STARBUCKED: show some self respect
This morning I found myself just outside my corporate digs 15 minutes early and still a little drowsy from the night before. As naturally as it is to playfully kick a pigeon whenever the bird-rodent should come in one's path, I found my feet leading me somewhere else, somewhere comforting, somewhere like...Starbucks.
But it wasn't a comfort, and it wasn't like the satisfaction one must get (hypothetically) when one's sneaker gently brushes up against the grimy tailfeathers of a loathesome avian beast. I stopped in the midst of a cable car track, with oncoming traffic to my left which I acknowledged with a blithe wave, and looked, horrified, at the massive line of caffeine-deprived zombies stretching almost around the entire block as if there were a rock concert. Yeah who knows, maybe Jerry Garcia was in there pulling an Elvis, handin' out soy orange mocha low-cal lattes. But I wasn't about to find out.
"Show some goddam self respect!" I yelled, one hand cupping my mouth to make myself feel like I was louder, and the other flailing about madly. Or at least that's what I did..in my head.
I hate Starbucks. The first time I ever tried their house blend, I immediately ran to the nearest outdoor trash bin and projectile vomited. Then I proudly exclaimed, happy with my new find, "That's a damn fine cup of coffee!" But times were different then...before the war. Back then I went to the LA warehouses and I listened to the techno, tripping the light fantastic on substances I dare not speak the name of, and trying to knock the invisible balls out of neo-hippies' hands. There were even times when I felt particularly daring and would show up at a morning ballet class while in college, doped up on the godless black sauce of destruction, only to find that pirouettes would be my ultimate demise. I would get dizzy and have to sit some exercises out. I felt like an after-school special. Only I wasn't anorexic or on performance-enhancing drugs. I was Starbucked (use your own expletives to come up with crafty variations, this is a family blog.)
Upon years of reflection I have come to find that vomit-inducing caffeinated substances do not a balanced morning routine make. Yet I must have me a fine cappucino, there is something about the subtle caffeine kick and the foam. Oh the frothy foam! It's a miraculous thing when you find a perfect cup with a perfectly whipped foam--like the miraculous way Denny's does hashbrowns. I became obsessed with making foam as a waitress, and the result oftentimes left me covered in milk and the butt of many a joke and manager's grimace.
I asked myself why I hate Starbucks today. Yeah, it was one of them deep thinkin kind of days, and I reverted back to my unsubstantiated belief that Starbucks did not practice fair trade. I did look for the fair trade label on some bags of coffee about five years ago and none was to be found. All that the PR department put on the bag was something like, "Starbucks really thinks it would be peachy if laborers in Sumatra were paid a liveable wage, we're gonna get right on that...yeah...we really are ethical, if not in practice by intention!"
But alas I am wrong. They have actually gone fair and I have nothing to complain about except their Wal-Mart approach to competition, but come on, if I went on hating every chain there ever was on that premise, I'd just be one of those annoying assholes who takes to vegetarianism and uses alternative fuels because they can afford the luxury and turns their nose up at anyone else who cannot. Anyways...I take Starbucks over other shops because they have vanilla powder. Seriously that's it.
I hate Starbucks (insert Nat King Cole melody here) for sentimental reasons...
Masha Gessen is the author of *The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia*, which will be published in October. In the July issue of Har...
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