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(81) Viola

I had a further insight into Starbucks mindset: I listened to the manager as he discussed a possible new recruit—a young man, who, by the manger’s account, wanted to be made “deputy manager for the left side of the coffee machine”. As with Napoleon, the manager understood that what really motivates men is not money or women—it’s titles; Napoleon invented medals, the Starbucks manager invented “Cappuccino Maestro”.

He almost lost this young man—the boy, no more than twenty-one, had been offered a job at a car dealership and he was keen to take it; except the Starbucks manager, being the devil in a green apron, convinced him that he would earn more at Starbucks. Fie. Fie. Fie. The car company insisted the kid have a car from them, for which they would take £200 a month from his salary—no such Starbucks benefit, and that was just the start. It’s a man’s job to sell cars—it’s a woman’s job to serve coffee. No man wants to work at a coffee shop and the ones that do—those not obese and feminised—just scowl at you and look surly (admittedly, I scowl at them first—sometimes).

The kid would be better off at the car dealership: at his age he would get a very fine car for what amounts to peanuts—brand new, since they would replace it intermittently (an important asset at his age, undoubtedly better than anything he could buy); secondly, to sell cars, although unpleasant, represents a masculine job; thirdly, surely, even if the starting salary is comparable to Starbucks, in the long run the car dealership offers wider opportunities for faster and more remunerative advancement. Yet the kid, too naïve or too stupid, had been bilked into being a barista—told the car dealership, “No thanks.” Bad move! Physiognomical point: the manager was not camp; he was a man, but he had this weird feminine softness to him; it’s entirely modern this look, not fey—just…soy.


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