I’ve found myself working in Starbucks way too many times recently and the sociologist buried deep inside of me took note of my surroundings. Working in Starbucks, means that the minimum amount of time I spend here at any one time would be about 2 hours. That’s a lot of time to people watch.
For some reason, my fellow countrymen have turned this space into “the place” to be. When I first came here after the launch, I thought the crowds were just because of the novelty of the place, and it would wear off. Months later and it’s become a place for liming. I saw men meet here after work to catch up like if they were at Brooklyn Bar (loud laughter and talking included). I’ve seen families, children included, come here like it’s a special family outing, as if they were going to dinner at TGIF or Pizza Hut. And all the while, I sit at my laptop, baffled. How did this happen? Why is this happening?
When did coffee become a family outing?
Kudos to the franchise for making everyone feel at home in their space, but I thought a coffee shop was for adults to purchase coffee (and other beverages) and conduct meetings and work quietly (on the free WiFi). That’s what happens at Rituals. That’s what happens at all the other Starbucks I’ve been to in other countries. What makes this different? Are we as a country so desperate for entertainment spaces that anything new and shiny we will turn into chaos and make it our own, just because it exists? Is that it? (Let’s not talk about the bathrooms!)
As I type this (in Starbucks, MovieTowne), there is a baby screaming, a group of teenagers liming and taking selfies, and many groups of smaller conversations creating a loud, muffled buzz. And this is a quiet night. Maybe I’m just a bitter, cynical introvert who was just looking for a space to call “office”. Maybe I should look for a library or just stay at home. Maybe I’m just being Trini, and complaining as usual. But I find this new culture too interesting not to mention. I’m determined to figure out the why. Maybe it will lead to acceptance.