Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Starbucks Conversation

Yesterday.....Starbucks, the coffee geeks....announced that they want to start a national chat on race relations.  The key to their idea?  They want to convince employees of Starbucks to 'just happen' to bring up the topic with customers, as they serve them their coffee.

The program?  "Race Together".

It's safe to say that it was fairly ridiculed over social media.....few people took this idea in a positive manner.

All the Starbucks folks did was put out a booklet or guide.....which suggests some ways to talk around the subject.  The executive folks of Starbucks simply think that if you started some folks to chatting.....it'd go somewhere.  No one is really saying where....just that it'd be a chat.

I sat and pondered over this.  I'm not much of a Starbucks guy.  In the Pentagon....twice a week, I'd walk over and have a big expensive cup of green tea.  To be honest.....Starbucks tea cost double and triple of what McDonalds would charge for tea.  But, Starbucks has better ice (don't ask).

When I typically walk into Dairy Queen.....I'm there for an ice cream....not conversation.

When I walk into Hardees.....I'm there for a double-grease burger and some decent fries.....not conversation.

When I walk into a ribs joint.....I'm there for real authentic ribs.....not conversation.

When I walk into IHOP.....I'm there for pancakes and hot coffee.....not conversation.

I can't think of that many places where I'd go (I am over fifty-five, so my list of places might be more limited than some folks).....where I'd arrive to chat with folks.  Usually, if the Post Office guy wants to chat with me.....I'm just not in a peppy mode to chat about weather or lost dogs or upcoming snow storms.

A couple of weeks ago....I was at the local Army post Burger King, and the guy tried to get a chat with me going while he waited on the burger to be made up in the back.  Small talk, I would assume.  To be honest.....I'd prefer just to get the burger and sit down.

If you cornered me in a bar.....I might sit there a while and discuss the best shortstop that the Yankees ever had, police corruption, historical implications of the Battle at Hastings, Nazi screw-ups, the best ways to invest, bad cars, the trouble with Baptists, beer comparisons, or bad hotel experiences.

But racial relations?  On the topic list of ten-thousand topics.....that's way down around 9,642 on my list of topics.  I'd discuss NCAA women's basketball before I got around racial relations in America.

Why?

Generally, you come to three brief conclusions on racial relations in America.

First, it's screwed-up and manipulated by various political agendas.  It's done by the media, the local government, the state folks, and by the federal folks.  You can't discuss it because they will flip the conversation into something that won't result in action of consequence.

Second, too many racists and nuts in the mix.....on all sides.

Third, history has an ugly side to this discussion....but I tend to go back to the early 1600s and dig deeper into the topic than people would like.  I'm familiar with what the French did in bringing white "slaves" into the Orleans area, and what happened in Norfolks at the beginning of English occupation. It doesn't fit well with the media message.  I also know the business side of the discussion, and how the US economy fits into this mess in the 1700s....well before the US Constitution ever came to be.  My use of history.....makes this a different kind of discussion and conclusion.

As for Starbucks?  Well....you can try this gimmick....but frankly, I'm not giving any good odds of this changing much of anything.