The Third Place

My third place is closing.

There’s a theory out there – and I’m sure there’s a web site devoted to it, maybe several web sites or even a really detailed Wikipedia page with citations, and if I was ambitious I’d Google it and link to it here – that everyone has a place to be with people and be social, away from home and work.

For the past 15 years, mine has been the cafe at Borders.

Wow, 15 years.

But all of that is coming to an end. Borders is closing 200 of their stores, and my local Borders is one of them. They’ve already closed the cafe and the big sale starts this weekend. (That was quick!) So it’s all over.

This is sad. We all need something away from home and work, some place we truly choose to be. The Borders cafe was always a great place to hang out. I met some good friends there, got to know the staff well (which is bound to happen when you go some place almost every weekend for 15 years and order the same thing, a medium chai), and it was just a great thing to have this comfortable place to drink and relax and read and work and talk to people.

So what will we all do now? It’s not like we’re hurting for locations to read and consume caffeine. We have Starbucks and donut shops and other places. There’s a Barnes & Noble across the street from the Borders, and it’s a fine place. Good book selection, good magazine section, and the food and drink in the cafe are just as good as the stuff Borders had (the food is better, actually). The downside? God are their tables and chairs uncomfortable. It’s a crowded area, with tables that are way, way too small to do anything – good luck sitting with another person – and many tables are those tall things that have always seemed odd to me. You’re never quite comfortable because the chairs are high and your legs are dangling.

If B&N realized that the closing of Borders across the street was an opportunity for them to redo their cafe and make it truly a place where people would want to hang out and not merely a place to quickly suck down a drink, then it could be a great third place for people.

Or maybe some people won’t even go over the the new B&N because of whatever reason. Or maybe after so many years people don’t need a place to hang out anymore. They have other things to do and maybe they’ll just stop by once in a while when they need to make a specific trip to the bookstore.

Maybe the web is the Third Place for a lot of us now.

In other news, I have two new pieces up at TV Squad. One is a review of the latest episode of 30 Rock, and the other is my latest Journal of a Couch Potato. I watched The Disney Channel for 10 straight hours – starting at 4AM – something I hope I never have to do again in my life. Though ask me again when I have kids.

Have a great weekend.

(Pic from Patch.)

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