In Story Fit for Christmas, Strangers Save Starbucks Patron From Eviction

BOSTON.  Niles Oberg hates Christmas music and doesn’t consider himself a religious man.  “The only time I see the inside of a church is when a friend gets married,” he says.  “And even then my flesh starts to creep when I think of all my one-night stands.”


“Dude, don’t EVER leave your seat.”

 

But Oberg and others who knew each other only as passing acquaintances found themselves inspired by the Christmas spirit yesterday when the management of a downtown Starbucks coffee shop moved to evict Len Siklarski, a former financial products salesman who has camped out at a table near the cafe’s restrooms since he was laid off in June.


“Hand me one of the little green whatchamacallits.”

 

“He seemed nice,” said Debbie Hawes, a mutual fund accountant who works down the street.  “One time he handed me one of those little green plastic plungers you stick in the Solo Traveler lid to keep your drink from spilling.”

Faced with an ultimatum from the afternoon shift manager that he buy another drink or face eviction, Siklarski appealed to the better natures of other twenty-something patrons, soliciting donations for a cup of Pike Place Roast that would enable him to renew his lease on his favorite table, or at least a barstool at the counter that looks out onto Summer Street.


“Ha, look at Siklarski’s resume–so weak!”

 

“Did I sell some people whole life insurance when all they needed was term?  Sure,” Siklarski says to this reporter.  “Did I get somebody into tech stocks when they should have bought an S&P Index fund?  Possibly.  Am I going to shut up at some point at let you ask a question?  I don’t think so.”

Siklarski set a Kickstarter-like fundraising goal of $3.80, enough to buy a “tall” cup of coffee and a blueberry scone, but he was shocked when people he’d never met came through with $6.23, enough to get not just a scone and a peppermint mocha, but also leave a three-coin tip in the jar by the cash registers.


“THIS is what a tip looks like, you cheap bastard!”

 

“Pay it forward is what I say,” Siklarski said as he took a moment to inhale the aroma of his hot drink.  “Or at least as far forward as me.”

Newly-Rich Baristas Say “Make Your Own Damn Coffee”

BOSTON.  Elise Del Guardo, a veteran barista at one of the six Starbucks outlets that dot the three-block length of Federal Street, has always brought a certain attitude to her job of making overpriced espresso drinks for impatient yuppies.  “I like to give each customer a sense that, while they may be bossing me around today, they’re still insufferable bourgeois pond scum,” says the 28 year-old part-time performance artist with a sneer.


“Enjoy your iced dolce venti caramel frangiapanno pianissimo forte–it’s the last one I’ll ever make.”

All that may change following a ruling by a US Court of Appeals yesterday holding Starbucks liable to its Massachusetts baristas to the tune of $14 million for splitting tips with shift supervisors.  If the award is upheld, it will mean a new life for people like Elise, who is preparing current customers for her upcoming change in circumstances.  “Where before I was a robust blend of snotty and indifferent,” she says, “now I am mixing in notes of downright hostility.”


“That’s funny–there doesn’t seem to be anybody at the counter.”

Del Guardo and her fellow baristas say they have adopted a more “hands off” policy when faced with long lines of overbearing customers placing orders with multiple variables including light or dark roast, whole or skim milk, foam or no foam, iced or hot, window seat or aisle.  “Given that we’re all going to be filthy rich soon,” she says, “we just toss them a cup and say ‘Make your own damn coffee.’”


“Don’t look back, Father–Starbucks is gaining on us!”

Boston is a major Starbucks market, with 2,460 stores, or one outlet every twenty feet.  The coffee giant has grown rapidly in the Bay State, opening a new facility every thirty-five seconds in 2012, except for June when it took a lunch break.  It is the fourth largest landowner here, after state government, the Catholic Church and Harvard University.

Starbucks attorneys say they will appeal the ruling, and have not ruled out charging the judge with bias.  “We’ve got videos of her buying her morning coffee,” says Matt Daniels, who represented the coffee company at trial.  “She’s been getting extra espresso shots for free.”

