Dichotomy

I’m currently writing from a Starbucks coffee shop. Starbucks holds a very special place in my heart. Not only for the decent coffee and exemplary treatment from the baristas, but because it is the polar opposite of my work environment.

Starbucks is a little slice of heaven for me. Modern and minimalistic architecture, central air conditioning on full blast, dim lighting, and most of all, not a single drop of alcohol (I abstain from the consumption of alcohol, or any mind-altering substances, barring caffeine and nicotine).

The patrons of Starbucks are a polite, mild-mannered and multicultural cornucopia of folk. All speaking at a reasonable volume, if not doing homework or reading. Reading. Such an awe-inspiring spectacle in this day and age. As I type this passage, I am surrounded by several scores of people, all of which I could probably have a stimulating conversation with. Not a Confederate flag in site.

This place is mellow. It’s tranquil. My heart beats at a very reasonable pace when I’m here.

Conversely…

My workplace is a tiny wooden shack, haphazardly decorated with randomly strewn maritime doodads. We are an open-air restaurant. We have a roof, but no real walls to speak of. The entire establishment, excluding the kitchen and a small office, are outdoors. We have no air conditioning of any sort. Only several mounted wall fans, which help to circulate the hot, sticky, life-taking force that we in Florida like to call “air.” The sun is relentless and there is no escaping it. When stepping out of my car, it’s as if the rays of the sun are truly hitting me in the face and chest, like a smiling, anthropomorphized sun in a cartoon, but with hate in its heart.

My customers view beer not as a beverage, but as a lifestyle. They drink with a hell-bent tenacity reminiscent of an underdog athlete. When their styrofoam wells run dry, they begin to have tiny panic attacks, as their cup-bearing hands rocket into the air and wave ferociously. They drink beer while talking to their buddies about other times they were drinking beer, as they watch a band sing songs about drinking beer. I dare say it: Beerception.

As I’ve previously mentioned, my sociopolitical views are of the far-left persuasion. Contrary to the bumper stickers which fill our parking lot, I do trust the liberal media, I don’t believe that “pro-choice” is a nice term for “baby-killer” and I view the Confederate flag as heritage and hate. I’d call these people WASPs, but that term typically carries with it an aristocratic connotation. I always picture a true WASP coming from old New England money. These fine folks, on the other hand, are lower-middle class, blue collar neoconservatives (a very strange dichotomy, in and of itself, as the politicians they support would more than likely love to see them imprisoned or decimated).

They don’t read. Maybe the owner’s manual of their lawn mower, but no real literature. Not even Grisham or Clancy. Their world views come from regurgitated Facebook posts. Their politics come from bumper stickers seen on trucks similar to their’s. They say global warming is liberal propaganda, but I’m not entirely sure they know what that means.

I’ll step down from my soapbox.

In conclusion, I need my Starbucks. I don’t completely despise my job, contrary to popular belief. The money is good while I’m in school and I work with a solid group of individuals. But like all humans, I possess an innate desire to fit in. To be accepted. And as far as my customers are concerned, I feel nothing of the sort when I’m at work. At times, I feel both alienated and suffocated. Starbucks is my happy place. My quiet, liberal happy place where I know I won’t be scrutinized by obese men in “NO-BAMA” t-shirts for wearing shorts that rest above my knees, or for having product in my hair, or for looking forward to Sunday morning so I can listen to A Prairie Home Companion on NPR.

On that note, I’m going to get a refill on my black iced coffee. Take it easy, and stay tuned for more.

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