There are places all over the world where
we can go to enjoy a cool brew. Some have an atmosphere chillier than
the beer, and I don’t mean the temperature, I mean the patrons in them.
I’ve been in places where you walk in an not an eye looks your way, not
even the bartender’s. Once I walked into a bar and a guy walked over to
me and said, “What are you doing here?”. Now THAT’S a cool reception.
Lots of those types are all closed in with no windows, just a tiny
door you have to go around a corner to find and when you go in you’re
in another world. Sometimes that’s just what you want…privacy, even
But usually I like to find the lively places, the ones where you get
looked right in the eye and even the oldest long-timers at least
acknowledge your existence, maybe moving their stool a bit to let you
sit down, and emitting a polite sound of some sort even if it’s just a
grunt. That’s the kind you want in your neighborhood, with life,
vitality, and music.
In the best ones there seems to be a few different things to do,
with a lot of traffic back and forth across the room. People mixing and
moving create great opportunities for meeting. Sometimes it might be a
young couple who met by chance during a dart game. Other times a few
guys watching football on TV discover they are diehard fans of the same
team, or fans of two archrival teams, which leads to a gentle sort of
The great ones often offer some kind of pub grub—burgers, pizza,
anything that can lead to the sharing of food. Sometimes just the
aromas of delicious food lead to shared experiences.
We call these establishments “Third Places”, meaning not work, and
not home. They are important community anchors creating fundamental and
critically needed bonds between people who would otherwise be complete
strangers. They are also often the best places for people from all over
town to gather and meet—the softball teams, the bike clubs, people who
work together, even people who live near one another but choose to meet
at the local pub.
They are jewels in the community fabric, and need to be honored and
encouraged. Find one near you, if you are lucky enough to have one, and
use it as a treasured neighborhood resource. Have fun!