Congress Fires Back at Starbucks, Says Focus Like a Laser on Our Lattes

WASHINGTON.  Angered at a public rebuke by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz demanding that they “focus like a laser on job creation,” members of Congress reached across the aisle today in a show of bi-partisanship, saying Starbucks should focus on making their drinks and stay out of difficult issues of public policy.


Schultz:  “535 members?  We have that many outlets in Seattle alone!”

“I asked for just a little extra hot water in my Pike Place roast,” said Senate President Harry Reid (D-Nev), scolding an indifferent barista at a K Street Starbucks.  “Also double-cupped, and double-holdered.”

 
Reid:  “What part of ‘extra foam’ don’t you understand?”

Schultz is the most outspoken of a group of CEOs who have decided to go public with their concerns about gridlock in Congress as a way of deflecting the public’s attention from gridlock in their retail outlets.  “There’s like six vanilla lattes with no names on them sitting here,” complained Speaker of the House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to a young man with sleeve tattoos and a nose ring.  “How do I know which one has the extra shot in it?”


Boehner:  “What do you mean, you’re out of the classic syrup?”

Congress is the bi-cameral legislature of the United States composed of 435 representatives and 100 senators.  It is the third largest deliberative body in the world behind the parliaments of the United Kingdom and India and ahead of Parliament-Funkadelic, a funk, soul and rock music collective.


Parliament-Funkadelic:  “We have a quorum!”

Schultz apologized for getting certain drink orders wrong, but added “that’s unavoidable when you’re in a high-pressure industry that can’t be outsourced to China.”  With 17,009 retail outlets Starbucks is one of the few bright spots of the American economy during the current recession, and Schultz did not count out future growth in same-store sales in the coming year.  “When we hit 18,000 stores,” he told analysts on a conference call today, “we’ll apply for statehood.”

Starbucks Fights Anti-Immigrant Trend With Esperanto Menu

COLUMBUS, Ohio.  Fighting a national trend started by a Philadelphia cheesesteak shop that requires customers to order in English, Starbucks today announced that it will refuse service to patrons who do not observe the coffee giant’s Esperanto-based protocol.

“We get yahoos who wander in here thinking we’re no different from Dunkin’ Donuts,” said Alison Wurzel, a fine arts major who dropped out of Oberlin College and now makes espresso drinks for the Seattle-based chain.  “I’m a barista, not a waitress.”


“A soy chai grande frappucino?  Yes, my gecko is in excellent health.”

Starbucks divides drinks into “tall”, “grande” or “venti” depending on size.  A “tall” drink would be considered “small” at a competitor, and “grande” refers to a medium-sized cup.  “Venti”, the largest size offered, means “air duct”.


Air duct, with extra foam.

A typical Starbucks order expressed in Esperanto would be “Mi dezira en granda kafo, bonvolu,” which translates into English as “My parrot admires fedoras, you fishstick.”

Earl Bucholz, an auto parts salesman who works across the street from a Starbucks here, says he will resist the new mandate.  “Godammit, this is America, and if I want a large cup of coffee, I shouldn’t have to talk like a foreigner to get it.”


Zamenhof:  “I said half-caf decaf, not half of a calf.”

Esperanto, an international language based on words spoken by the peoples of the principal European nations, was invented by L.L. Zamenhof, a Polish oculist.  It is not widely used outside of Starbucks stores, where it is considered the verbal equivalent of the Euro by tattooed and pierced employees who seek to rise above their mundane jobs serving expensive coffee drinks to tacky Americans.

“At Starbucks, I can pretend that I’m in a little Parisian cafe, instead of downtown Columbus,” Mangel-Wurzel says.  “I may be stuck in a dead-end job, but I can dream, can’t I?”

Australia’s Aborigines Fight Closings of Local Starbucks

MARTU LAND, Australia.  There are more than 500 distinct aboriginal peoples in Australia, each with their own language and culture, and each with a traditional territory that is both their spiritual home and critical to their survival. 

“Where will I go for overpriced coffee and snotty counter help?”

