If We Were Having a Beer

For the love of beer

The perfect place and beverage to share some casual conversation.

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?

Whaaa?

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?

No.

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.”

Sigh…

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.

About Dan Antion

Husband, father, woodworker, cyclist, photographer, geek - oh wait, I’m writing this like I only have 140 characters. I am all those things, and more, and all of these passions present me with opportunities to observe, and think about things that I can’t write about in other places. I have started this blog to catch the stuff that falls out, overflows and just plain doesn’t fit the other containers in my life.
This entry was posted in If having a beer, Opinion, Rant and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

64 Responses to If We Were Having a Beer

  1. Good summary of the SB misstep. Like I need a barista’s help to solve racism. Hmm….

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Charlie says:

    I knew there was a reason I liked DD!!!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. bikerchick57 says:

    I’m not a customer of Starbucks unless I’m desperate. As for Star Trek, I never questioned the diversity as I guess I found it normal. Although my parents weren’t exactly liberal, I’ve always had an open heart and mind toward the human race.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Dan Antion says:

      I considered diversity normal until I was about 10. Then we moved into a different neighborhood, so we could be part of a better school system, and suddenly, I was made aware that there were problems. I have always been conflicted about that move. Clearly, I gained the benefit of a better education, but I saw a side of people that I might have preferred not knowing. My father worked hard to make us understand that what we had learned in our first home (community) was right. I too have tried to keep an open heart and mind. Thank you for this comment Mary.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Faith Antion says:

    Great post! I’m not sure which Starbucks did the worst disservice to, the topic of race or its employees. Expecting a barista to continue to take orders, pour drip coffee, make blended drinks, shake iced teas, steam four kinds of milk, pour espresso without letting it get bitter, stick pre-cooked pastries in the oven, load gift cards and assemble all of this into the right cups and the right bags in an amount of time that won’t get them in trouble when that customer gets their post-visit survey (if you pay with your Starbucks app, you get to critique your barista on it) AND start a conversation about race relations is just setting your employees up for complete and utter failure. Not only are their customers going to judge them for creating a line out the door and chatting when there is coffee to be made, but they’re going to judge them on the statements they make on race while trying to condense the topic into the equivalent of a verbal tweet. I’m sure people who work at Starbucks have insightful and valid things to say about race. But as you point out, I’d rather hear those thoughts from people in a setting that lends itself to conversation, when people are genuinely moved to speak of something.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I’m a former Starbucks employee, and a HUGE fan — But that campaign is a massive fail.
    DD is closer to my house, and when I’m out without The Mister (who shuns DD coffee, but not the donuts) I like to hit the drive-thru and get a medium decaf, extra cream, extra sugar. I think it’s like dessert. :P
    At Starbucks, I am inconsistent, and feel they have more drinks to match my moods. If I want dessert in a cup, it’s a raspberry mocha. If I want warm and comforting, it’s a caramel macchiato. If I’m hot and runnin around, which is 90% of the time, it’s an iced venti white mocha.
    I have three parents, and it’s only my father who has/had friends of another race. My mother mingled with assorted races as colleagues and neighbors, but I can’t recall a single friend of another race for her or my dad. I do not think there’s a single person of color where they live now. I’m not even kiddin. Just a buncha old white people, drinkin, golfin, bitchin about taxes…
    If we were having a beer, you wouldn’t want me to get started on that, and I know baristas do not get paid enough to chat to me about race relations in my family, lol!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks for reading and commenting. If we were having a beer, I might start with “I have three parents” – I get it (I think) but it would be an interesting place to start. My parents had friends of different races, but maybe that was only my father. It’s hard to remember the faces, names and connections, but it’s easy to remember my father stressing “you are no better and no worse than anyone else” and he always put it in that order. The menu at Starbucks is mind-boggling to me. I just want coffee, with a little milk and I’ll join your mister in a donut.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. reocochran says:

