Ray Oldenburg , a sociologist, is credited with establishing the concept of “a third place.” (see his words above) His books have included “Celebrating The Third Place” and “The Great Good Place.” The first two important places in a person’s life are their home and a work place. But it is the “third place” where people go to recharge their emotional, intellectual, and social batteries. Such places are informal, voluntary, and encourage interaction and communication. They are where “people can gather, put aside the concerns of work and home, and hang out simply for the pleasures of good company and lively conversation.”
Third places can be a general store, coffee shop, barbershop, bookstore, library, or a bar like Television’s “Cheers.” (see above) For example, Senior citizens habitually congregate in a conversation spot in my supermarket. Another third place is a rehab center near a local hospital. More is going on there than mere physical rehabilitation.
When I was a youngster, I was taken to a VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) post by a uncle. It had meeting rooms, a hall for group meetings and presentations, … and then there was their basement. It contained a looong bar, a large television, a pool table which was always in use, a dart board for both relaxation and competition, and there were snacks. I had my fill of cheese and crackers and cokes. My Uncle and friends had beverages with a higher alcohol content. It was my first association with “a third place.”
After high school, I worked for a number of years in an Insurance company. There were no computers and every piece of paper had to be manually filed. It was a mind-bendingly boring job –but the pay was poor. Do you remember when the minimum wage was 1.25 an hour.? That’s right, math majors: that comes out to 40 hours work for a salary of $50 a week salary. I quickly realized college would be part of my future so I saved what I could.
The high point of my “work” week was the Thursday evening bowling league. (see above) Every department (eg, underwriting, actuarial, records) had a team, which together created the league. The best bowler averaged 180. (The same as my Father when our extended family had a night out.) My fellow employees went to dinner and then talked as much as they bowled during the evening. The “third place” was more enjoyable and educational than my work place. And it paid almost as well (ie, nothing).
Where is your “third place?”