Leonard Sweet wrote a book called, “The Gospel According To Starbuck’s”. In the book he draws some life lessons from the Starbuck’s experience. It’s an interesting read and the kind of book that makes me wonder about why I do what I do. It’s also had me wondering about the Maritime’s Starbuck’s: Tim Horton’s. It’s been hard for me to read Sweet’s book and not be thinking about Tim Horton’s because I equate Tim’s Maple Dip with my adopted Canadian home more than I do the Maple Leaf.
When we first moved to Canada I joked about going to a Walmart in Moncton, with it’s familiar blue and red motif, as a visit to the American embassy. I’ve been in Walmarts all over the U.S., China and Canada and they look the same, smell the same and feel the same every where I’ve been. That’s not an accident. A few years ago my family drove to the States to visit relatives and we all got excited when we found a Tim’s over the border (feeling more Canadian now than American), it was an embassy of a slower life in the midst of a culture set on fast forward. We went in and they had the same donuts, the same timbits and most of all, the same coffee. The only difference there was that the U.S. medium coffee was a Canadian large coffee and the whole cup scale was off that way. But the colours were the same, floor tiles, uniforms, smells: all the same. That wasn’t an accident either.
Every time we cross the border and go to the States, our first stop on re-entering Canada is always the same: Tim Horton’s. I get a double double, the elusive Donna gets a large tea, double milk. They don’t ask us, “A double what?” or “What kind of tea would you like?” We speak Tim’s and they understand us. There’s comfort there, a sense of community and a sense of home. If you’ve ever seen the commercial they run at Christmas time about the student’s away in Europe who write to Tim Horton’s and get a little taste of home for their troubles, you know what I mean.
So I’m wondering, what can I learn about my culture that can be applied to my life in the church in the Maritimes of Canada?
Here are some things I’m thinking about:
1) Small is good. You never see (around here) a “Mega Tim’s”. They have quite a few seats but every seat is a good one.
2) Always fresh. It’s always coffee, but they keep it fresh and new. The familiar but never allowed to get old and stale.
3) Multiple outlets. There are more Tim’s locations than there are Mickie D’s or any other franchise around here. They plant themselves where people are and where people go.
4) Fast drive thru service. Some people want to get and go. They love their Tim’s but they want to be able to take it with them and not wait around very long to get it.
5) Everyone can work there. There doesn’t seem to be a “Tim’s Type”. If you can hand someone a coffee or a donut, you can be part of the Tim’s Team.
6) Always open. When the semi-hurricane hit our city a few years ago, Tim’s was the only place open. They had brought in a generator and while the city woke up and started to clean up and recover, one Tim’s was open and getting us caffeinated and making us feel like we were still o.k., life made sense because even a hurricane couldn’t keep Tim’s from serving us the bean.
7) Consistency. It tastes the same in Columbus, Ohio as it does in St. Stephen, New Brunswick as it does in Charlottetown, P.E.I. You get what you expect.
8) Variety. You can get it black, single single, double double or whatever combination you like. You can get a flavour shot, but no flavoured coffee, you can get tea – including herbal (on request), you can get cappuccino (of a kind), pop, juice and even their own brand of bottled water. And that’s just the drinks.
9) Cultural dialect. You can speak Tim’s and get a double double, a triple double, a triple single, a single double or whatever combination and you will be understood, even if you don’t have a clue.
10) A place to be. You can spend $1.57 and spend an entire day there. You can meet up with old friends, make new friends or sit quietly, reflecting on the meaning of Tim’s.
These are just a few of the things that I think hold some insight and some wisdom for we who call ourselves the church in the Maritimes. If you’re a Tim’s follower, what would you add to this list?