    Dan, this is such a great post. I have often said the same thing as your title, only if we were sharing a pot of coffee. Thinking time and conversation would be meaningful passing with several of my fellow bloggers.
    I was so fortunate that my Mom worked in public schools and often taught us to spread our wings and make friends with many races. I also was glad my Dad worked at NASA with one Jewish friend, one Black friend and a Chinese man who was more of a mentor than a friend. The children of these people while we raced upon beaches or park trails were ones who taught me to accept our differences. I will not say anything about a company except I do know for a fact, McD’s did not serve ‘colored’ people in Florida, so my grandpa took a Washington D.C. family’s order and brought it back to their car. We did eat a McD’s but we did not hesitate to tell others that they were one of the last places we went to that had segregation. This was a great conversation opener, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      You are so right when you say that the children we played with taught us to accept our differences. I was in the south for my first year of college. I saw plenty of evidence of racism but no actual segregation. In some ways, we have made progress, but we have so far to go. Thanks for the comment.

      Like

  7. Sammy D. says:

    Yeah, a really boneheaded idea from some marketing do-gooder in the ivory tower. As a former ‘server’ on the customer line, can I say how much 99% of ckerks HATE the marketing and do-gooder pleas they are mandated to force on customers?

    I agree about Star Trek. It’s the examples that DON’T obsess about diversity that would have the most subtle but lasting impact if only the blowhards would back off their wrong-headed messages.

    On my soapbox I’d say NONE of us are ‘native’ Americans – our ancestors ALL immigrated or came as indentured servants, slaves, or sought asylum from some other locale. Probably because our famuly lines wouldn’t have survived the place we left. We all came because we thought the U.S. gave us better opportunities. We all miss our ‘homeland’. All our ancestors survived difficult circumstances – many for more than one generation. But we are all here – now – together – because if there was anywhere better, we’d migrate again. So stop the blame of present generations for what happened in the past, stop insisting on boxing us into labels from another continent’s origin and be civil and respectful when we meet. That’s a start. One step …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      What a good step that would be Sammy – mutual respect. We could eliminate most problems if we started with that. I know enough about my ancestors to say that you are pretty much on point with how/why we got here. Knowing that a few generations ago, family members left their homes because they were persecuted in some way makes me seriously wonder why we would choose to persecute anyone. A heritage of being accepted as immigrants, but unwilling to open our borders…it all makes no sense to me Thanks for the comment..

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Dan Hennessy says:

    Starbucks , one way or another , doesn’t affect me much . I am always amused at the term “barista” , however . Maybe next , though , Starbucks could take on the problems in the Middle East .

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I hate to go to Starbucks, but I like the richness of the coffee so twice a tear I’ll find myself there. I guess I would answer the question, “Tell me yours and I’ll tell you mine.” I would get a weird look and then some spit to go with my Joe.”Leave the room for half and half. Yeah, that’s right real dairy not that chilled chalk water you call soy.” They are happy only to see me twice a year.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks John, that would be a good response, but I’d keep my eye on that cup. I only end up at Starbucks when friends insist and sometimes I just go for an iced tea, although I am truly amazed at how long it takes them to make a barely adequate iced tea. But I’m sure that lemon slice was organically grown on a fair-share farm.

      Like

  10. Wendy Brydge says:

    I’m enjoying these “If we were having a beer” posts, Dan. (Though I would be sipping a strawberry daiquiri, most likely!) They have such a nice casual (casual in a good way, I assure you!) and relaxed feel to them, yet you’re still clearly making a point. I have actually never set foot inside a Starbucks. I believe we have them in Canada, but not this far North. *cue the igloo and polar bear jokes* I’m not a coffee drinker at all, so a future trip to SB isn’t exactly on my bucket list. Neither is having an already annoyed/tired/unpleasant barista trying to force ANY conversation with me, let alone a random one about race. I don’t really have much of an opinion on this topic, but forcing a conversation with any stranger (or with friends for that matter), just doesn’t seem like the way to go. Not to mention the fact that up here in my secluded little town, the only “other race” are the French coming over from Quebec to do their shopping! ;P

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Now I will think of you as “living north of the Starbucks encroachment” Wendy. You’re so right, forcing a conversation with a stranger is not a good way to go.

