A Chance Encounter with a Dutch Tourist This Morning

I've Moved! The Boomer Chronicles has closed after 6 years, but you can keep up with me on my new blog at http://www.rheabecker.com

So I was walking to work today in downtown Boston when a blondish woman stopped me and asked for directions to a particular hotel. I told her where it was, and then she asked if there was a coffee shop nearby. I thought for a moment and couldn’t think of anything except a nearby Starbucks. I am strongly against chains, so I didn’t want to recommend Starbucks, but I couldn’t come up with a nice independent little coffee shop  (like the kind they have all over New York City), so I said, “Well, there’s a Starbucks a block away.” The woman was very enthusiastic: “We don’t have Starbucks in the Netherlands!” Then I told that I don’t like to recommend chains. In fact, when I visited Amsterdam a few years ago, I loved the multitude of little cafes all over the city, all independently owned. She countered with, “But you don’t know what you’re getting in each of those cafes. The coffee could be bad. With Starbucks, you know what you’re getting.” So I said, “I don’t drink coffee, so I really go into the cafes for the atmosphere.” The woman thanked me and proceeded to Starbucks, where she knew she could get the chai she loves.

It was a brief, but eye-opening conversation. I hate chains because of their uniformity (and devastation of locally owned establishments) and she loves chains for their uniformity.

13 Responses to “A Chance Encounter with a Dutch Tourist This Morning”

  1. Ron Newman Says:

    In downtown Boston I would have suggested Boston Common Coffee Company or Thinking Cup.

  2. Rhea Says:

    OH, yeah, Thinking Cup. Duh!!

  3. Charlotte K Says:

    I would have laughed and asked her if she really meant a coffeeshop. In Holland that’s where you buy pot! She wanted a cafe (in her own parlance anyway).

  4. Rhea Says:

    Charlotte, wow, who knew?!

  5. eeka Says:

    Our coffee shops also don’t sell weed! ;-)

    (The Netherlands does have Starbucks. Two in Amsterdam, several in the airport, etc.)

  6. eeka Says:

    Oh hey, that person’s comment showed up while I was typing mine. Great minds think alike!

  7. Matt Says:

    “Who knew?” … that the Dutch have legal pot? Quite a lot of folks, really. There was some good bit of dialog about it in a little movie called Pulp Fiction, for example :-)

  8. Rhea Says:

    Eeka, apparently my new friend from the Netherlands doesn’t live near Amsterdam.

  9. Sightings Says:

    I’m with you, not a Starbucks fan — b/c of its uniformly bad coffee!

  10. Hattie Says:

    Dutch coffee can be pretty bad, as I recall.

  11. susan Says:

    Oh, what do the Dutch know? They wear those wooden shoes, and, really, what the hell is their cuisine?

  12. Radiation, carbonara, gas prices & more | The Baby Boomer Entrepreneur Says:

    [...] A chance encounter with a Dutch tourist in Boston leads to an eye-opening conversation. Read more at The Boomer Chronicles. [...]

  13. Grace Says:

    I have to cast a vote with you and Starbucks. I hate their coffee, and the chain itself. I love the individual businesses with their own charm, and I do acknowledge the risk of not knowing exactly what to expect. In my opinion, that is part of the fun. For those of us who are bloggers, some of the awful experiences make the most entertaining stories! Not only that, if you have a bad experience, you can contact the owner about it. Not only does that give them feedback so they can improve their product and service, it can be the beginning of a good relationship. Just remember to be nice, hey, we all learned that in kindergarten.

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