Friday, August 7, 2009

Lunch-Time Conversations

There are some occasions that seem to be random but really aren’t. They may start off by recurring intermittently but given enough time become daily activities. One such occasion is something I eagerly await every day, and it happens around noontime. Oftentimes I will get off work and have approximately half an hour to kill before I make the trek to my next job. During this timeframe there are 2 customers who visit us on their lunch breaks to sip on coffee or tea.

My interactions with these 2 middle-aged gentlemen began by sitting down on one of the comfy chairs adjacent the three other comfy chairs. It seems to be their custom to invite those rambunctious enough to participate in with their conversations. I was invited to one of their conversations and the tradition has continued for a month now. Each of us brings a book that we are presently reading – which is a commonality that cannot be overlooked. In fact, the desire for learning, reasoning with one another, even debate is something we all share. Most of all, we each have a strong desire for good conversation.

Earlier in the week I was able to briefly share some thoughts from the biography about Jimmy Carter, but ended up learning a great deal from these men who lived through the 70’s.

Movie recommendations are also an integral part of our dialogue each day. On Monday they mentioned two films that are, according to them, classics and a “must see.” The first is “The Avengers,” followed by “Glenn Gary, Glenn Ross.” Yesterday they were anxious to see if I had made time to watch both the films. I chuckled and told them that I’d order them this weekend.

Customers like these make my time at Starbucks completely worthwhile, and this is precisely the kind of “third place” environment we are famous for providing as a company. This is why we have succeeded as a coffee and tea shop while others have failed. There is something about meeting friends, family or even strangers to talk about what is most important to you. The closest resemblance in history seems to be the Salons (not for hair) in France leading up to the French Revolution. People would gather to discuss and debate social, political and religious ideas.

I hope that I might act as salt and light to these men, choosing my words carefully because I represent the God of the universe.


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