I love Starbucks
I love Starbucks. Granted, I haven’t been inside a Starbucks for many years with the exception of the colossal swollen bladder incident of ’05. But I love what they have created. Now, for all the mistrustful anti-corporate “they’re taking over the world” types, I say take a chill pill. Not all multinational conglomerates are intrinsically evil. Okay so maybe I exaggerate, but that’s not the point. The point is that as a by-product of their greed they have done more to weave the new societal fabric than any other organization.
“Somebody unraveled the social fabric! Oh, my god. How come nobody told me?” Because it happened over time. Don’t worry, the mighty American way of apple pie and never telling a lie except when running for political office is still intact. But with that magnificent march of progress has come a massive if gradual change in the way we live our lives and eat our food. Thanks to the rise of cheap and easy transportation we can now live wherever we damn well please, thanks to Costco we can buy 30lb jars of pickles, and thanks to the internet I can order delicious foods from around the world and have them delivered to my door within five business days. Life is indeed grand. But along with all that progress came some nasty byproducts. We work longer hours, spend more time in traffic, and have less time for the simple family dinner. So despite having more foods, better recipes and lots and lots of credit cards the simple act of breaking bread and sharing a story has gone into remission in too many homes.
And then along comes Starbucks who basically reinvented the idea of the corner joint. God bless them. I could kiss Mr. Star and Mrs. Bucks right on their caffeinated lips. Suddenly it became fashionable to sit down, sip a cup of coffee and chat. Why is this so important? Because of what I call Andrew’s rule of Three. This rule states that every healthy person (and especially couples) needs three places 1) the home, 2) the office and 3) the corner joint. So when the corner joint got paved over by the mega mall we lost that third place where we could escape to get some perspective on the world. Combine that loss of place with a need to break through the tech-driven isolation barrier and there was human connection void just waiting to be filled. Starbucks came along with the sweet smell of beans brewing and the people rushed in and despite themselves started to bond. With that connection the art of simple story telling began to flourish.
As soon as the corner joint became popular again so too did Main Street. Restaurants opened up next to the coffee joints and whole strips that had gone into disrepair suddenly enjoyed new life. We are reaping those benefits from sea to shinning sea. As an added bonus the Starbucks revolution is getting us out of the mall. It not just that I have an exaggerated genetic inability to function within 1000 paces of a shopping mall, it’s that they were changing they way we interacted with community. That is until Starbucks made it cool to hang out at the corner joint again. Suddenly the Gaps of the world realized they were better off being on the town strip than being on the third floor of a florescent lit labyrinth designed to turn the average male into a ranting idiot (the average male being defined as me). Back in the era of the mall we had to drive to the edge of town to get our staples and we stopped running into the neighbors doing our daily errands. Unless a food court that you can only reach by driving to the other side of town, parking on the 18th floor and following a maze of escalators designed to exasperate even the most sanguine lab rat was your ideal for a quick bite, there was no place to meet a fellow human being for a few moments of simple contact.
And then Starbucks came along. So although I may pass by their open doors with a haughty swagger, I have to admit that the gourmet coffee house and nifty little neighborhood shops that I frequent probably would not exist had a Starbucks not opened up down the street. I love to sit in my local coffee shops and listen to people tell each other their stories. Sometimes they even invite me into their conversations. Connection to community is a good thing and thanks to Starbucks there is a place on a corner near you to meet your friends and neighbors and plan your next GreatGrub gathering.