Give Me Your Bucks

Campbell River, BC---Just as the I-Ching provides answers about the meaning of life, Starbucks reveals who we are beneath our homogenized surfaces.

Throw yourself out into the world like a rune, and which Starbucks shows up? The answer will tell you much about where you are and possibly who you are, as well.


Cambiebucks? Burbucks? Commercialbucks? Nobucks?

For me, the journey through Starbucks in the past twenty-four hours had spanned broader Bucks than those located in the Vancouver city limits.

I'd ordered my bargain-basement short at Manhattan Starbucks on Amsterdam Avenue only the day before.

I found myself at Vancouver Airport Bucks that same afternoon. Now, less than twenty-four hours later, the friendly Campbell River Give-Me-Your-Bucks and I'll-Give-You-Happiness Starbucks greeted me with its friendly round corporate logo hanging from an awning done in a First Nations motif.

Although the awning differed here in Campbell River, I went inside knowing that everything else would be the same, the chairs, the tables, the products, even the warm greeting from the "barista."

They would speak Starbucks to me. Small would mean tall.

But I don't have to tell you that! You probably go there yourself.

As of August 2006, Starbucks had 6,750 company-operated outlets worldwide: 5,393 of them in the United States and 1,357 in other countries and U.S. territories.

In addition, the company had 5,034 joint-venture and licensed outlets, 2,952 of them in the United States and 2,082 in other countries and U.S. territories.

This brings the total locations (as of September 1, 2006) to 11,784 worldwide

The same happy-looking customers, dazed by the ecstasy-producing effects of caffeine can be found just about everywhere, seated around the same tasteful-tables reading newspapers.

Okay, the customers weren’t as sophisticated or tense as the Manhattan customers, and the Campbell River paper isn’t the New York Times, but it still offered the comfort of a familiar road walked down many times before.

Enter a Sbucks and you don’t have to think about where you’re placing your feet. You've done it before? You know the routine.

I felt manipulated by this virtual sense of comfort, because I know Campbell River isn't Manhattan, but not enough to get a coffee from the Kozy Kitchen.

I’d done my short the day before when coming into Vancouver International airport,. After deplaning from an Air Canada red eye from Manhattan, I slipped off to imbibe a Sumatra before hailing a taxi. That short changed my day. Before, I was feeling tired and crabby. I’d gotten up at 4:30 a.m. to make the 7:30 flight. I’d forgone caffeine in the hope of getting an airborne nap.

It made sorting out all my cosmetics in the security line and putting them into a plastic bag when my eyelids were still glued together a near impossible task. And then came the longest security lines I’d ever stood in.

I’d had to unzip my boots and balance them along with my backpack and my purse without looking like a complete idiot before the dignified representatives of Homeland Security, all the time trying to hide the holes in my socks. Bad planning.

And then, I’d endured the extra half hour wait to be sure the bird that flew in the engine last night wasn’t still there, and then the six hour flight to Vancouver, without the help of Starbucks. So when I saw the round Starbucks emblem with the noble mermaid at the center, I dragged over to it with my last reserve of energy, blinking to focus on the sign. I was so tired.

I drank my short and everything changed.

Ideas burst into my head like fireworks over False Creek. Ideas for novels, screenplays, hilarious titles. I can’t remember any of them because I didn’t have a pen to record these flashes of genius, but I remember their brilliance.

I triple tasked, getting into a taxi, managing all my gear more efficiently than ever, while staving off the flirtatious advances of the driver, and making an appointment on my cell phone to see a friend for lunch the next day.

Ah, the ferry has arrived. Cars drive off, making a boom as they cross over the connector between the ferry and the dock. A Wonder bread truck with goofy bubbles slides up the drive.

Remember the days when Wonder Bread ruled? I don’t, but I hear they were simpler times, back when folks thought of coffee as a beverage reserved for and prepared in the home.

All manner of rural vehicles drove off the ferry and folks inside the vehicles wore the dour expressions of folks who have spent too much time in rural isolation.

Just where Starbucks steps in. Welcome back to the city.

Pick a city. Any city.

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