It seems that some time ago a marketing genius at Starbucks must've decided that there was entirely too much white space on the cups, that people's natural instinct when drinking coffee is to read something, and that people would indeed be so famished for that something! anything! to read that they would gladly read their own coffee cups. Thus, The Way I See It, a series of musings by people famous, semi-famous, and made only a tiny bit semi-famous by the appearance of their very saying in print, so to speak, was born. Interestingly, nobody thought that putting a bookshelf with some books for customers to read while at the shop was a good idea.
Anyway, I must admit that the marketing genius definitely earned his money's worth yesterday-- I went on the Starbucks website and read through every single way someone or other sees it. Oddly, these are numbered 198 to 253. There are also several two-digit numbers reserved for so-called featured authors, who, in addition to having their way of seeing it (summarized succinctly enough to fit on a coffee cup, of course), along with their photographs displayed on the website, also get a screen's worth of an interview. So I was basically that marketing genius's wet dream-- a customer who is hooked by the cup to peruse the website for a rather prolonged period of time.
Julie, she of Great Snark, has already contemplated the road these quips take might take from that fateful click of the mouse to your very own cup, so I shall leave that part alone. And perhaps, as she already so masterfully worked it over, I should leave the whole subject alone. But, as is so often the case with me, I can't.
To wit, there's this gem, #236, from Joseph Palm, a Starbucks customer from Oshkosh, Wisconsin:
Scientists tell us we only use 5% of our brains. But if they only used 5% of their brains to reach that conclusion, then why should we believe them?
Do I even need to go into the explanation of the scientific process and the way we know what we know, or should I just stick with the way-too-easy quip about how some of us apparently use our 5% somewhat more efficiently than others? Yeah, I know you saw that one coming.
Of course, the ones that really raise my heart rate (don't tell my doctors, ok?) are the plain stupid ones. Let me show you a couple of examples, ok? First, I promised you we will get back to Jonah Goldberg, didn't I? So here goes, #22:
Everywhere, unthinking mobs of “independent thinkers” wield tired clichés like cudgels, pummeling those who dare question “enlightened” dogma. If “violence never solved anything,” cops wouldn’t have guns and slaves may never have been freed. If it’s better that 10 guilty men go free to spare one innocent, why not free 100 or 1,000,000? Clichés begin arguments, they don’t settle them.
I will leave the analysis of why it seems to be fashionable to celebrate the anti-intellectualism to those better qualified. I will personally stick with ranting--it's just more fun. See, Mr. Goldberg, he made a bet (scroll to the bottom two paragraphs) once, a bet about whose judgment is superior. As the measure of that judgment, he offered his prediction for the future of Iraq two years on from the date of the offer. The future of Iraq as a result of the war he didn't fight in, because, you know, he had a Very Lame Reason, but had no compunctions whatsoever about sending other people's children to die in-- that war. However, when history, sadly but predictably, proved that whereof he speaks, Mr. Goldberg knows not even a little, he didn't have the intestinal fortitude to own up. So I ask you, what do I care how the man with the truly pathetic judgement and no spine sees it? And shouldn't lack of either one of those attributes, not to mention both simultaneously, permanently bar him from that apparently coveted place on my coffee cup? Or, at the very least, from being a featured author, the title that allowed him to hurt my brain some more?
Look, I get that the company doesn't want to alienate consumers based on their political affiliation, but couldn't they at least pick someone not quite so full of his own bad self?
I have a couple more. Ready? Well, here they come anyway:
#204: Remember your dreams and fight for them. You must know what you want from life. There is just one thing that makes your dream become impossible: the fear of failure. Never forget your Personal Legend. Never forget your dreams. Your silent heart will guide you. Be silent now. It is the possibility of a dream that makes life interesting. You can choose between being a victim of destiny or an adventurer who is fighting for something important. -- Paulo Coelho, Novelist.
So is it the fear of failure that makes some women have undetected ectopics and loose their tubes? Just asking...
#212: Patience is a virtue, life is a waiting game. Peace must be nurtured, and all the money in the world can buy you nothing. Let me tell you that. -- Corinne Bailey Rae, Musician.
Don't you just know that Miss Rae never needed money for an IVF? But hey, don't you know, if you are patient and relaxed, it will just happen? Of course it will.
#229: What is to be will be, sure to come true. -- Peter Frampton, Guitarist.
Do you know how much money Mr. Frampton just saved me? I don't have to take those stupid prenatal vitamins, or the PCOS meds, or even see a doctor-- it will happen if it's supposed to happen. Simple, see?
#238: Have you noticed that dogs are the new kids? You take a walk with your kid and your dog, but nobody says, “What a cute kid!” Instead they say, “What a cute dog! What’s his name? Is he a rescue?” Maybe if I put a collar and leash on my kid someone will notice her. -- Judy Gruen, Humorist and author of The Women’s Daily Irony Supplement.
If only, Judy, if only.
#251: A mature person is one who can say: My parents may have made some mistakes raising me, but they did the best they could: now it’s up to me. --Shannon Fry
Starbucks customer from Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Some parents do much worse than the best they could. Glad you never met anyone like that, Shannon.
And here comes my favorite, the one that made me go to the website in the first place. This gem comes to us from Bill Scheel, Starbucks customer from London, Ontario. He describes himself as a "modern day nobody."
#247: Why in moments of crisis do we ask God for strength and help? As cognitive beings, why would we ask something that may well be a figment of our imaginations for guidance? Why not search inside ourselves for the power to overcome? After all, we are strong enough to cause most of the catastrophes we need to endure.
For the sake of all that is holy, have people not hear of cancer? I get that most have not heard of child loss and think that infertility happens when evil career women put off childbirth too long, but cancer? Or can we cause that too?
All these quotes, what they have in common seems to be the inability to notice the exceptions, to acknowledge that generalizations can hurt people to whom they do not apply. This is what we are, the exceptions. Easy to miss, easy to hurt. Noticing us, acknowledging us, is not easy. And if you do, your quote may not fit on a coffee cup anymore. Maybe I should stop reading the coffee cups then. Maybe. But once is a while they can surprise you, kinda like so:
#246: Sometimes good art is simply creating an honest mess. -- Stacy D. Flood, Writer and Starbucks customer from Redmond, Washington.