A $10 Starbucks gift card is a terrible thing to waste, right, so I went out last night to downtown Palo Alto to find a homeless person who might want it. Starbucks coffee is good, but so what. I'd rather patronize local stores that enrich the character of my own community.
A lot of people feel this way, so I wasn't surprised when the first man I asked refused the card. He claimed that visiting a Starbucks hurt his feet. I couldn't really press him -- he rambled -- but a friend suggested that he's on his feet a lot and may not like long lines.
The next man was more coherent. He didn't want the card either, but explained it as a principled objection to buying corporate coffee. A kindred spirit. I offered him some pocket change, which he accepted. I should have given him more.
He pointed across University Avenue. We both knew that a young woman with a great attitude often sits over there asking for money. I found her and it couldn't have been better. She thanked me in a way that made me forget about giving money to multi-national corporations and other distinctions that really don't matter that much in the end.
But I'll do the same thing next week or next year if I get another Starbucks card for Christmas.