The Logical Philosopher

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Starbucks Social Gap Theory

I sat, and unknowing observed. Tazo Brambelberry over crushed ice will do that, if you are not paying attention. After some time the patrons became a blur. Then, slowly, the blur crystallized into two clear groups.

The first group passed me as they entered the store to order their morning drinks. Businessmen dressed in Hugo Boss shoes, Armani silk ties and other Italian named suits. With their cell phones and Blackberry in one hand, they shifted the papers under the other arm to accommodate their freshly brewed coffee. I didn't get the impression any of them would be impacted by the upcoming price increases for their latte next month. The women, also dressed for success, mostly opted for espresso - low fat milk with no whip of course. The standard attire for the day started with the eyes hidden behind large designer sunglasses. For dress it was either black skirts and top, or black pinstripe pant suits, both options contained between dyed blond hair in a bun and stiletto heels. Many sat together, nobody alone for more than a moment, their animated gestures and laughter open for everyone to see and hear.

The second group straggled in slowly, clutching McDonalds coffee in one hand, the other busy searching out discarded cigarette buts. They each sat at the outdoor tables, alone, with their Zig-Zag paper, making a new cancer stick of out of the discarded few. There is less to write about them because they moved as such. No designer clothes. No laughter. No discussion. Just survival.

As I sat I realized that something and somewhere as simple as a Starbucks visit can exemplify the social gap that is prevalent in any city. I'm sure they don't advertise that in the franchise materials.

The Starbucks Social Gap Theory: only the wealthy need apply.
When I was leaving two young business men strolled in, one grabbing a seat while the other headed into the coffee shop. "Hey, Mike, want a latte?" the first called out over his shoulder.

His business partner cocked his head to one side and thought for a moment. "Nope. Caffeine is bad for you, grab me a juice instead please." Then, he pulled out a pack of cigarettes and proceeded to light up.

An addendum to my Starbucks Social Gap Theory - A prerequisite for being in the first social tier is not intelligence.