Thursday, November 12, 2015

Starbucks Red Cup? You're Missing the Point...

Being a trained coffee-maker (aka, a barista), I try to stay tied-in to all the recent gossip and rumors spreading through the industry.  I'm basically obsessed with all things coffee.  I feel a very deep connection to Lorelei and Rory Gilmore.  I live for articles about secret menu drinks or quizzes titled "What your coffee order says about you." (I'm a go-getter with a sweet tooth).  Even though I work around the stuff all the time, I find myself going through a coffee drive-thru almost daily.  

Simply put: I love coffee...

This is tea... #ironic
With that said: I'm just going approach the elephant in the post right away, because we really need to talk about this Red Cup thing.  I'm almost afraid to include the issue as I'm perpetuating the problem just by bringing it up again.

This being said, I'm going to bring it up anyway.  Why?  Because I put the Lizzy in Lizzy's Luggage.

I'm not going to talk about Starbuck's decision to stop saying "Merry Christmas".  I don't work for them, nor do I feel insulted when hearing "Happy Holidays".  Instead, I want to talk about the complaints on the blank design.

No, that doesn't deserve an entire post either.  I actually want to talk about our entire infatuation with having our coffee 'to go'.

I think we can all agree we live in a fast-paced society.  There's really no other way to put it: we want a lot of things and we want them now.  We've become a society where stopping to smell the roses is no longer worth it because it doesn't make money or change the world.

We've become a society that doesn't drink from coffee mugs because walking to your next meeting without spilling is impossible.

We've become a society that will complain about the design of a to-go cup, before opening the real can of worms:

We've become a coffee-to-go society.

How many people actually say "Can I get a coffee to stay"?  Coffee to sit?  Coffee to talk?  Did you know you can actually get a 'to stay' mug at Starbucks? They will give you a DISCOUNT (#allcaps) for drinking out of the original coffee holder.

So why don't we do it?  It's obviously not because they're ugly.

We do it because we have a love/hate relationship with our fast-paced society.  We complain about never having any free time, but the fact is we never schedule it for ourselves.  Sitting and not doing work?  What is this blasphemy?  You can't make money that way.

Unlike our good friend Donald Trump, I'm not calling for a boycott of all things Starbucks, to-go cups, or drive-thrus.  I would be out of a job if we did.  What I'm saying is there is something really special about sitting and having a cup of coffee.  Let's call these little instances: Mug Moments.

These moments are characterized by a sharing of ideas, thoughts, feelings, plans for world domination, and dreams; all while sipping on a freshly-brewed coffee (or your drink of choice).  Phones are turned upside down; a timer can be set.  The good and bad things from the week are shared.  Life goals are discussed.  Tears might be shed.  Laughing is likely.  Smiles are required.

Conversation is had.

As a proud Communication Studies student, I've learned just how powerful a true conversation can be.  Did you know there's a way to talk about all of those polarized issues without wanting to strangle someone?  There's actually a system in place that will allow us to talk about abortion, gay rights, standardized testing, immigration, the wealth gap and the great red cup debate of 2015 without yelling and screaming at each other.  In class we call it dialogue.  Here, I'm going to make it a bit easier.

Let's call it listening.

Props to Em for being an A+ listener...
"But Lizzy, we all know how to listen!  This isn't a new concept!" Can you remember the last time you really listened to someone?  And when I say 'listened', I mean really understood what they were saying and didn't spend the time thinking about what you'd be saying next?  I'm talking about putting yourself in the other's shoes and accepting their background and past experiences as legit.

Here's where those little Mug Moments can change the world.

Whenever you can, whether it be once a week or twice a month, schedule a time when you can meet and have a Mug Moment.  It doesn't really matter what you talk about: how your life is, your goals and aspirations, guinea pigs, or something more serious like the death penalty or physician-assisted suicide.  A Mug Moment brings two people with different backgrounds to equal footing.  You have no plans to immediately change the world or even each other, but you have the goal to listen and understand the other human sitting in front of you.

I'm a big supporter of people sharing their thoughts and feelings; but make sure you're doing it in a manner that gives those opposing you the chance to speak their mind. You never know what they might say: it could even change your stance.

Truly listening to someone creates a conversation where mutual understanding can be found even in the most polarized issues.  These kinds of conversations can make a change.  If I know anything, it's that our society loves schedules just as much as the coffee we spill on them.  Find one, two, or seven friends willing to enjoy a cup of coffee (in a mug) and conversation with you for an hour.  

Talking may not change the world; but it's the best way to start.

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