      Like

  11. I don’t like Starucks plain coffee but I will drink their latte. How awkward would that conversation be over my order? Out of the blue did my parents have interracial friends? Both my parents are long gone. And is it any of their business (Starbucks)? How ridiculous? I do feel sorry for the employees being forced to ask the questions. And I agree with you, I love the way Star Trek promoted diversity and more equal rights for women. Although the women did have to go around in those micro mini skirts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      It’s funny that you mentioned the mini skirts Deborah. In an early draft of this post, I was crediting Star Trek with addressing many ‘isms’ but I left out sexism because, well, they never quite got beyond that one. It was good to see female commanders, officers even admirals, but they would always drift back to those bits of flash and flesh. thanks for the comment.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think in the later versions the women wore more sex neutral uniforms. Another thing that was a bit behind the times was referring to the Nurse as Nurse Chappel. No one in American at that time would speak to a Nurse in that way to my knowledge. I was in Nursing School in the early 70s and we would have really not liked being addressed that way. But I think the overall theme was inclusive, even toward aliens. Unless they were Klingons or Romulens. :)

        Liked by 1 person

        • Dan Antion says:

          During Next Generation, the women lead characters revolted a bit and were successful in getting some changes made. I guess I’m not familiar with how a nurse would have acted or been treated in the ’70s. I was in school but I don’t think I knew any nurses. You’re right though, they were inclusive. Toward the end, even of Romulans.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Well a doctor or anyone else would not have addressed a Nurse as Nurse (Last Name). That was really old-fashioned. Kind of Nurse as subordinate or hand-maiden. Not accurate. Yes, and the Klingons were finally included. :)

            Liked by 1 person

  12. My mom knew no blacks that I can remember but many Mexicans (Southern California kid) — and then we knew many many gays, artists, and various oddballs. She was a bleeding heart liberal and so, I grew up in a very liberal household. There was one black family in our town and they were treated normally by most kids — that is, they dated whites or Mexicans. I also was subjected to hours of Star Trek by my brother, who was a trekkie. I am so-so about it. I can dip into it but am not a fan. IF the trek characters lived in Laguna Beach they woudl have ended up at our dinner table, however.
    And you know how I feel about Starbucks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Being open to anyone is such a wonderful way to live. Welcoming people just because they are people (even the occasional oddball) sounds so much better than drawing distinctions and deciding who rates and who doesn’t. And yes, your vote on Starbucks has been counted :) – thanks Katie.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Never been a fan of Starbucks. Don’t like their coffee, everything is overpriced and the atmosphere seems rather cult-like. Dunkin Donuts is my go-to stop if I need coffee on the run but I usually bring my own from home.

    As for Star Trek and the many spin-offs that came after, I have always been proud of their “Boldness” after all their tagline does say, “… to boldly go where no one has gone before…” – – they seemed to accomplish that on many levels and in so doing fueled my love of diversity!

    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks. I think the original series was certainly a bold move where no (TV producer) had ever gone. They talked many social ills, some quite well, but I think they embraced diversity better than anything. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. loisajay says:

    Great post, Dan. You bring a lot to the table (as I sip my Pinot). But the only Starbucks I go to is inside my Barnes & Noble. They cannot even spell my name right (‘it’s L-o-i-s, not L-o-u-i-s) so that’s then end of any conversation I might be having with the ‘barista.’