“Land is very important to the aborigines,” says Phyllis Rath-Burton, executive director of Aborigines International, a group that seeks to save indigenous peoples from encroachment by development.  “And I don’t mean that in the sense of a bunch of suburbanites talking about the value of their second homes at a cocktail party.”

“No way are you taking away my caramel macchiato!”

When word leaked out that a disproportionate number of the 600 Starbucks to be closed in a corporate cost-cutting move were located in the Australian outback, Rath-Burton mobilized her colleagues and heads of other charitable organizations to put pressure on the Seattle-based coffee giant.  “Starbucks has a responsibility to these indigenous peoples,” she says.  “They introduced them to the ‘third place’ besides home and work where you can buy a cup of overpriced coffee and listen to Norah Jones all day.”

“Is it my fault that ‘Akeelah and the Bee’ bombed?”

With a large contribution from an anonymous donor whose initials are “Bill Gates”, the group chartered a plane and headed to the Pacific Northwest to persuade Starbucks to shift a greater share of the burden of the store closings to affluent East Coast communities such as Ridgewood, New Jersey, and Newton, Massachusetts, pitting upscale, college-educated patrons against men and women whose diet had not changed substantially since the Stone Age, except for the addition of Diet Coke.

“The next Starbucks is over by that dingaroo.”

At the peak of its success, Starbucks sought to have outlets strung across this continent no more than a boomerangs’ throw apart, but food industry analysts say that expansion cut down on same-store sales.  “Eventually, you begin to cannibalize your baked goods and ‘Bearista’ stuffed animals,” says Will Pearson of the Knight-Coughlin consulting firm.  “Once that starts, there’s some risk that your customers will eat each other if their Starbucks Breakfast Sandwiches aren’t produced fast enough.”

“I asked for extra foam, dammit!”

For Gattjil Yirrkala, a Yolngu Wangurri tribesman, the loss of his local Starbucks in Nhulynbuy, East Arnhem Land, would be “devastating”, he says through a translator.  “People in America can go to Peet’s or Dunkin’ Donuts,” he says, his brow furrowed with obvious concern.  “I go to Starbucks with my laptop and pretend I’m writing a novel, which is a great conversation starter with chicks.”

In Return to Roots, Starbucks to Require “Bedhead” Baristas

SEATTLE.  Coffee giant Starbucks, trying to regain its footing by returning to its roots, today announced a mandatory bedhead policy for all counter help in an effort to secure its position as leading “home away from home” for coffee drinkers.

“Oo–Starbucks is hiring!”

“Starbucks really invented the concept of the ‘third place’ that was neither home nor work,” says Leon Masterson of Common Victualler’s Gazette.  “Sales slumped when they drifted away from that as people would show up in pajamas for their morning coffee and walk out feeling unwelcome.”

“You touch my hair, I break your face.”

Starbucks already requires counter help to wear noserings and sport tattoos, and some current employees said they felt the new policy was unfair.  “So you’re telling me I have to get dressed in the morning, come to work, then mess up my hair?” said Crystal Summers, a barista at a Starbucks outlet in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.  “Who’s going to pay for my backcombing brush?”  “Barista” is Esperanto for “trained but snotty waitress.”

Starbucks (SBUX) stock price currently stands at $10.52 per share, down from a 52-week high of $19.33 as investors sold shares in order to afford a venti double half-caf/regular caramel macchiato no foam with an extra shot in September of 2008, which retails for $8.21.  After purchasing a biscotti, many individual shareholders filed for bankruptcy and now sleep on heating grates outside Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks principal competitor.

“Hair too neat–need to mess up.”

Industry analysts predicted that Starbucks’ sales would slump further before hitting bottom as consumers cut back on luxury items, but underestimated the addictive effect of the company’s hyper-caffienated espresso drinks.  “It’s like heroin without a methadone substitute,” says Drug Enforcement Agency field agent Tony Russo.  “We expect crime in the 25-35 demographic to shoot up if unemployed yuppies can’t afford the stuff.”

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