‘What’s your name?’ Reasonable enough question. Except we’re in Starbucks. This practice, which they launched a couple of years ago, is presumably designed to be cosy. So, rather than yelling out a number, they can make things personal and yell out a name to indicate the readiness of your coffee. Except who the hell wants Starbucks to be personal? And who the hell is pretending it’s anything other than a multi-national conglomerate that has become a cog in the wheel of so many of our days?
‘What do you want it to be?’ is always a tempting response. But who has the energy? And so I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Starbucks Jane. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. My oldest friend is Starbucks Mary and my brother is Starbucks John. No room for wit, no time for play, just something that’s really hard to get wrong. True, the odd Spanish barista will go ‘Yane?????’ But they’re all being bullied and abused and sent home so that’s a short-term problem.
I’d rather be a number. Data is everywhere. We are forever filling out forms and completing online profiles. CCTV films us wherever we go and advertising chases us round the internet (the same Whistles dress has been popping up on Facebook for weeks like a pathetic, silken stalker) just to remind us of what we want and need and surely must have. So why can’t Starbucks just be efficient and leave it at that? The tiny coffee shop it bulldozed out of the way was personal. Starbucks is, in it’s very DNA, impersonal. The same goes for energy companies and ‘May I call you Jane?’ banks. Don’t call me anything. Just get it done with a smile and a thank you and you’ll get the same in return and then it’s over. Just stop it. Regards, Jane.