Tag Archives: Starbucks

The World Burns While We Keep Up With the Kardashians

kanye west

I feel you, Kanye. I really do. (Image/viralpotatoes.com)

OMG, OMG, OMG, you guys. Did you hear about Leonardo DiCaprio? That he bangs a lot of chicks?

Howard Stern heard about it and he thought that was a really big deal and tried to get Tina Fey to call DiCaprio a misogynistic womanizer in an on-air interview, because these things matter, and Stern’s respectful treatment and portrayal of women through the years should, frankly, be the standard by which we hold all men, I think.

Or how about Chris Rock getting rich celebs to buy his daughters’ Girl Scout cookies at the Oscars! That was a pretty big deal and stuff.

I mean, I’m still getting over this crisis with Starbucks serving coffee in minimalist-designed red cups over the holidays. The nerve! That was clearly the biggest middle finger toward Christmas since the Sarah Childs neighborhood lights display. Can you imagine if they’d distributed coffee cups in colors with no symbolic connection to the holiday season whatsoever!? Like—I don’t know—their regular ones!?

Seriously, guys. I bet Jesus was soooo angry with Starbucks. Remember when he said this in the bible?:

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. And the third is: But NOT if they won’t say ‘Merry Christmas’ and celebrate my birthday, because then they’re a bunch of loser sinners who deserve condemnation, loud and public displays of outrage, and financial ruin.’”

Someone please distract me from all of these things worth my time, attention and anger! Remind me again how important Caitlyn Jenner’s personal choices are, and how much they impact my personal life at home and the community I live in. Remind me again how much I should pay attention to The Artist Formerly Known As Bruce’s stepdaughter’s Twitter account with more than 40 million other people:

Can you imagine if Kim had to pay for data usage to tweet that? OMG, data charges.

Like, like, like! Retweet, retweet, retweet! Because it matters!

‘Hey Matt! We Get It! You’re Being Snarky About Unimportant Topics People Like to Discuss!’

I know you get it, smarties. That’s why I broke every writing rule on the planet, probably offended some people in the process, and waited more than 400 words to get to the point—a topic which has already been blog-flogged to death here.

But I don’t care. This has been bothering me. A lot.

The Biggest Statistical Threat to You and Your Children is Divorce

I’ll give you health care, if you want. I’ll let you tell me that’s a bigger societal problem than divorce. If you’re a member of a faith community with deep religious convictions, I’ll concede that philosophical and theological conversations about a possible afterlife should probably rank a little higher.

Maybe someone wants to suggest education or environmental concerns as global problems impacting virtually everyone, but they’re not jumping divorce on my list. Sometimes, blissful ignorance serves people well. Just ask the PhD suffering from depression after she discovered her husband’s affair, or the civil engineer crying himself to sleep at night because his three children are spending the weekend camping with mom and her new boyfriend.

These Numbers Should Scare the Shit Out of You

The more I learn, the more confused I become about why this isn’t a mainstream societal conversation. Statistically speaking, 95 out of 100 people will get married, or are planning to. Of the remaining five percent, I think it’s safe to assume many of them will, at various times in adulthood, be in a long-term relationship with a romantic partner, the dynamics of which will mirror marriage in many ways.

Let’s recap what usually happens:

Boy meets girl.

Sometimes they’re teens. Usually they’re in their 20s. Sometimes they’re in their 30s, even 40s, before entering marriage for the first time. Most of the time, they’re not maladjusted, criminally inclined psychopaths, pathological liars, violent, sick, stupid or evil. Most of the time, they’re two generally kind, decent and educated people who fall in love and volunteer to marry one another, understanding that it’s a life-long commitment, and that if they mess it up it will be pretty terrible.

