The whole idea of paying someone four dollars for roasting beans to create flavored water gives me the howling fantods, and so, I’m not a coffee drinker. However, given the staggering number of somnolent citizens who perform the A.M. stumble into their local Starbucks, I’ve decided to investigate.
Though some would argue the coffee drinking demographic is ubiquitous and varied, there appears to be an explicit subculture in these places of morning adjustment. Let’s start with the wood (that’s not what I meant by “morning adjustment” but what a follow up sentence!). ‘Bucks is unswerving in its décor, shooting for something library-ish or rustic, although frankly, one can imagine the high-office suits in Seattle observing some pretty hyped-up focus groups finger pointing at various shades of brown.
Inside the counter-adjacent glass cases, the calorically-listed choices are sugary in ways that make the diabetically-inclined skittish, and when combined with the caffeinated drinks, you get the sense that something could go awfully wrong in here. Because the place is like an LA traffic jam, the menu items have time to take effect and the progression is an endocrinologist’s dream. The back of the line is filled with bed hair and baggy sweats and half-mast eyes on people whose Louis Armstrong voices suggest last night’s antics may have included excessive bong-tokings or performing fellatio on a chainsaw. Two minutes after they take their first swig (“add a triple espresso shot” is a frequent phrase), their eyebrows explode skyward, spines straighten, a rapid foot tap appears and the radio announcer speech pattern takes on its side-effects speed. Consequently, the entirety of the line looks like one of those Chinese Parade Dragons where the guy in back is pretty much just being dragged along by the out of control “head part.”
Too though, there now appear to be an ungodly number of commercial items for sale at these former coffee houses, and seeing as how the captive crowd is pretty much functioning at unconscious mode, one can see the formula here – get them in the door and they’ll buy anything. I’m not certain but fairly certain that no one goes into Starbucks looking for the latest CD, a new sweatshirt, or this week’s version of the Ham Sandwich, and yet, all three are available for a premium price along with your morning adrenalin jolt. Who knew One Republic and a Triple Espresso could have such an invigorating effect on the national psyche.
This is all to avoid mentioning the little adolescent turds who stand behind the counter and display unparalleled illiteracy when it comes to spelling what your average thinking person might consider easily spelled names – No, Craig is not Kreg, and Jenny is not Genknee – are you kidding me! Don’t even get me started on the damn smiley faces tbey draw on the cups to disguise the fact that the next generation of American youth will not only fail but won’t even be able to spell SAT.
Look, I know I tend toward the cynical side of life – as if in today’s world there’s any other way – but Starbucks really brings out my worst. Now that they’re more ubiquitous than McDonalds, I’m thinking I should just give in and become a coffee- drinking automaton like the rest of the population. So, if anyone wants to join me for a cup, I’ll be the one with the unruly bed-hair and the scratchy voice and too-low sweatpants, screaming out lunacies at the back of a slow line.