Thursday, November 09, 2006

...starbucks 101...

As I stood in line here in this crowded coffee shop, Seal blasts some words of motivation through the earphones of my iPod. “…there’s so much a man can tell you, so much he can say…”, he goes, as if the words were pervasively written for pseudo-sentimental writers like me stuck on a gloomy afternoon inside a roomful of adolescent socialites enjoying the rush of commercial caffeine in their brains. Seal can’t even hope to spark my opinion now.

In my attempt to strip this mini-society around me and psychoanalyze the people in it, I am facing a blank wall. “…hearts and thoughts, they fade, fade away…” Eddie Vedder softly croons as his song goes into fade, much like the fleeting anti-social opinion I am harboring for these individuals. I get distracted by boisterous laughter, or a whispered gossip from four tables away.

There is many a lesson in psychology to be learned in a place like Starbucks. The new culture that our young have unwittingly created is an experimental haven for psychoanalysis and research. Imagine, a pre-teener whose pubic anatomies have just barely started to manifest, cavorting with fellow pre-teeners while discussing such important world-changing topics as hair gel, or the latest issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine. All these they do over a 200-peso sandwich drowned by a 150-peso caffeine-deficient coffee drink. That’s more than what an average worker earns in a day. In this coffee shop, that amount buys only half an hour. If there’s a new entry on their resume, it’ll be for special skills – able to spend money they never earned in the first place.

And let me tell you about the place itself. Never had commercialism been more influential in our society than when Starbucks was conceptualized. How on earth were we made to believe that a predominantly sugar and foam concoction can be tantamount to Starbucks coffee, and sold at a price roughly equivalent to the GNP per capita of some impoverished central African nation. We really must have placed Starbucks at a very high social regard for it to still continue its existence in the market.

“…can’t stop, addicted to the shindig…” yells Anthony Keidis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, as if on cue when I mentally asked the question, what makes this almost caffeine anemic assemblage click? The lethal combination of a highly commercialized capitalist entity leading an obligingly clueless society is enough reason for us to re-evaluate our values and outlooks as communal beings. It doesn’t take a genius to know that this partnership translates to more money and societal standards degradation.

“Sir,” the darn barista woke me from my trance, “your Caramel Macchiato, will that be Tall or Grande?”

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

...beggars can't be choosers...

It is in melancholy times that I find myself wallowing in my state. In between the hustles of my everyday life that I take small breaths and ponder on what I am, what I had led myself into, and what I might expect at the next turn. My life’s roller coaster is in its downswing at the moment, but only half of the car has turned downward, the rest is in an anticipating stage of curve. I am seated in the first seat and I can see the deep plunge ahead. I am sporting a scream that can’t seem to find its sound yet. The anticipation of falling while seeing to where one is falling to.

My professional life is at a crossroad, one that doesn’t have any direction marks at the corners, neither are there any crossing guards to ask directions from. It is in the middle of a vast land called nowhere. Well, that’s an exaggeration, but a close approximation though. Several weeks from now, I will know where this crossroad would have led me, and whether my decision, if ever and when I finally make one, was leaning towards the better or the worse. I hate this feeling, of not knowing what will happen, or how it will happen, or worse, when. It is like I am being held hostage, or that seven days of waiting for the next episode of my favorite weekly television show.

And yet, on the one hand, I cannot complain. The situation is out of my control, and I am but a simple leaf floating in the gutter after a rain. I am a beggar who doesn’t have the luxury of a choice. This fact, however, instead of consoling, makes everything – the whole situation - all the more exhilarating and agonizing. Now that’s another exaggeration.

On the other hand, I do have a little choice. Even though I cannot choose the scraps that fall off someone else’s table to help me last the day, I can in fact choose which table to wait under. I can choose to stay under this table now, where I am fully aware of the kind of stuff that falls, and be content with its occasional sallowness. Or, I can find shelter under a different table, one where the shoes of those dining are as shiny as my bathroom mirror. There I can surely expect better scrap to fall from the table. Healthy, tasty and more luxurious.

Beggars can’t be choosers, but they definitely can choose where to beg.

In time, this sentimental embellishment might come to pass, or it might not. Still that decision has to be made. And I must weather this lonesome state I am in, until finally somebody tells me the storm has passed. But right now, I must hold tightly on to the rail handles, hold my breath deep, and ready myself for the eventual fall ahead.

This roller coaster is moving.