In the United States, 99 out of 100 accepted marriage proposals come from the future groom. Just a young man with a dream. He’s statistically likely to be 29. He spends more than $6,000 on the engagement ring. He and his future bride start planning the wedding together. They invite most of the people they know, and they spend, on average, $30,000 on a one-day party to demonstrate how seriously they’re taking this life-changing moment. They promise to love and honor their partner every day, forever, no matter what. They say it front of an audience, and typically enter a legal contract filed at a nearby courthouse.

These two people are serious about this. They don’t think they’re going to get a divorce someday. That marriages fail slightly more than half the time is a well-known fact.

Nevermind all that! We’re in love! #mylovey #besthubbyever #bestfriendsforever

In the United States alone, a new marriage happens 6,200 times every day. Or, put another way, after 5-10 years of marriage and sharing resources, 3,100 people file for divorce daily.

About 67 percent of the time—two out of three—the divorce is instigated by the wife, frequently because she married a good guy who totally sucked at marriage.

Think about that.

More than 6,000 people (marriage = two), plus their children, extended families, friends and co-workers are dealing with a new divorce EVERY DAY. Just in the U.S.

And divorce is soul-crushing. It truly is for all the couples who entered marriage with a legit forever-commitment in their hearts. The ONLY people divorce isn’t horrible for are wives or husbands who somehow found themselves married to some tyrant or con artist or abuser who behaved with such epic assholery that divorce actually provided sweet relief. And even THAT has to suck a little since you can no longer trust yourself to make good life choices.

But the human spirit is a tough thing to squash. We’re resilient and demonstrate a biological or cultural predisposition toward advancement and improvement.

Some people dig deep into their bellies down where the guts and courage reside.

I’m in love again! Oh, happy day! And I’ve learned so much from all my stupid mistakes in the past! I’m going to get married again, and it’s going to be everything I always knew marriage could be! I’ve finally found my soul mate!

Maybe there’s less pomp and circumstance the second time around. Maybe people don’t spend $30,000 and invite a ton of people to second weddings. I have no idea.

But I do know one thing: After all of the life experience and wisdom gained from a previous marriage, and after all of the pain, sadness and anger felt throughout divorce, and how obvious it must seem to adults willing to give marriage another shot, they ruin their marriages EVEN MORE often than all the young first-timers who didn’t know better.

Second marriages in the U.S. fail 67 percent of the time.

I mean, I understand why we have national conversations about gun violence and childhood obesity and how many threes Stephen Curry drained last night. I really do. I even understand why some people want to talk about Hollywood celebrities, or discuss something a coffee shop did that might have made them angry, sad, happy, or amused.

But, I CANNOT figure out why these alarming statistics aren’t sparking some kind of grand-scale concern or high-level conversations from a critical mass of people.

We have a problem. A national and global problem. And not enough people are talking about it because they’re too busy following Kanye’s wife on Twitter.

I think it’s stupid, and it kind of pisses me off.

But probably not as much as those outraged Starbucks customers were three months ago.

Again.

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The Bad Rules 

Bad rules irritate me.

Bad rules irritate me.

I handed the barista a $20 bill because I wanted to break it and leave her a tip.

“Thank you so much,” she said, “but we can’t accept tips.”

The Starbucks was co-located inside an elaborate new grocery store in my neighborhood. I gestured to my surroundings.

“Because you’re in here?” I said.

“Yes.”

“Feel free to not answer this question, but are you financially compensated for your inability to accept tips?” I said.

Without turning around, a second Starbucks barista behind her said: “No. No, we’re not.”

“So let me get this straight: The new Starbucks across the street has a bunch of workers in it and they all split the tips. You guys also work at Starbucks maybe 200 yards away and are paid the same wages, but can’t receive tips?”

“Exactly,” she said.

“Hmm. Sounds like bullshit to me. Thanks so much for the coffee.”

For all of capitalism’s faults, there is something beautiful about the freedom to pursue whatever work you want and for employers to be able to hire anyone they choose and pay them (so long as it’s at least the federally mandated minimum wage) whatever the employee is willing to work for.

