problem: If you try to avoid the smelly toes section, and sit at one of the two-person tables, you quickly find that it too is not set up correctly. The two-person tables are all arranged in a tightly packed row similar to those annoying tourist-trap sidewalk coffee shops in Paris. Your shoulders are six inches away from your side neighbors. But even worse, you have no way to avoid looking deeply into the eyes of your diagonal neighbor/stranger and professing undying love. I can put up with this sort of arrangement in a Paris sidewalk cafe (“Je t’aime! Oh. Excuse me. I didn’t know you were also an American tourist in Paris.”), but at Borders in Eugene, this setup don’t cut it.
Here’s my third problem: The coffee shop always serves too slowly. So, of course, there is a long line. If you are like me, and you buy ground coffee and a book from time to time, you have to wait in that long line to pay…but then you have to wait in the regular cash register line to pay separately for your book! At every other Borders I have been to, you can pay for books and coffee products together at the cafe register, but for some reason, the Eugene Borders refuses to do this. Fascists!
By the way, you wanna know why the coffee shop line is so slow? Because the idiot senior managers of Seattle’s Best (probably working in cahoots with the idiots at Microsoft) require the cashier to input a special code for every single change to your standard drink. So if you order a tall double-shot decaf latte with non-fat milk, then the poor cashier has to enter three or four different mysterious codes to ring up your order. Of course, they can never remember those random numbers, so they have to look each one up on a non-handy chart and then either enter the code by hand or scan the bar code. What a ridiculous system (so ridiculous, they should add this to the next version of Vista)! The people who set up this system probably made an excellent argument supporting it with 100 PowerPoint slides (the evil hand of Microsoft again), but never actually tried it in the real world, i.e. their own damn coffee shops.
So, end result, Borders Eugene usually gets a pass from me except in cases where they send me a 30% discount coupon. I’ll call it a 2.5 star result from my typically 4.5 star friend. I’ll bet Dave Chappelle could solve this problem if Tom Hanks were there to banter back and forth.