Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Coffee Drinkers, Disarm!

Maybe Howard Schultz figures that the only thing worse than a person with a gun in his stores is a person with a gun who is heavily caffeinated.

Schultz is the founder and CEO of Starbucks, birthplace of the $5 cup of coffee. And he's making a polite request.

Please, no guns in Starbucks.

Whatever happened to "No shoes, no shirt, no service"? I long for those days.

Now we have CEOs of national chains asking their customers to check the firearms at the door. Or, preferably, much further away than that.

It could be that Schultz thinks that someone might finally be driven over the edge for paying $5 for a cup of coffee, and that person is best when he/she is unarmed.

But seriously, folks...

Schultz made what I thought was an impassioned yet reasonable plea to his customers via open letter to very kindly leave their legal, registered weapons out of his Starbucks stores, in states that have "open carry" laws.

"Few topics in America generate a more polarized and emotional debate than guns." Schultz's letter says. "In recent months, Starbucks stores and our partners (employees) who work in our stores have been thrust unwillingly into the middle of this debate. That's why I am writing today with a respectful request that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas. From the beginning, our vision at Starbucks has been to create a "third place" between home and work where people can come together to enjoy the peace and pleasure of coffee and community."

Schultz goes on to say that he doesn't want people to consider his request as anything more than that---a request. 

"...we want to give responsible gun owners the chance to respect our request—and also because enforcing a ban would potentially require our partners to confront armed customers, and that is not a role I am comfortable asking Starbucks partners to take on."

Read the above paragraph again. 

Schultz is asking for folks to keep the guns out of the stores because he doesn't want a college-aged barista named Jessica to take on armed customers on a daily basis. I'm sure the unarmed ones are bad enough, especially during the morning rush.

What if the drink isn't prepared just right?

I'm not being flip, I'm being real. But Schultz's request is both enamoring and disturbing.


Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz


It's enamoring because he truly does appear to be looking out for his employees, and he doesn't want Starbucks thrust unwillingly into the polarizing gun debate, which it has been in the past thanks to pro-gun demonstrations that have used Starbucks as a gathering spot.

But it's also disturbing because it's yet another reminder that we are gradually but surely moving toward a society that would return us to the days of the Old West.

You know, when everyone was packing heat and everyday the local saloon was an insult away from a barroom brawl and shootout breaking out.

Starbucks isn't an insignificant player here. I don't have the numbers, but in case you haven't noticed, there's pretty much a Starbucks within a stone's throw of each other. They're becoming as omnipresent as McDonald's.

So when the CEO of Starbucks asks that those toting guns (legally, of course) please refrain, that's not just a blip on the screen.

It will be interesting to see which company's CEO will be next to make a request similar to Schultz's, now that Schultz has made it.

Schultz feels that his customer base can withstand those who might cease to frequent Starbucks because they can't place their pistol on the table next to their scone. You have to have some deep pockets to take a stand sometimes.

No doubt that Schultz won't be the Lone Ranger, so to speak. Another CEO will follow his lead. Then another. And the polarizing gun debate will get even more wacky.

As if.

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