There’s a coffeeshop on the corner, you know the one. It’s a local franchise of a global conglomarate conveniently located between your home and your office. Well, I’ve stopped in there every day at roughly the same time for years and this day was no exception. There was, of course, a line up. Now, lines are good for a lot of things. They’re good for thinking about all of the other places you need to be and all of the other things you need to do. I had a drab but respectable office to get to so I could deal with other people’s problems. Lines are also good for thinking about the eight hours of sleep you didn’t get and the morning workout you skipped. These are just some of the things lines are good for. Oh, and they’re also good for selling things to captive suckers.
Don’t get me wrong. I respect consumers. Some of my best friends are consumers! Hell, my brother married a consumer and nobody says a thing about it at Thanksgiving dinner. At the end of the day, I was there in line with the everybody else. So I say this from a place of love, or at least tolerance. We’re all suckers. The lighting, the colour, the packaging and placement… it’s all just so in order to manipulate our animal drives. They’ve got an army of lab-coat-wearing evil geniuses to make us putty in their hands, and on top everything we’re in a rush! What chance do we have? Still, sometimes their clever ploys go too far.
“Made with real bliss” was written in permanent marker next to a smily face on a scrap of paper taped to a little glass dome over brownies by the cash. I was incensed. Who the hell did they think would fall for that?
“And what will you be having today?” The clearly over-worked barista asked.
“I’ll have a medium black with two sugars,” I hesitated for a moment, and, without exactly understanding why, added “and give me one of those brownies.”
The barista nonchalantly complied. Taking my money and handing me the brownie, she said, “You can pick up your coffee at the counter.” I should have just moved along. Instead, I withdrew the brownie from its paper bag and took a bite. As if to say, “You can’t fool me. This is the same old sugar and fat everybody else uses to get us hooked on what they’re dealing!” What chutzpah, calling it “real” anything, much less bliss. Of course, she probably didn’t make them and didn’t care one way or the other what I thought of them, but I needed to send the message to someone.
But instead of seeing her tired, indifferent face, I saw a rainbow. Not just any rainbow. The first rainbow I could ever remember seeing as a child. I was sitting with my mother on a picnic blanket and she pointed up and there it was. I had never seen anything so beautiful. I looked at it and wondered where something like that came from. I had a million questions, but a sweet smelling spring breeze blew my hat off. When I turned to grab it, my hands rested on the soft cheek of my first love. There was so much that was awkward and teenage about our relationship, and yet we were both so excited just to be together, it just didn’t matter. I looked away from her and suddenly things went dark. I was in a concert hall and I could hear a symphony. I don’t remember its name or who it was by, but I could feel something I felt the composer wanted me to feel. I understood why, after all these centuries, people were still performing this sacred thing. One memory after another flooded into my thoughts like this. I also saw and felt colours and sounds I had never experienced before. This seemed to go on for an eternity.
When I finally came to, the coffee shop was in chaos. Chairs and tables had been pulled back and the line was all over the place to make room for the paramedics. My head was swirling, but as they wheeled me out, I could hear the barista say to her colleague, “That’s the third one this week. Maybe we shouldn’t make them with real bliss.”