Here's something I've never been: someone else.
Here's something I've never tried to be: someone else.
Be true to yourself, and your school. That's what I've always said. That's what I've always believed. It's also what I've always said. In addition to always believing. Just who I am, I guess.
Here's an example: I like Starbucks. Never had a reason not to like them. Now, I know that frequenting the place is not considered the most laudable or prideful way to purchase a cup of Joe for a young, socially conscious upstart like myself, but I don't define myself by your rules. I don't buy into the red-state, blue-state thing, I don't care what your daddy does, and I don't like the look on your face. Here's another thing I'm not: a liar. I just can't do it, can't lie; can't break the vow I once made to myself - always be true - and I can't be quiet any longer.
Starbucks is great. Here are some reasons why. Today I purchased a piping hot half-caff (to those in the know, that's a half-decaffienated regular coffee) and, in my effort to grab the cup, I knocked it over and spilled hot coffee all over the counter top and behind the register. I immediately yipped, "Shit!" and began apologizing profusely, but the cashier would hear nothing of it. "It's okay," she said. "Don't worry about it," she said. "It happens all the time, it's no big deal, we'll get you another hot cup right away."
Not only did they assuage my guilt, they conforted me like a lonely, scared child. They layed my head against the bosom of their corporate might and sang me a lullaby. Don't worry about it, sir! This happens all the time! You think you're not normal, just because you spilled a little coffee? Don't be ridiculous! That was the most graceful spilling-of-coffee I've ever seen! We sure do enjoy your crazy antics, sir! It keeps us on our feet; keeps us limber and lively! WE LOVE YOU, MR. CUSTOMER, BECAUSE YOU ARE AWESOME!
Here's another reason: they pay their employees well. Your megabusinesses like Wal-Mart and most fast-food joints will usually pay three or four cents over minimum wage for Regional Manager positions, but I've yet to hear of any illegal immigrants getting locked inside Starbuck stores over night for a good scrub-down. They give their employees great benefits and they pay them well.
Here's something else: all they do is fucking sell coffee. It's not like they're ruining our diet by serving food that is going to clog our arteries, it's not like they're ruining our economy and way of life by undermining our welfare and healthcare systems by underpaying workers, and it's not like they're using their huge profits to fund zapatistas in Cuba. Starbucks stores and their coffee are, by their nature, high-end affairs, because coffee is not a necessity - it's a nicety. Therefore, I don't feel bad if your grandma's coffee shop got driven out of town by a Starbucks because, and here's my point: what the hell is your grandma doing running a coffee shop? That's not a reputable way to make money! Get a job, old lady! I don't expect everybody who opens up a "Here are some crochets I've done for my grandkids, hope you want to buy them" store to flourish in our competitive economy, just like I don't expect some dumb coffee shop to stay in business just because no one else on the block has a can of Folgers in the house.
AM I ON A ROLL OR WHAT.
If there is a good old-fashioned coffee shop on your block, you think that it's going to go out of business because a Starbucks comes to town? You have two options: get better coffee or make your shop a more friendly and inviting place to visit. Because really, it's not like Starbucks is forcing some hard, indrustrious immigrants to really roll up their sleeves and work a little harder re-filling coffee mugs. Do you see what I'm saying? Starbucks filled a niche that was not occupied - super fast coffee that is good, with a smile and wink - and they filled it superbly.
I'm supposed to feel bad shopping there because? Because? Because....? Because I don't feel bad. And I'll tell you why. It's cause I'm my own man. An island. A rock.
And I like getting coffee from Starbucks. I like seeing the smiling faces of well-paid stoners and older folks. I like listening to the sounds of Elton John, Herbie Hancock, Beck, Joss Stone, and other smooth-around-the-edges popular artists while I wait in line. I like the gift card that I got at the company holiday party and the free coffees I'm purchasing with it. I like the hazelnut sticky-bun I bought this morning. I like that hot girl with the mustache that I usually see that I told you about a long time ago.
I like Starbucks. I'm glad it exists. Is that so wrong? Is that really such an egregious violation of your code of fucking honor that you have to crucify me? Have you all gone insane with your fucking protests and your fucking fake outrage and your damn social justice?
Half-caff to go, please, no room for cream, love ya lots, be back tomorrow.