While I don't like the taste of Starbucks coffee (it tastes burned to me), I respect the company hugely for being the single largest provider of "third places" in the world.
And that's no small thing. Especially for women and minorities, who have not had many safe places to gather.
For example, if a woman is selling her laptop on Craigslist, where does she meet the buyer? In a parking lot? At a bar? At her home? At their home?
Every one of these ideas is absolutely horrible, for myriad patently obvious reasons.
"Let's meet at Starbucks." A safe, public place to meet, and have your transaction.
It's fascinating to think of, if one (like me) can get out of my white middle aged American male frame of reference, and look at the world through someone else's eyes and experience.
I think about Starbucks and the space they have created a LOT. Like, a couple of times every week. I have been to Starbucks on several different continents, islands, and countries, and seen the same experience around the world.
Fuck the coffee. Who cares about that? I'm utterly fascinated with what they have created, culturally, across the world. That fascinates me.
But when it comes to my "third place"? My privilege shines like a fucking beacon.
I can be comfortable anywhere, anytime.
I may go to dinner alone.
I may go to a bar, and just sit and be by myself for a while. Chat with the bartender. Or not.
I may go to a park with a book.
Or go for a drive in my car.
Because I am a while middle-aged American male, I can make myself comfortable anywhere.
A woman sitting alone at a bar? In a restaurant? In a park? She's a target for men.
Me? I'm just some dude who gets left alone.
So my "third place" is anywhere... because I am confident, comfortable in my skin, and privileged. While the privilege part sucks, because others don't have it, I am able to make use of it and be comfortable anywhere as my Third Place.
I'm kinda conflicted about that. A bit.