Meaning, much of the responsibility lies with the employees who chose to work at a Starbucks where tipping isn’t allowed. They have the freedom to try to get a job at a Starbucks that does allow tipping. And they can get a job in an entirely different line of work if they so choose.

However.

I HATE BAD RULES.

Decision makers sit in board rooms and fancy offices and make decisions. These are presumably the smartest people in a particular company, so I’m always floored by the decisions that seem so poorly conceived.

I’m speaking out of school here about this particular Starbucks co-located inside this particular grocery store. I’m not privy to the legal terms of the two companies’ relationship, nor whether the Starbucks is owned by a franchisee and how that might factor in.

That said, I have a fundamental problem with a Starbucks employee doing the exact same job as another Starbucks employee literally across the street but making less money for it by virtue of a rule preventing that employee from receiving tips in a line of work where tipping is a common and expected practice and income supplement.

I know a guy who goes to school and works part-time at a Starbucks. I have no idea how many hours he works, but it’s not uncommon to earn an extra $50 per week from tips.

Quick and dirty math: If an employee is making $10 per hour and working 20 hours per week part time, they’re earning $200 per week, and $10,400 per year.

An employee earning an additional $50 per week in tips would earn $2,600 more per year than an employee not getting tips.

Thus, the tipped employee doing the same job as the non-tipped employee is earning about 25 percent more. Doing the same job! In the same town! Across the street!

And I don’t get it. And I don’t like it. Because it’s a bad rule.

And bad rules are bullshit.

Anyone With a Job Gets It

And if you don’t, you’re fortunate. Because many companies have bad rules.

For example, I have a job where in addition to my paid time off, I also have a week of unpaid time that I’m allowed to use. BUT. I’m only allowed to use it AFTER I’ve exhausted my paid time off. You know, at the end of the year when you’re spending the most money on gifts and travel and presumably have the least amount of budgetary wiggle room.

What would be the harm in letting employees use their unpaid time whenever they want?

It’s a “Because I said so” rule, and I’m particularly not fond of those sorts of edicts.

How about this one?: Single parent’s child gets sick and is forced to use vacation time to care for the child (and probably also get sick and use EVEN MORE time.)

You know what I do for a living? I write stuff. On the internet. And communicate via email with my co-workers, many of whom are close enough to speak to without moving from my office chair.

Millions of people have jobs exactly like mine.

Tools for the job? Functioning computer. Internet access. Maybe a phone.

If an employee can get her job done despite having a sick child at home (and won’t the proof be in the pudding based on production?), why are we punishing said employee simply because she can’t make it into the office?

Is she competent enough to stay in touch via phone and email and send in her electronic work electronically? I know I am. And I know that my superiors know how much work I typically get done in a day or week, and it would be simple enough to gauge how much work got done when I wasn’t physically present in the office.

I have every confidence that millions and millions of employees globally can do the same thing. Maybe the weather’s severe and driving conditions are dangerous and the kids have a snow day at school. Maybe a million different things that shouldn’t matter so long as the work is getting done at the expected quality.

But in many instances, they are punished for things completely outside their control.

One sick child equals one less vacation day. And for what? So they couldn’t be physically babysat by an adult?

It’s a bad rule.

And it’s bullshit.

We don’t have to tolerate bad rules and policies.

Slavery.

Women’s suffrage.

Prohibition.

Those are huge things that should not be compared to silly corporate policies, but are great examples of people rising up in opposition to things that don’t make sense.

There is A LOT of gray area in this world. So much that half of all voters in the United States believe something almost completely opposite of the other half about virtually every political topic. They’ll scream at each other and hurl insults in private conversation and on cable news talk shows.

It’s very frustrating sometimes, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The open exchange of new and different ideas is how the world becomes better. And how we grow.

But sometimes there really isn’t any gray area.

Sometimes, things are just bullshit and make little sense.

We should do something about those things.

You.

