There is a chain of very chichi, pretentious coffee shops that I will never visit again. The last time I went there, I ordered a very large libation with a pseudo European name. I was asked to pay an exorbitant sum, give my name to the “barista,” and stand at the end of the counter, as Hogwarts graduates prepared a drink that could wean the gods off their nectar.
Finally, when it was done, a pimply teenager handed me a paper cup on which my name had been misspelled. It weighed nothing. Nothing.
I took off the lid and peered inside. Six inches of froth covered one shameful little spoonful of coffee.
“What is this?” I asked, barely able to contain my anger and my disbelief.
“Your latte,” answered the teenager contemptuously.
“Shouldn’t my $4.00 latte hold more than a shot of coffee?”
“We’re known for our foam.”
If I become as rich as Daddy Warbucks, I’ll never visit that establishment again.
I don’t like foam. I like coffee. I like substance. I don’t order beer for the head, I order it for the beer. I do not buy sundaes because I’m a fan of whipped cream; I buy them for the ice cream.
When did we become a society that values froth more than matter?
Think about it. You’ll see it in every facet of life.
Go read a college curriculum. You’ll find an abundance of courses like “Science for Artists,” but you’ll have a hell of a time finding more than a class or two in quantum physics, or bioinformatics.
Ask a friend about politics. You’ll often find values informed by what people have heard from celebrities, but it won’t be easy to find anyone whose political views came from studying social science, or reading economics.
Look at our corporate priorities. When did brand advancement become more important (and better remunerated) than research and development?
Ask the people you know about their relationships. So many will tell you they prefer hook-ups to commitments, which are much too complicated and time-consuming. Are they really so satisfied with sexual calisthenics that they’re willing to forgo the fulfillment of a lasting love?
No wonder our souls are so hungry!