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      My daughter (see Faith’s comment higher up) was a barista inside a Barnes & Noble for a while during college. I think she would have gotten Lois right. I think if you had come in a couple of times, she might have recognized you or remembered what you liked. The last time I was in the Starbucks by work, they asked me how to spell “Dan”

      Liked by 2 people

  15. Starbucks…why do they bother with a name? I feel your frusteration. I grew up in a town of 1300 people. Guess how many were white. Now I live with 4 1/2 million people. Guess how many aren’t white. I’m making up for lost time. :) I cherish what I’ve learned from every race. Starbucks doesn’t have enough coffee for that discussion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      I think the name is so they don’t actually have to try and keep track of you as a person. It’s Dan’s coffee, he will know when we call it out. They want it to seem personal, but it’s really so they can move you through with less effort and fewer mistakes. Probably because mistakes cost them money. Yeah, I guess I’m down on them Audrey. You are very wise to cherish what you’ve learned from others – all others.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. This is a thoughtful posting, Dan, you deliver with style and most importantly for me
    without being in the least bit preachy.
    Thank You.

    Best Wishes

    john

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Dunkin Donuts have finally arrived in Mumbai. So tell me what should I try when I go here? except alcoholic drinks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      No alcoholic drinks, just coffee and tea and such. I like their regular coffee either with a little milk or cream. They don’t have a thousand varieties like Starbuck’s. They do have nice iced coffee concoctions (Coolattas i think). I like most of their donuts, but my favorites are the chocolate and vanilla cream filled. Not Boston Creme (more of a custard) but the cream that looks more like frosting in a powder-sugar covered donut.

      Like

      • Well, I just checked the Dunkin Donuts menu. The prices here are bit higher than Starbucks, but next time when I visit that mall, I am going to try it. Coolattas are only available in Lychee and Orange flavor, so which one should I try? So should I try the Boston Creme or not? Is it powdery feel in the mouth?

        Like

  18. Jill's Scene says:

    This time, if you were supping a beer and I was sipping a merlot, I’d tell you Dan, that my home town is known for its boutique cafes. We do have a Starbucks but I hardly every go there. I prefer the cafe around the corner, Two Fat Lattes, where the food is home made and they’re much too busy getting my coffee just how I like it to ask such impertinent questions. But, if, and heaven forbid, Two Fat Lattes happened to be closed I suppose I might get a coffee from Starbucks. And, although I have compassion for baristas, they do a great job, a job I need them to do, if they asked me such a question chances are, especially given that I would, by then, be suffering from caffeine withdrawal (I’ve walked an extra block for my fix, remember) I’d snap: Did your bosses make you ask me that? Without waiting for the answer, I’d declare: They did, didn’t they? And then I’d say to the hapless barista: You tell them to stick to their knitting. Then, because, like Faith, one of my boys was a barista for Starbucks while he was studying at University, I’d smile sympathetically at the barista whose bosses surely can never have done this particular job in the company, and I’d say thanks for my coffee.
    Great post, Dan.

    Like

  19. LadyPinkRose says:

    Only you would connect Starbucks to Star Trek, Dan. Your mind is truly unique! As for the Starbucks coffee, don’t drink their liquid beans, only making my own. As for racism, I honestly did not know what that was growing up. Call me naive. I don’t know. I couldn’t understand why certain races were looked down upon, and I still to this day maintain that attitude. Regarding the beer, no thanks but thank you all the same. Enjoyed another wonderful post from you, Dan. Thank you. Have a wonderful Sunday! Love, Amy

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Amy. We were raised to not see a difference but, unfortunately, I’ve been exposed to many people who did not share that view. I maintained my opinion and (I think) an open mind, thanks to the powerful messages about equality that my father shared with us. He also lived the way he talked, so he set an example for us to go along with the message.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. That Starbuck’s question just flabbers my gast. My parents were from another time. Heck, I AM from another time. Although i realize the same is not true for everyone, my attitudes and beliefs have nothing to do with my parents. Dan, i’ll buy the next round, but I’ll have a red ale. :D

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dan Antion says:

      Something with color – what s surprise :) I’m not sure if maybe they were supposed to ask that question only to teens but none of the ten questions seemed appropriate to ask a stranger during a transaction. Thanks for the tweet.

