You would take a sip of whatever you’re drinking, look over at me and say “how many friends of a different race did your parents have?”
“Seriously, that was one of the questions some bonehead in Seattle wanted your barista to ask you while she was messing up your coffee order.”
“Fortunately, I avoided the encounter. I don’t like Starbucks coffee. I prefer Dunkin Donuts.”
Then I would tell you how that failed campaign, failed start I should say, I guess they are continuing the campaign, interfered with the start a series on my blog.
And you would say: “not that Star Trek thing?”
“Yes actually; wait, I thought you liked Star Trek?”
“I liked the show but I think that for every moral issue they tackled they probably left a few thousand aliens in worse shape than when they first encountered them. Not to mention the ones they just flat out killed.”
My facial expression would acknowledge your point. I’d offer to order the next round while I tried to reassemble my thoughts. I know from previous entries in this series that you may not be drinking beer. Order up, beer, wine, coffee, I got this.
I would try to explain that it’s not the overt message of any particular Star Trek episode I wanted to talk about, that’s why I thought I could do this without being Trek-heavy. It’s the hope for mankind that Star Trek offered.
“You mean that we’d have replicators and holodecks and stuff like that?”
From its inception, Star Trek distanced mankind, well Federation-kind from racism. Putting an African American woman on the bridge was a bold move in the ‘60s. For that matter, so was putting a Russian and an Asian-American there. The message was that, over time, we had grown as a society to a point where race and origin didn’t matter. We were free to embrace our heritage without fear of offending anyone or being targeted by anyone. That’s all. Is that too strong a moral message? Is that too much to hope for?
You would nod, take another sip and I would be able to tell that you were going to try to confound me with your response. You like to do that. You’re not one to simply agree with me.
“So how did Starbuck’s interfere with your plan?”
“I didn’t want my comments to seem like a lame response to the Starbuck’s campaign.”
“If you run and hide from the issue of racism every time there’s a racial issue in the news, you’re never going to talk about it.”
We would settle down a bit, and I’d explain that it’s hard to touch on serious issues in 800-1,000 words and it’s hard to introduce serious concepts into a blog that’s closer to a random stream of consciousness than a man-on-a-mission kind of platform. I don’t have time to research “issues” and I don’t speak with any kind of authority. Search the Web about the Starbuck’s campaign; hundreds of people wrote thoughtful responses to that disaster of an idea. I have very little to add. Besides, that’s not my style.
My style is to pick on Starbucks’s for being arrogant. They are a retail operation, yet they insist on treating the customer as if we are just another logistical problem they have to solve. They don’t want to know my name, they just want to speed up the delivery.
I have to learn how to order their drinks. No “medium light and sweet” at their counter. That would probably be a “tall” drink, and “you can do the lightening and sweetening yourself, over there. Oh, and I heard you ask me to leave room for milk, but I don’t pour your coffee and the guy who does didn’t hear you, so just pour some in the trash like you always do. Next.”
Yeah, and I’m supposed to believe these people want to have a conversation with me about race relations.
You would point out that it was a dumb idea but that the conversations do have to happen. You would suggest that they are better suited to places like this bar, between people who respect each other and who value each other’s opinions. You’d look at your watch and add that “Starbuck’s would have served 20 customers in the time we’ve been talking about this” and you would be right.