Last week, I read a piece in the editorial about a trip to Starbucks marred by the travesty that is a tedious, time-consuming lineup. This piece struck a chord in me, as I too felt the scourge of this ruthless empire that we call a coffee shop. Fellow reader, I feel the most heartfelt sympathy for your plight at Starbucks. Allow me to express my fellowship with your dilemma with a story of my own struggle.
I walk into the cold, dark pit that we call “our campus Starbucks”, and right away I feel myself die a little on the inside. People herded in like sheep, baristas barking orders… to think that humankind was capable of such inhumanity. I wait in line, nameless and alone, gloomily awaiting my fate at the hands of this institutionalized machine of North American greed, which on a daily basis feeds on the caffeine addictions and cultural snobbery of millions. A relentless jazz soundtrack drones from unseen speakers, breaking my spirits and killing my morale. I look around at the sea of blank, dead faces; I am surrounded by shells of human beings. None are spared, not even me.
The poor soul ahead of me has ordered his latte. I somberly step forward, gazing helplessly at the dizzying array of options above me, deliberately encrypted in an alien tongue in order to render me powerless. I look across the counter, and am met with the icy glare of a cruel, soulless cashier. He seems hardly human, his apron strings tied so tight and his jaw so fixed. I stammer, “I—I think I’ll just have a medium… ?”
“A WHAT!?” he roars back. A clatter is heard—the sound of dishes breaking and a collective gasp as the entire place goes silent. I hear a shuffle behind me and turn around, only to be met with the blunt end of a blender to the forehead at the hands of another employee. The world goes black.
I wake up in darkness, burlap obscuring my vision. My blindfold is violently yanked off and I see that I am being held in a small cell by masked, aproned baristas. The arms and clothing of my captors are caked with coffee (or is that blood?), and the repugnant stench of stale half-and-half fills the air. One of them steps forward. “I am the Starbucks Queen,” she declares, “and for your crimes against our great establishment, we are holding you for ransom. We demand that in exchange for your life, your friends and loved ones hand over one million dollars for the equivalent amount of coffee.”
“Wait,” I protest, “you’re asking for one million in exchange for my life and a ludicrous amount of caffeine? Why go to all that trouble to make a sale? Couldn’t you just hold off on the coffee and demand compensation for my life?”
“You clearly don’t understand how capitalism works,” the Queen replies, her voice dripping with pretentious condescension.
“Look,” I plead, “all I wanted was a medium coff—”
“GRANDE!” she screams, and the butt of a Swiffer mop hits me in the eye.
“Isn’t that just French for large?”
I am knocked to the ground and a barrage of boots begins kicking me in the side. I lose consciousness again. I am vaguely aware of the Queen demanding that her underlings take me away to be waterboarded with alternating doses of hot chocolate and iced cappuccino.
Soon afterwards I am sold into slavery, doomed to a life of picking coffee beans in the fields 12 hours a day. The work is hard, but I know that with each bean I am serving the greater good—namely, the good of the Starbucks Empire—and the life of caffeine, the greatest good of all. I don’t complain, because given that I am an English major, I know it is unwise to rail against one of my few opportunities for employment. I just wish I could have gotten to class on time…