What's wrong with Starbucks is also what's wrong with America.
This morning, at Starbucks, I went up to the counter to get a coffee refill. As I handed the barista my cup, I removed the lid as that is often their request. She takes my cup and promptly throws it away. She then gets a new cup and "refills" my coffee, though I'm not technically sure it can be called a refill since it's in a new cup. Either way, it's only 54 cents as opposed to $1.87, and free when I pay with my Starbucks card. She adds my "Two ice cubes, literally two ice cubes", which is how I order my coffee (each time saying "literally" so that they know that I'm asking to cool my coffee in the most imperceptible way and not asking for an iced coffee). As she drops into my cup the two cubes of ice, I call out "I have a lid" though she continues towards the lids and places a new one on my cup. Then, in a way that I've only seen at Disneyland or someone with an armed weapon, she "smiles" and says "I have to give you a new lid...Starbucks policy." Immediately, in my mind I blame that little old lady that burned herself with McDonald's coffee and then promptly sued for about a billion bucks.
I hate waste. So I challenge her.
"If I brought my own cup you wouldn't put a lid on it right? So it is possible for the cup to pass from the realm of the barista to the realm of the payista without a lid?" I smile as if I were Solicitor General Elana Kagan arguing before the Supreme Court or am I smiling like Justice Kagan listening to the new Solicitor General arguing before the court while thinking "been there done that?" Either way, I'm smiling because I am sure that I have convinced her that she doesn't need to put on a new lid.
She smiles up at me and says "Swine Flu." Ahhhhhhhh.
Now it's midnight and I'm back in Starbucks and I order a tall decaf. The barista says that they don't have brewed decaf but I can have an Americano for $3. I happen to know that Starbucks policy is that if they don't have brewed decaf, they will make you an Americano but only charge you the regular brewed price. Rather than get into it with her, I call the district manager's cell phone. No...to answer your question... I don't have the district manager's cell number in my phone but it's right there on the counter, under a sign saying, "How are we doing?"
"Not so well" would be my answer.
After apologizing for waking him up and explaining my situation, the manager confirms that I understand the policy and asks if I can pass my phone to the employee. She seems genuinely surprised about this policy. After she hangs up, she orders my coffee and then refuses to take my money. A nice gesture and I took her up on it.
But this is not the point. I'm not looking for a free cup of coffee.
I'm looking for a sane and consistent application of policy. We are all shocked when someone tries to plant a bomb in Times Square but not alarmed at all at the tremendous number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq. Had that bomb gone off, those "civilians" would be called civilian casualties. But no one seems to care about what we do as long as it's not done to us.
When Israel kills people in war that is a crime against humanity; when America does it, it's collateral damage.
Hey Starbucks, forget about the swine flu and make more than your logo green...make your stores green as well.
Yisrael Campbell is currently starring in Circumcise Me at The Bleecker Street Theater in New York City.