      Liked by 2 people

  21. yprior1 says:

    Hear, hear – this was a lively and awesome post Dan = thanks for it – and I will take a few sips of a porter or stout – but just a couple ounces will do me just fine.

    anyhow, I think Starbucks ended up with some major publicity with this idea- so stupid or not – it sure got people talking about it.

    and did you know that it is my goal to watch some Star Trek this year? maybe over summer – and not every episode – but I feel out of the loop knowing nothing and I want to get a feel from viewer standpoint – so I look forward to coming back to this post in december to see reread the Trek comments you made – looking forward to it – anyhow, have a good day Dan

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks. I’m sure Starbuck’s got what they wanted out of this. I’m just not sure what that might be. My favorite STNG episode is called “Inner Light” in case you’re looking for recommendations:)

      Like

      • yprior1 says:

        well I am up for tipoids- – so thx for that – and if you think of anymore tips please drop by and let me know – ha!
        and BTW – this is the comment I am looking to come back and see how I feel about:
        “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.”

        Like

  22. Peter Nena says:

    Dan, I’ve been thinking about wonderful things about humans that have turned awful–have become anathemas. Typically race is one of them. And in countries like Kenya, tribe is another. You can no longer identify with a tribe here and feel all happy about it. Politicians have made sue of it. Then there are others like being fat or thin, tall or short, rich or poor, where you live, who you hang out with, where you work, what you earn, what you wear, drive, etc. The human life is rife with discriminations. And there is a cruel sort of violence in the undertones. Waiting to explode. Humans just hate differences. So I’ve been thinking, maybe that’s the normal way to go.
    I could be wrong, or I am wrong, but, man, people are unsettled by differences. It seems so natural. I have neighbors literally competing to buy cars, whose car is more expensive, better-looking? Until recently they had a bitter exchange in the parking lot. How do you explain that? They are both very able individuals who take care of their families well. Yet . . .
    Those discriminations never make sense to me. Humanity as a whole is great and people do great things. But there is abundant crap to cause enormous retardation. And so if I meet one broadminded person with a great heart that can perceive beyond the crap, I always just stick there. You are one such person.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thank you Peter! I could tell from your previous comments and the stories that you’ve share that you are such a person. I’ve never thought of the problem being reduced to fact that we hate differences, but I’ve seen so many types of unfounded discrimination and dislike that it certainly makes sense. I would rather be unique than similar. I think you’ve given me food for thought. You can expect this theme to return.

      Like

  23. Steve Weissman says:

    Hey, if I want social commentary with my takeout, I’ll get it from the reliable place I always have: a fortune cookie!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Glynis Jolly says:

    Yes, Star Trek did help make bridges in the conflict of race. It must have really made an impression on my family. I have cousins who are Asian-American and African-American. My stepdaughter is half Korean. My niece is half Indonesian. Several years ago, a cousin went to Russia and brought back a wife who he’s been married to ever since. So far though, there’s no one from the Middle East in my family.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      My father drew some criticism for stepping out of his (Middle Eastern) heritage, but mainly from people in his parent’s generation. We collected a few folks from around the world in that 2nd and then in the 3rd generation – and it was all good!

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Paul says:

    I love strong coffee, and I visit Starbucks quite a bit, but yeah, I wasn’t too impressed with this campaign to talk about race either. I get it — maybe you really do want to reach out, try to use your influence for good, etc., and be seen as caring about more than just earning a few shekels from people trying to get their daily caffeine. But honestly, guys, NO. Fine, be more than a coffee company if you like, but don’t be so pretentious as to think you’re here to Save The World. Just giving me my delicious BOLD coffee is salvation enough, okay? We’ll handle the rest.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Rose Red says:

    “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.”

    I like that. And that beer looks mighty cold.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks. I’ve had conversations on this subject and subjects like it, and when the people involved already have a certain amount of respect for each other, differences of opinion are considered. We may still agree to disagree, but it’s a conversation, not a lecture.

      Like

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