I’ll never get over what the COVID-19 pandemic did to the Ollie’s discount chain.
Pre-COVID, on my way to the restroom while shopping, I always sought out the coffee pot that announced sentiments to the effect of “We’ve had a pretty good year. Treat yourself to a free cup.”
Pandemic precautions made that simple pleasure go bye-bye.
I’m sure many of you share my pain. Others won’t.
Despite coffee’s long history and the omnipresence of Starbucks, there is no monolithic way of viewing the coffee experience.
Spiritual descendants of the old temperance movement take a stubborn pride in their “lips that touch brew … will get my stink-eye through and through” philosophy.
Even among drinkers, there exists an eye-opening variety of beliefs about frequency, purpose, composition, quantity and whether Juan Valdez could give Mrs. Olson the “richest, most aromatic” butt-whupping in a cage match.
My own immediate family demonstrates the spectrum of coffee attitudes. College junior Gideon has zero interest in sampling a cup of Joe. Early bird me? I savor a morning cup for the flavor and ritual more than for any stimulant effect. My bleary-eyed wife, on the other hand, simply must have a cup before leaving for work – or to surrender at the police station. (“I think I just murdered my snooze alarm. But it was self-defense!”)
What shall we say about purists like my mother who insist that anything except black coffee is an abomination? Does straight coffee truly dance upon their taste buds, or are they just too prideful to admit that sugar and creamer might deserve to exist? (“What modernist heresy will come next? Will people start bringing bananas right into their homes instead of climbing the trees to eat them?”)
Coffee should bring us together, but elements of class warfare or generational warfare are unavoidable. Folks who keep an economical 40-ounce canister in the cupboard (or grab the cheapest generic java that the convenience market dispenses) look askance at the elitists who spend a fortune every single day on conspicuous consumption of some froufrou gourmet concoction.
The notion is that the elitists are (a) making way too much money or (b) skimping on other things to finance their caffeine addiction. (“I could’ve sprung for a nicer funeral for Mom, but I couldn’t find a single casket with the Keurig seal of approval.”)
People disagree about whether to keep their coffee cravings private or shout them to the heavens. But it’s probably not a good idea to quote the ad slogan “If I don’t get American Ace Coffee, I’m going back to bed” on a job application – unless you plan to top it off by flooding social media with pictures of yourself sharing a bong with the HR director’s underage child.
Don’t let my babbling threaten your heartfelt beliefs but consider the Big Picture.
All the memes, T-shirts, posters and Garfield cartoons about coffee mania are amusing, but what if they’re giving aid and comfort to our adversaries?
Somewhere Chinese students are fasting for a week, performing 500 pushups and solving complex quadratic equations in their heads. Americans? We’re sending the message “I can’t remember which is my right house slipper and which is my left house slipper until I’ve had my first gallon.”
Oh, it’s been a pretty good 247 years. Treat yourself to a free naval base, President Xi Jinping.