Thursday, November 07, 2002

The staff of my local Starbucks has changed: I think this is because Croydon has just changed from being a one Starbucks town into being a two Starbucks town, and the experienced staff have been sent off to run the new store. The very pleasant young woman who served me today looked at the newspaper I was carrying, pointed to the copy of The Times that I was carrying, and asked me what I thought of the Republicans taking over. I said I didn't think that it mattered much for the war, as the key resolution had been passed before the election. I said I didn't think it was a terribly positive development for international trade, given Bush's record on the issue. She looked at me and said that she was really a bit frightened by the way "that country" had behaved over the last year or so. I commented that being brutally and savagely attacked will do that to you. My smile did not leave my face at any point. I had come into the shop to enjoy my cup of coffee, and she was a perfectly pleasant young woman. And after all, I cannot imagine that she was the sort of person who would throw bricks through the windows of Starbucks.

At this point, the woman I think may have figured out that she and I did not perhaps share opinions on the United States, and she smiled at me, and stated that she wished me a good morning and stated that she hoped I enjoyed my coffee. I will give her points for knowing that there is a good time to back out of a conversation. I would have thought, however, that one of the fundamental rules of retail is to never start a conversation about religion or politics with a customer, as you never know where it is going to go. After all, I could have been a Nazi, or the king of Albania in exile, or a Scientologist, or a Mormon. (Actually, not a Mormon. However, if you go into the one city that was built in the US for religious reasons, Salt Lake City, and you go to the centre of the city, you will find the Mormon temple complex. If you go across the road from the front gate, you find a Barnes & Noble. If you go up a set of stairs in this Barnes & Noble, you will find a Starbucks, where you can buy yourself an excellent latte. I think this speaks well of the Americans, personally).

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