Me.

When?

Now?

Yes.

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Pay It Forward

Give without expecting anything in return. Then everything starts to change.

Give without expecting anything in return. Then everything starts to change.

“There are two ways to live your life. One, as though nothing is a miracle. The other, as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein

Someone I don’t know and can’t thank bought me lunch yesterday.

My friend and co-worker was kind enough to bring lunch to me at the office when I had work piled up and couldn’t get away. The driver in the car in front of her at the drive-through pickup window paid for one of our meals.

She should have accepted the generous act for herself. But she chose to let my order be the gift.

So, I kind of felt like two people bought me lunch when she brought me food and returned all my money.

So many little good things like this have been happening to me lately.

And they serve as an important reminder to care about others.

To focus on the good and beauty of humanity, instead of all the horribleness.

It’s so easy to find and focus on the shit.

Newspapers, magazines and television practically scream it at us.

The miracles are more subtle. All the good.

But it’s there.

If you just look closer.

Listen harder.

Shhhhhhh.

See it?

Hear it?

Actually, There is Such a Thing as a Free Lunch

Cynicism never made much sense to me.

Because every cynic could prove themselves wrong simply by displaying unconditional generosity just one time.

During my first summer interning at a daily newspaper, I was asked to cover a Zig Ziglar talk. Ziglar died last year after years of motivational speaking and training and writing bestsellers.

When I was 20, I wasn’t ready for what he had to say.

I just didn’t get it.

“You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want,” Ziglar said. Over and over again, he said it.

That wasn’t registering with me 14 years ago. I wasn’t ready.

Remember when you were a little kid, experiencing the magic of Christmas morning? Gifts, gifts, and more gifts? And you just celebrated the greed and excess because you were a little heathen child narcissist shithead like me?

And you’d hear some well-meaning adult—maybe one of your parents—say something like: “It’s so much better to give than receive.”

And you’d nod in agreement, but in your head, you were like: Yeah, right, dipshit. I got a Lite-Brite and a Nintendo and a new bike. Santa hooked me up. Because I was so freaking good this year. Have fun giving shit away, though!

But then you got older.

And Santa stopped bringing you toys because you weren’t so good this year.

But then you gave a gift to someone else.

Your spouse.

Your children.

Your parents.

Your friends.

And all the sudden your parents don’t sound so silly anymore. Ziglar’s message starts to seem a little less crazy.

That feeling inside of you, telling you all you need to know about the power of giving.

The power of helping people. Even in the smallest of ways.

Listen. Smile. Care. Try.

You’ll change the world if you do.

The Drive-Thru Difference

So apparently this is a thing.

A quick Google search taught me that many radio stations encourage listeners to be part of the Drive-Thru Difference, both to give, and to call or write the radio station with stories just like this one.

Where someone—without agenda—performed an intentional act of kindness.

Driver A pulls into Starbucks. Buys her coffee and pays for the driver behind her as well.

Driver B gets to the window. Learns that the stranger in front of him paid for his coffee this morning. He smiles. His day just started off beautifully. He doesn’t hesitate to pay for the order for Driver C behind him.

It’s a chain reaction of smiles. Of positivity. Of good deeds. And it sometimes goes on and on and on.

And it only took one. Just one thoughtful person at a drive-through window.

The miracle of generosity.

When my friend got back to the office with lunch, she handed me a piece of paper the checkout window person had handed her.

It was a note from the person I wish I could thank.

It read:

“You don’t know me, but I’ve just paid for your order. Paying for someone’s order is a simple way to brighten someone’s day. Hopefully it brightens yours. Maybe you’ll feel like doing it for someone else.

Hope you have a great day!

—   The stranger in the car ahead of you.”

What do you mean one person can’t make a difference?

What do you mean you can’t?

It’s out there. The good.

If we only look closer.

Only listen harder.

Shhhhhhh.

See it?

Hear it?

I do.

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