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PAUL JOHNSON GOES TO STARBUCKS

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AND INADVERTENTLY DERAILS A MAJOR CORPORATE PROGRAM

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

As part of its larger initiative to drive customer discussions of race in our society, Starbucks recently instructed its employees to stop writing "Race Together" on the company's cups. According to their public statements, that decision was not because of any backlash to the campaign. We, however, have acquired a transcript of a recent customer interaction in an Atlanta store that suggests otherwise.

STARBUCKS BARISTA: I've got a venti no-shot latte here for Pearl?

PAUL JOHNSON: Right here. Though I don't believe we're on a first name basis.

BARISTA: You do realize this is just a cup of steamed milk, right?

JOHNSON: I do, and my drycleaner only charged me fifty-five cents for it so long as I brought my own milk. Course, he got shut down for health code violations last week. Damn government killing small businesses and forcing me to pay corporate prices for my morning foam. Freedom's eroding every day. I wouldn't even use this cup if I had my druthers. Just take it straight from the iron. Key's to set it to Wool.

JOHNSON: This some sorta challenge, son?

BARISTA: Actually, it's part of a new campaign. We're being encouraged to talk to our customers about issues of race and inequality.

JOHNSON: Hell, you can't have a race without inequality. Otherwise the Olympics would just be one big tie. What'd be the point? Put every country up on the gold medal stand together and play the anthems all at once? We need to be focusing on how to beat that Usain Bolt straight up, not changing the rules.

BARISTA: No, not a running event. We're talking about the different challenges facing people of color, for instance.

JOHNSON: You mean uniforms? Yeah, I think we should do away with them as well. Let football be fully nude, the way it was meant to be. Coaches, too. Don't tell me we can't figure out how to make it work. These apparel companies just don't have any incentive to support that kind of change.

BARISTA: I'm not explaining it well. Let me start over. Do you have any thoughts on what the biggest hurdles are to making us a truly United States?

JOHNSON: Housing, for one.

BARISTA: Great point! Discriminatory lending practices and the failure of property ownership as a form of social mob-

JOHNSON: No, I mean we shouldn't have housing at all. You know what other animals need a roof over their heads? Rodents. Now, son, I respect the mole as a creature. That extra thumb is a great way to keep the ball secured. But I'm not looking to subsist on a diet of earthworms and nuts.

BARISTA: I mean...neither am I?

JOHNSON: Of course not. You've seen bait prices. They're the beef jerky of the soil. So if I don't need a mole's diet, what do I need with his impulse to create shelter? Just let folks live out in the open. Houses are just something the insurance company tricks you into thinking you need. Don't actually serve any useful purpose.

BARISTA: And that's going to eliminate racism how?

JOHNSON: Son, that's the third time you've challenged me. Now I'm going home to get my tennis shoes, and I'll be back in an hour. Then we're gonna go out in that parking lot and see who's got the kind of foot speed that wins games.

BARISTA: (sighing) You're going to be nude except for the shoes, I'm guessing.

JOHNSON: Like an Ancient Greek.