An open letter to the pre-teen who rolled his eyes at me… the audio experience.

An open letter to the pre-teen who rolled his eyes at me while waiting in line at Starbucks 7 months ago.

Dear Jackson,

For the purposes of this open letter I’m going to assume your name is Jackson. What the hell was that about, Jackson? It was a Sunday morning in the type of town that has two farmers markets. There’s the good one where it’s implied that you’ll bring your own eco friendly tote, and the crap one where they just throw your shit produce in a white plastic bag emblazoned with the words THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU in bold red lettering. Equidistant between the two is a Starbucks, and that morning it was packed. The line was long, and I moved up a bit so that you and your mom could get out of the heat and inside the crisp yet also stale Starbucks-smelling Starbucks. That’s when we first met, Jackson. You looked me up and down, rolled your eyes, then took your place in line behind me.

It wasn’t the type of eye roll that you save for a long line, like an airport security checkpoint or bumper-to-bumper traffic. You’re 10 years old, advanced concepts like airport security and traffic mean nothing to you. No, you weren’t rolling your eyes at the line, you were rolling them at me and I’m trying to figure out what I did to deserve it.

Did you think I was clinging to my youth too much by wearing a fun, retro Star Wars t-shirt? It’s not a new Star Wars t-shirt, Jackson. I didn’t find it in a pile of pop culture crap at Target. It’s not covered in laser beams or exploding ships or aliens holding space rifles. It’s just a plain gray t-shirt with the words “STAR WARS” written in that classic yellow font that we all know and love. People my age see it and their eyes light up with recognition. They do not roll.

The line trudged onward. Nirvana’s “Something in the Way” was playing over the speakers. Admittedly a heavy choice for a Sunday morning coffee run, but maybe it spoke to you. Was I the something in your way? Do you even know what that song’s about? It’s about doing drugs under a bridge, Jackson. It’s from a time when the notion of doing drugs under a bridge was so romanticized that there was not one but TWO very popular songs about the subject. Oh how we all wanted to laze around with poor posture under those bridges, eating fish with Kurt Cobain and eating whatever Anthony Kiedis was cooking up. Probably maize. But not you Jackson. If you were there your eyes would be rolling so hard that you’d get vertigo and nearly stumble into a trash fire.



Was my lingering duck scent off-putting? I spilled a large amount of wet cat food all over myself a few hours before our encounter. Is it because my face isn’t symmetrical? Is it because I’ve convinced myself that the rest of my body also isn’t symmetrical so I overcompensate by putting more weight on my left foot to balance everything out? There are two large moles on my head that were once covered by my hairline, but as it recedes they’re becoming more and more pronounced. Sometimes I think people stare at them because they’re almost too symmetrical. Like two perfect stars forming the constellation “Orion’s 5 Inch Ruler.” That’s probably what it was. My symmetrical constellation moles offended you. I’m not going to lie, I’ve thought about getting them removed, but that’s not something a dermatologist can do, right? That’s like plastic surgery territory. And am I ready to become the type of person that gets elective plastic surgery? Would you roll your eyes at my scar tissue, Jackson? Or the flesh from my back that was harvested and injected into my mole holes? I think you would. I think I would too.



Caution this coffee is incredibly thought provoking

It only took a week, and Starbucks is already done with their Race Together campaign, where baristas were encouraged to start a conversation about race with their customers. By writing the phrase “Race Together” on your cup o’ joe, they would jumpstart a not at all awkward or complicated dialogue at 8 in the morning over the loud whirring of frothing milk. I guess they were hoping it would lead to more interaction between humans of different color. Imagine the thrill of this experience: “Honey, I talked to a black person today, and you wouldn’t believe what I learned. Have you heard of slavery? Pardon my French but it was Effed. Up.”

Public reaction to the campaign was mixed. From “why are you doing this” to “no, please don’t do this.”  And while Starbucks claims “no seriously, this was supposed to last a week, we totally planned on giving up on this idea very, very quickly,” I remain skeptical. You can’t talk about race issues in America with an overworked and underpaid person, presumably of a different race, as they wait on your impatient, white, fancy-drink craving ass. Unless of course the conversation is limited to, “Hey is it hard to be black in America?” And they reply “Yes,” and hand you your coffee.

I've got a tall flat white and questions about race for Jhlom? Is Jhlom here?

I’ve got a tall flat white and questions about race for Jhlom? Is Jhlom here?

But hey, you gave it your best shot Starbucks. This is a conversation that we all need to have, just in a less cutesy, “isn’t this fun, instead of writing your name wrong on your cup let’s have a rap session about apartheid” kind of way. But this wasn’t the worst campaign. Here are some other Starbucks conversation starters that the public wasn’t ready for:

Campaign #1 – Holocaust: Fact or Fiction? – Whoa whoa whoa hey man we’re Starbucks, we’re just asking questions here. We want our employees and customers to express themselves. What, you think anti-semites don’t treat themselves to Caramel Flan Frappuccino Blended drinks when they aren’t spreading hate propaganda? Now who’s the bigot? OK, you’re right, it’s still the anti-semites. We’re very sorry for this campaign, we don’t know what we were thinking. Please have a free pastry on us.

Campaign #2 – This is a two part question: a) Do you think if you kill someone in heaven that you’re automatically sent to hell and b) what if the person that you killed was actually an undercover minion of Satan? Admittedly it’s hard to fit all of that on a cup, so it was shortened to SECRET MINION? underlined twice. This raises many theological and moral questions. If pushed to the limit, would you kill someone in cold blood in heaven? And that’s without even getting into the logistics of how you would pull it off. But if I had to guess – razor blade angel wings.

See? These terrible and completely real examples prove that you should never ask customers anything in the morning before they’ve had their coffee. In the best case scenario they’ll throw their drink in your face, worse case they may actually answer you.

You can watch me scream and yell all of my recent posts on AwesomeTalk! It airs every other Tuesday on our YouTube channel, where you can also find past episodes and other psychotic vlog vids.