Starbucks Conduct

Wise up, you are renting a table

By Al Carlos Hernandez
Published on LatinoLA: January 13, 2004

Starbucks Conduct

If the local pub is viewed as the place to wind down, then the local Starbucks or caf? is the place designated to amp up.

I?m not sure if the proliferation of coffee places is a reaction to seeing old school ?cool hang joints? places such as Friends or Frazier, or, Frazier and Friends are imitating a cultural trend fueled by a national caffeine addiction.

No one leaves a coffee clutch and says; hey I?m going home to crash. It?s more like, I?m going to sprint six miles home then paint the ceiling with my tooth brush. Those in the know tell me that if you have the same amount of Benzedrine and caffeine in a similar quantity, the caffeine is much stronger.

As a cultural Latino who began drinking coffee when I was 16, I have a philosophical and financial aversion to buying a four dollar cup of coffee, unless Juan Valdez rides up on his burro, grinds the beans by hand and serves me himself.

People seem to adopt a certain pedantic behavior when in a coffee house. Most people bring something to read, never a comic book. Others bring laptop computers, Palm Pilots, or Discman audio systems. For some unknown reason, people have a need to look and act smart. It?s rare to hear people ?doing the dozens? or ?talking smack? at a Starbucks. Conversations, and yes, I make it a point to listen -- like you don?t! -- are usually dry in a pathetic attempt to be deep and meaningful.

Starbuckites should make it a practice to study consumer economics. Wise up, you are not buying coffee.

You are renting the table.

There seems to be an aggregated effort to use big words, quote philosophy, do math, and muse pensively while getting your full tilt wire on. It seems bone-nuts to watch someone talking to themselves, until you see the little wire, and then realize their muted dialogue is whispered into a cell phone. This is where the coffee place and the local bar differ.

In our community, we have noticed that there is a whole new generation of law enforcement people who, rather than frequent the local Dunkin' Donuts, frequent the local Starbucks. It could be a generational thing. Maybe the young guns prefer scones over jellies, or visit the local cafes to visit with former Liberal Arts classmates or career counselors from college.

It make me very nervous to know that, given the police proclivity to racially profile suspicious looking ethnic folks, the young gun buzz cut rookie with a nine has just downed two triple double jumbo African crank bean lattes and can out-run a squad car.

Armed police personal on the job should be required to drink decaf.

What I find ironic is that folks go to these places to be around people, yet on almost every occasion we notice someone sitting alone in a corner with a laptop and headphones on.

Being alone in public seems like an oxymoron.

Maybe it's a macho thing but I always drink my coffee straight up, no sugar, milk, half and half, marshmallows, whatever. People seem to have a ritual of doctoring their drinks, and depending on the hubris or banality of the customer, make a theatrical event out of placing an order.

?I?ll have a half-caf?, decaf, with a spritiz of Hazel, with a non-dairy splash of cream, in a room temperature blue mug served by a transsexual with a hairnet in comfortable shoes.?

I hate when people draw attention to themselves by acting hyper-particular, as if they are so special. They need to be treated with regal deference. If I worked at a caf?, I like most of you would stir their designer drink with the same toothbrush I used on the ceiling.

Caf?s are a much better place to meet and greet people than bars. Alcohol is a much more dangerous drug than caffeine. Frequenting caf?s rather than drinking establishments greatly reduces the incidence of unfortunate marriages.

About Al Carlos Hernandez:
Al Carlos is a national columnist and a screenwriter.

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