The title of this blog is a play on The Twilight Zone, so don’t get your hopes up for gossip about Robert Pattinson. That said, there was mention of the supernatural at the coffee shop today.
My girlfriend and I walked into a Starbucks in Santa Monica this afternoon, one that I’ve been to many times, and one that is certainly not exempt from the overachieving level of Starbucks service. That is, on most days…dum dum dum. Today was different. Today we happened to enter the Twilight Starbucks.
It was as if the place was taken over by entitled rich kids or stoned monkeys or some other earthbound demographic who couldn’t care less about coffee, jobs, or anything to do with the phrase “What can I get started for you?” Yes, they were wearing black and green, but were they standard issue shirts and aprons? How could I possibly know!
The longer we stood there, dumbfounded and utterly unable to ask for help, the more it occurred to me that this was actually quite a familiar feeling. I’m from Toronto, one of the coldest cities in the world in terms of customer service. I’ve been ignored by professional misanthropes – these teenagers didn’t scare me. I would certainly leave with my latte. The truly disconcerting part was something else entirely.
I used to be one of those people who was absolutely appalled at the gauche American mentality surrounding brand name foods and services. I would cringe seeing an American tourist running for a McDonalds in the middle of Paris. Holy merde, what could be tackier? I don’t want to be associated with people who prefer something familiar to something adventurous! I would never come to rely on a brand such that it would actually enter my consciousness to see it change in some way!
But there I was, watching these kids idly polish steel contraptions and fiddle with petty cash behind the counter, ignoring me despite their presumed training requiring them to do exactly the opposite, and I could not help thinking: How dare they! This isn’t how a Starbucks is supposed to work! Where’s my latte, you stoned monkeys!
A very tan, wiry beach bum type guy in a wool hat smiled at me at the cream and sugar counter, once I finally coerced the staff into ‘creating’ my beverage. “It’s the Twilight Starbucks today,” he grinned. He looked exhilarated. He was clearly enjoying the anti-establishment theme of the day at his local corporate coffee house. I think I know where he’s coming from. And it’s making me question what I’ve become.