May 2012: Starbucks has really got me over a barrel.
Me and DJ Initial P, flaunting our shit-Photo by Evan Ballinger
My usual method of coffeeshop patronage was to choose an independent local business, and they would know my drink, and I would have a little punchcard and get free coffees with every tenth one, and I would make jokes to the employees and they would pretend to think the jokes were funny.
I miss First Cup on Woodstock, and I miss Stumptown on Belmont. I would default to Starbucks when away from home, especially in podunk towns, because it was the best way to ensure that they would have soy milk, and they would use my special cup (here’s an art template for your own Starbucks art-your-own 16 oz tumbler! ) Since moving to Long Beach, I have not found a walking-distance local coffeeshop, so I have been going, with some resignation, to Starbucks. One day, an employee pointed out to me that if I would just register a coffee card with them, they would give me my soymilk (.60) for free.
This is annoying, because Baby Jebus knows that soymilk does not cost sixty cents more than cow’s milk, but I was paying it, because I am addicted to the sweet sweet veg*n latte goodness.
And now I can get it for “free”. Because I’m in the “club”. The “coffee club”. They’ve tricked me. Like the airlines who now offer the “perk” of being able to “check a bag”, which used to be free and now is not.
So I got a card. I kept it full. Liquid assets.
Then, I found out that you can buy coffee on your phone if you get the app. You can wave your phone in front of the scanner like you live in Gattaca. So I did that. And that’s when they really got me. And you can do things like put money on your card through the Internet, and send coffee money to friends, and find out what Starbucks food items are veg*n, and blargity blarg blarg. But the best part is, I got a star every time I drank coffee. I got a gold star, like I was in school.
13 stars. Look how happy they are. They’re dancing.
I win a game by purchasing coffee, which is something that I would do anyway, but now it rewards me for doing it, so now instead of going to Starbucks with some amount of shame and resignation, I am actively seeking them out so that I can get a GOLD STAR FOR DRINKING COFFEE, SOMETHING I WANTED TO DO ANYWAY. People like getting gold stars. They like being rewarded for stuff. And now I am Starbucks’ bitch, because I want to get a gold star for drinking coffee, like a good girl, and then I get a free coffee.
Then they give you a special gold coffee card, just to let the regular people know that I’m not a regular people, that they might toil and sweat for their half-caff sweet double chai frappucino, but that I am one of the chosen ones, and that I will have free soymilk-
FURIOUS POSTSCRIPT, 9/18: I just got an email from the Evil Overlords thanking me for my continued patronage, letting me know my coffee benefits are New and Improved, and that future free drinks will load straight onto my card, like I always wanted, and that I’ll get a free coffee every 12 stars, instead of 15. Also, barely worth even mentioning: as of October 16th, MY FREE F*CKING SOYMILK IS GOING AWAY!
As a spoiled and privileged vegan, I AM FURIOUS ABOUT THIS, CORPORATE OVERLORDS! I am reacting like a RABID WILDEBEEST! I don’t even know if they get rabies! I hope you enjoy the view of me leaving, because I’m not coming back after the 16th! Unless, you know. It’s an emergency.
Postpostscript 9/20: I think they’re onto me, man. I think they gave me decaf this morning. I can’t spell and I feel like I got hit in the neck with a tranq dart. THIS IS NOT OVER, STARBUCKS!
Postpostpostcript 10/11: And lo, the end is nigh. I have commented about soymilk many times on mystarbucksidea.com, and I have “liked” other comments from people who like free soymilk, and now all the other people hate us for complaining about the same thing over and over every day for a month, and they are immediately demoting our comments.
I’m sorry, other people. This is how the capitalist internet system works.
And so, it has happened: if you feel a slight shiver in reality today, the sense that everything was picked up, rotated five degrees, and then dropped back into place, it’s because I have ordered an espresso machine and some coffee, and I am free forever.
And let’s be clear: I purchased an expensive, heavy, large machine to live in my kitchen because Starbucks wanted to charge me sixty cents for soy milk, which I used to get for free when I was special- and lest we forget, another group of people got pretty mad when their tea was getting taxed, and they started a little something called THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, and that’s a little more intense than my latte boycott!
Hell hath no fury like a vegan scorned.
1/15 Postscript: After walking out on the Bucks in October, I was back visiting in December to get an afternoon beverage, and I was the belle of the ball- the local employees said that I would get free soy at their location. I smiled and thanked them for the offer.
Today, I went in for my birthday latte, and got a distinctly chillier reception. It was like a whole coffeeshop of ex-girlfriends, although my latte was hot and delicious.
The Math: As of this month, I have broken even on my espresso machine vs. the $60 a week I was spending at Starbucks, so the next 9 months of espressos are pure profit. I’m sorry, corporate overlords! I’m still an addict! Just not a slave!