I’ve got a new view this morning. I’m a bit farther down the beach at a new caffeine port. It’s a good choice. I may have a new home. I normally wouldn’t necessarily disclose the exact location at the risk of being accused of selling out to the man (or woman). However, this seems to be a place worth mentioning. My new Monday morning spot seems like it might be hereafter known as Pioneer Coffee Roasting Company. It seems to “have it all” at the moment. It’s got a view totally unobstructed by Metro. It has carefully pulled shots in my test choice of a caramel latte. It has a baby fireplace and the benefit of free wi-fi. It really doesn’t get much better than this. Howard was promising me some free wi-fi time in his recent Starbucks shakeup, but promising and delivering are two different concepts in my book. I’m not very patient, so the home has changed and so have the loyalties. Try as I might to resist this thought, I have come to the realization that I can be bought.
I’m in this for me after all. It’s a sobering check on reality, but in all honesty, when it comes to the coffee thing, it’s all about me. I think that the reason that I am attracted to places like this, as are others, is that in this environment, it is all about me…and others like me. I can tell just from a short interchange that my drink is important. There is pride here and a desire to establish connections that go beyond profit and bottom line. Now I’m not that naïve to think that these things don’t matter. They obviously do, but the focus is the person and the experience, which in turn leads to profit and bottom line. The order hasn’t yet been reversed. I don’t get the idea that they need a universal 3 hour closure and retraining to rediscover that. It is still fresh here. I imagine that this was once the case in just about every good idea gone to franchise.
Those closest to me can tell you about the disillusionment that has come with the dilution of the dreams of some of my most respected pioneers. Dave Thomas at Wendy’s comes to mind immediately. For years, Wendy’s was my stop o’ choice along the fast food freeway. Any reference to the “Golden Arches” brought to mind images of damnation and eternal torment. BK was only one plane up, residing as a sort of fast food purgatory. Each Wendy’s trip was close to a worshipful experience. But today, I can’t even remember my last time there. I do know that I put up with a few years of betrayal before finally separating myself from this destructive relationship. These places all began with a dream and an idea that was so much bigger than the individual. In the beginning of these dreams it was all about me and others like me. Then, over time, each of these lost their first love. Success can do that to us any of us if we’re not careful, if we lose sight of the dream.
Try as I might, I can’t shade the parallel of this progression in the corporate world to my role in my community o’ faith. One can, and often times has made the comparison between business and the franchising of the Church. In some aspects, I cannot dispute this. It began as a plan far bigger than any one individual could contain. Over time, in many areas it has lost it’s first love. For those of us who know what’s contained in the book of books, this comes as no surprise. After all, its founder predicted that this would happen in some measure. However, I also know that in many areas, its love is fresh. Its focus is razor sharp. Its people still care about me and others just like me. I am reminded everyday of the cosmic brilliance of this plan which has enabled it to endure 2000 years of influence, despite all human efforts from inside and outside to dilute it and exploit it. Despite its flaws, there are still many who remember the first love of its founder.
So on this day as I begin a new relationship, in a new place, I wish them much success, tempered with a bit of caution. Too much success can be a dangerous thing. In the pursuit of the dream, don’t forget about me and others like me. I can be bought. I have been bought.