Starbucks, if you are my third place, kill me now –
I can’t recall the exact day, but I missed Live 8, Bob Geldof’s second coming. One summer day in 2005, as the Boomtown Rats “cocked it up by singing I don’t like Mondays, I, a college student, “crafted” lattes, cappuccinos, and those frappuccinos for Starbucks. Never the wiser that some seventeen years later, I would be back in the green apron under the Siren’s watchful gaze.
I, the graduate student, continued through a Bachelor’s and Masters’s degree into positions of responsibility and respect, appreciation and apprehension – until the prospect of professional paramount became too nauseating to pursue – resulting in alcoholism and delusions of reality, sickening positions.
I always said, “If I could be a Barista and make a living…”
One day ground broke on a Starbucks within eyesight of the cell where I made my living.
Ecstatic – as if a call from God or a Siren’s song – I put in my application – quickly returned with a job offer – an offer I should have considered with a bit more caution.
To be back in the environment of third place- Awesome. The peace of an environment which allowed me to be who I am and share the love of coffee and kinship with all who entered – I was back in the green, ready to return to what I remembered before professional life attempted to kill me.
Howard Shultz was returning to his position just as I was returning to mine. We both, presumably, took a reduction in pay to find the spark and connection to people that made us both want to take the time in our day to fuze with those around us, the partners and customers, the fellow Baristas, the smiles, and celebrations.
I only assume that he felt the same reminiscence that I felt. At this point, I can only believe that Howard has found his Starbucks dead while relinquishing the reigns to the new CEO. The loyalty, appreciation, emotion, feel, coffee, mood, and the collection of all that was the third place are gone.
For those Partners who have chosen to strike and speak up, I applaud you – the expectations of those who control you are unrealistic and utterly ridiculous.
However, suppose Starbucks is your definition of a third place. In that case, the police should be called, CPS needs to be notified, and the meaning of love, understanding, and togetherness will have to be reevaluated in the Starbucks dictionary.