Sunday, January 19, 2014

Starbucks-Routine, Backward-Establishment, and Ayn Rand on a Sunday


"Evil requires the sanction of the victim." 

- Ayn Rand

I witnessed an exemplary, albeit, casual example-scenario of the quote pertained above. There I was waiting in line, in front of me, were two adorable and nice-sounding geriatrics-that I shall call, J and P- in cute rainy-season weather outfits, even though the weather was chilly and sunny today. This particular variant of geriatrics suspiciously emanates of this country. They were loud and didn't care for the lovely menus plastered over the wall in front of them-typical, I said to myself. But then, before I even got the chance to mentally spank myself for eavesdropping on J and P I found myself intrigued, all of a sudden. The Starbucks that I have always spent my Sundays in was not immune to common customer attitude varieties just any establishment is, after all.

Over the counter, J and P were being served, entertained, by a Barista who had a nametag, which had  Partner-In-Training as his name (being the yenta that I am, I found out a week ago that his name was a number in Japanese). He was the archetypal Filipino server-always smiling, mildly-inattentive, hospitable-to-the-core, and soft-spoken-that wasn't common in the spices of the Starbucks Barista who tended to be alert, really or superficially friendly, efficient, goal-oriented, and possessing of a faux or real American sense of can-do-attitude (also noticed this in Jamba Juice). 

While J and P were chitchatting about the weather, simultaneously, J paid and handed over his "Promo Card", his objective? To get a sticker. The problem? It's January 19 already. It's already written in the top most number of the promo mechanics located in the card that "a customer can avail of..(a sticker)..till January 8, 2014." (Actually extended to January 15, which is typical, happens annually). The baffled Barista kindly answered "Sir, the promo period is already over, what we can only do now is give away planners." He was referring to the March 8-redemption period allotted, also stated in the card J handed over. Things got interesting when J and P started mumbling illogical comments to each other, casually agreeing to each other dumbness, snide recommendations, which obviously isn't in the hand of a mere Barista -or partner- in this multinational space we were in. How rude! I thought. In front of him, but then hey, this is fucking Philippines, what do I expect? Better be used to it by now, or at least stop whining about it, if I was in a civilized country, definitely I wouldn't have to be so withdrawn-was my consolation.

The Barista was kind enough to even offer a solution, which was to find another card from someone J and P knew that had the stars they needed to finally be able to claim a 2014 Planner. He went beyond his professional obligations, and even though it sounded insincere, the effort and thought mattered more. After all, who knew what he-and everybody else in this planet-was really thinking of?

As J and P finished their transactions with the Barista, and finally headed for their table-obviously unamused, filled with more cute looking elderly people. I was mortified at myself and the situation. I proceeded to give my order, which was the usual, no-foam-warm-grande-cafe latte. I was mortified at myself because I knew I shouldn't allow negativity like that I just witnessed to affect me, since it wasn't directly me involved. I also thought of the privacy- the need for myself to respect the three's privacy. Lastly, monumental and infamous quotes of the Philosophers I admired suddenly flooded over me, and one stuck out. The quote above. 

After I heard my drink and name shouted by the Barista, I immediately stood up from my table, where Donald Keene's The Anthology of Japanese Literature was placed. I picked this table because it was near my favorite sofa, the only sofa in that Starbucks, and so I was waiting for the temporary resident to pass on the throne to me, unfortunately, this table was directly beside the table where J and P were conversing with two other seniors. I originally intended for myself to read in the sofa for 5 to 7 hours, so as I could pay proper homage to the masterpiece I was about to start reading. I always made it a point to always start a book in a relaxed, eager, appreciative, and curious manner in a setting that had a good aura. The setting was almost always on a sofa in a library or a cafe somewhere.

I was content to wait it out for a while for the sofa to be available, in the meantime, I shall begin my journey. Destination? Keene's magnum opus

"Alam mo sa pinupuntahan kong Starbakksss sa may Makati, hindi ako pumipila doon sa linya, umuupo lang ako kaagad doon, tapos, lalapitan na ako nung nagseserb doon." ("You know in the Starbucks I frequent in Makati, I needn't fall in line, the Barista approaches me the moment he sees me in my seat." J declares loudly and passionately that his three other companions nod and loyally approve.  I wasn't even half-done with the page where the chapters could be examined, and already my concentration was getting challenged by this person inches away from my body, but already in my head, who wanted all the privilege he could get, simply because he's apparently "big". The Barista who served J and P was carrying a tray, and he wasn't even done placing all their orders in their table yet-which had a very bad aura, the most negative, one that simmered from "developing countries"- and already J and P reemphasized their recommendations to the Barista, who gladly listened, and replied with the same monotonous solution he offered earlier over the counter. As if, he could do something about it. If J and P had any suggestions to make why not fill in one of those ubiquitous service-feedback forms found in Starbucks? No? They weren't the type who were satisfied with others' kindess-even the most generous kindness- au contraire-they were the types who loved to blame others' for their own stupid laziness. Could he not just had looked at his promo card?

The weltanschauung of this (J and his company) person was that he knew someone or was connected to him or her, therefore unearned privileges was the rule. He saw the world stratified by hierarchy, and his was not a meritocratic hierarchy, but of simple "natural" rights endowed by his mere existence. He was a firm believer of feudalism. The Barista was now gone for 5 minutes, and they still continued to rattle about this person they knew, and how one could have easily figured out from their tone, that they desired to be one of this corrupt feudalist they talked of, because their analogies were "those people would never experience what we experienced just earlier, 18 minutes ago." 

I applaud my will-power. I never looked at them, or towards their table, even though others did. I was now in a confused state, holding my book, and my coffee in the center of the table. My thoughts and emotions intermingled, and I had a brutal analysis prepared in my head. It kept recurring, so I allowed to think of it, my rationale? Since, it wasn't going to materialize anyway, why not nibble with it. Their generation's legacy was partly caused by the essence of the idea they strongly favored-it can be deduced from their opinions-"It's who you know, not what you know." The disregard for individuality, for basic meritocracy, for accountability in the most basic things, that's their legacy. It was guised by their self-declared "respect for the elderly." Which loosely led to the blind-obedience towards big shots irregardless of an individual's thought-if it even still existed. How they treated "those not of their kind"(the well-connected) without consideration to his service alone, but rather always emphasizing the highlight on the person, rather than the deed, is the havoc they perpetuated, and worst, it was tolerated by another patron-the victim. 

The victim's professional obligations should have been limited to simply pointing out the place in the card where the dates contested by J and P were located, so as to point out the need for their senses to be used, instead of going beyond one's purview, and suggesting a solution. What were you thinking? This person is irrational, what civility can be expected of him then? Basic courtesy and respect for another human being is not practiced by barbarians.

27-minutes passed from when the drama began, and after checking my stuff in a paranoid manner-if it's really complete already- I fled the place with such unusual negative aura. So, I headed to where I could eat a very early dinner, and brought my coffee-paper-cup with me. Life's too short to be exposed to such barbarism and stupidity, and I will not sanction evil, I thought.