Monday, June 29, 2009

The Repentant Starbucks Fan

The other morning at Starbucks, I pulled up to the drive –thru’s intercom and placed my order. “One Venti iced Chai with light ice, one vanilla scone, and one Tall water.” The female voice on the other end responded, “No ice in the water because it’s for George, right, Shannon?” I couldn’t believe it! She couldn’t even see me; she just knew me by my voice and my order! This could mean several things: 1. I go to Starbucks way too often. 2. I need to get out of my rut and order something new. 3. My voice is so odd that everyone recognizes it.

While I definitely hate the fact that companies like Walmart and Starbucks often eliminate the local mom & pop businesses when they move to town, I must admit that I am a Starbucks fan. (As a disclaimer I must disclose that there is no other coffee shop near my house, so I’m not putting anyone out of business.)

Mainly, my local Starbucks gives me the much-needed sense of community that I miss in Las Vegas. And I really need it, because Vegas is an odd town. Most people here don’t know their neighbors, even though their houses are literally ten feet apart. People are very transient here, so you often don’t get much of a chance to know someone before they move on again. And almost no one was born here, so everyone comes from different backgrounds with different histories and different cultures. It’s difficult to find common ground to bring everyone together.

But at Starbucks, of all places, I feel a small-community vibe. They call me by name (just like on Cheers!) and when I sit outside with George, people stop and pet him and talk to me. Sometimes I peruse the front page of the New York Times and feel like I’m connecting with the real world. Sometimes I buy the CD that is playing inside, expanding my music repertoire to include world music, Jazz, or oldies. On the bulletin board inside are community notices where I can read about the next book club meeting, poetry contest, or swimming lesson.

I completely recognize the irony and cheesiness of the previous four paragraphs, and the sad state I’m in, if Starbucks represents so much to me. But for now it will have to do. I will walk in under that bright green awning and have Karen or Will call me by name and make me my regular drink, and I’ll feel more comfortable in, and connected to, the community I’m in. Someday maybe we’ll live somewhere where my neighbors and the community itself will give me that feeling. But for now, I’m a Starbucks fan.

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