Nuts at Vancouver Starbucks


It’s no secret that Vancouver loves Starbucks coffee shops.  The famous kitty-corner ones at Robson and Thurlow always seem to amaze people.  I prefer the “new” one at the north-east corner.

Regardless, when you are in any of the seemingly infinite number of Starbucks in Vancouver, you should relax and smell the coffee, but also pause to enjoy the people.

I’m not saying you will meet like minded people of the same cultural/religious/politic/sexual affiliation as you. I’m saying you are going to meet nuts.

Not all nuts are bad nuts. (The scene in the Tim Burton version of Charlie and the Chocolate factory – where it looked like live squirrels were climbing all over that little girl – comes to mind.)  In the case of Vancouver Starbucks, particularly in Kitsilano, there are street people who are mentally ill who push the carts around noisily and are muttering (sometimes yelling) to themselves. There are high functioning folks, who I admire, who clearly have mental health issues and battle them every day.

These aren’t the nuts I’m talking about.

Eccentrics might be a better term.  Just yesterday I saw a live Craigslist transaction at work where a fellow was selling high end professional (or nearly pro) camera equipment at the Kits Beach Starbucks (Cornwall and Yew). At that location there are is a natural clientele of sports nuts who do some strange thing at Kits Beach like swim in the cold ocean in a wet suit and then show up for the triple shot extra hot no foam soy latte.

And don’t forget the staff. Most of the folks behind the counter have a story. I found a qualified barista who was also qualified to coach an elementary school choir. I also found a couple of excellent business writers and — especially the Starbucks near The Vancouver Academy of Music — some good opera singers.

Trust me, they were all nuts.

My favourite nut is a beautiful woman I first met during a two-week period where my back was giving me trouble. When I sat down in a comfy chair across from her and I groaned like the weenie I am and apologized. We subsequently struck up a conversation and realized we were Kits neighbours and my wife and she have some common interests and connections from Back East.

Years later I find out that she’s in conflict with cosmetic surgeons. I won’t go into the details — check out her site here:  Botched Cosmetic Surgery.

The situation beggars the imagination and the urge believe that surgeons couldn’t possibly be this nasty makes you want to think there has to be another answer. What makes the situation nuttier is that this lady was not (from where I was sitting) in need of a cosmetic procedure.

What is remarkable is that she’s channeled her pain into wicked cartoons. (One of them is attached to this piece.)  Suffering and art?  Seems a shame that these tend to go together.

Who thought with a tall dark at a Vancouver Starbucks you would also find a cartoonist with a medical conundrum?

Editors Note: Sometime in 2012 Starbucks gave up their second location at the south-west corner of Robson and Thurlow. Oddly CafĂ© Artigiano — a coffee shop — took its place.

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