Starbucks has always managed to attract Partners who are overqualified. Why? It's a brand with heart! We had a Partner in one of our Albuquerque stores named James. To me, he was a bit of a mystery. He worked as a CPA during the day and didn't seem like someone who "needed" an extra job or supplemental income. The reason that James worked at Starbucks in the evening was he wanted the community. He worked at our store on Central, not far from the University of New Mexico.
One day, James stopped coming to work. This wasn't like James. Then the story started spilling out. James had died of AIDS. None of us knew about his personal struggle and it wouldn't have mattered if we had known, other than maybe we could have supported him. A shift supervisor from another store was living in James' home when this all happened. It turned out that when James was younger he had been a successful drag queen. Unfortunately, his nuclear family objected to his "lifestyle" and they hadn't communicated in years. What was driving James to work at Starbucks was a chance to have another family. This time his fellow Partners and guests.
I did not know James well, but I have thought of him many times over the years. Even though he was surely struggling on many levels, he found peace in the environment that is Starbucks. I can't think of a greater legacy for the "third place" environment that the company has always aimed to create.
James, you have never been forgotten! 🌟
Glen, Thank you for this heart warming story about James. I am so proud to know about how Starbucks was a second family for him especially when he was facing some very tough life challenges. Appreciate you honoring James and his fellow partners with this story!!