Personally, I think work should be abolished. I think it is toxic to who we are as human beings. I think it treats us to not think of ourselves as worthy.
Work makes us resentful. We resent people with low wage jobs, we resent people with high wage jobs. Everyone else is lazy, but me as an individual I’m not. Everyone else is bad a managing money, but me as an individual I’m not. Somehow these half-baked ideas present themselves as truth in our minds.
We fear being fired. We fear that taking a break will have our employers think poorly of us. We fear going to the doctor during working hours. We fear about work that will be missed when we have emergency surgery.
We are not allowed to eat on the clock. Some of us are not even allowed to stay hydrated on the clock!
These are all reasons I think work should be abolished.
Starbucks Fires Employee For Self-Care
Today, I’d like to talk about Starbucks firing an employee who was coping with the stresses of customer service with co-workers on social media. Starbucks comes out and says “there is an expectation that partners create a respectful, safe and welcoming environment.”
First, your employees are paid garbage wages to be demeaned by the public.
Second, your employees were maintaining the facade of a “respectful, safe and welcoming environment.” They were not doing anything to the customers or the product Starbucks peddles. They said nothing to actual customers.
Third,your employees are definitively not partners or they’d be sharing in the billions of dollars of largely untaxed profits. Instead, they make wages that definitely do not cover their basic costs of living.
Then there is the question of respectful, safe, and welcoming for who? Certainly not the workers. The answer is: For customers, for those people that are paying. For the customers putting money into the pockets of Starbucks CEOs.
Starbucks and its customers on the other hand are fostering an unsafe, disrespectful and unwelcoming environment for employees. They are creating the hostile work environment that creates a need for workers to devise coping mechanisms like fantasizing about what they would do if they treated customers they way customers treat workers.
I too have experienced a hostile work environment from customers. I was expected to just deal with it, without health insurance to cover the mental health issues that inevitably arise from working with an entitled and undereducated public.
Customers Putting Workers in Their Place, or Citizens of a Free Society
When we identify more as customers than citizens, we forget the responsibilities of citizenship in a free society. Citizenship carries responsibilities. Those responsibilities go far beyond voting.
We are responsible for creating a world worth living in, but we accept low wages and deplorable working conditions at all levels of society. For ourselves, for others.
We do not even let grocery store workers sit at their workstations or elderly door greeters to have a restful area in which greet customers. No, they have to start in place, stationary for hours each day to make unlivable wages.
Since the start of the pandemic, I have seen more elderly should be in retirement enjoying themselves people working at jobs where they are treated like garbage by both the employer and the customers. It is downright depressing.
Putting an elderly person up in front of a store might seem like a welcoming family atmosphere, but look around. Do you see a family setting or do you see a bunch of low paid workers trained to be robotic and unfeeling? That elderly doorperson helps socialize the public of their value (or lack thereof) so that they appreciate being above the elderly door person everyone ignores as they pass through the entrance. This must be some sort of sick joke.
Is this what anyone wants? Why are we not in the streets?! Please comment and let me know.
Coping Mechanisms of Customers and Citizens
Using social media for stress relief is what we have available to us today. Thisis the individualized means with which to deal with life’s stresses. Just sit back on the couch or the bus or wherever and scroll. Awww look at all the “sexy” children shaking their asses, kitties, and titties; awww look at all the “sexy” adults shaking their asses, kitties, and titties; how cool are all those young adults guzzling unsafe levels of liquor; “wow that’s crazy!” all those people doing dangerous stunts; “ohh I’m so jealous” of those travel photos and videos; and so many other toxic behaviors that are representative of a civilization in decline.
The hyper sexualization of bodies are our youth’s participation in rape culture. This is not about empowerment. Presenting yourself in a child-like way for the white-male gaze is not empowerment. The self-destructive behaviors as mechanisms for coping with stresses while trying to impress others for “likes” is just mimicking the dehumanization of yourself in the private space of your life. The travel photos, so many travel photos, are intentionally making you jealous. These feelings and behaviors represent a civilization in decline.
Sure we enjoy looking at all these things, but we make a mistake if we do not critically reflect on how they impact us. They have negative impacts even if we think we are enjoying these things. It all comes back to that idea of customer versus citizen.
Customers are marketed to by appealing to the worst parts of the human experience today because that can be used as a means of relief from the stresses of life. Citizens on the other hand are engaged in transforming those negatives into positives by directly engaging with the questions how does this impact my life, is it what is best for me, and can we change things?
Why are we not acting to save our civilization again?
Watching adorable animal videos is easy. It makes us feel those joys we otherwise do not feel because we are too busy working to pay for a house that we need to live in in order to survive so we work. It is all some sort of comic-tragedy.
I know there is so much more to life, but I want other people to know there is so much more.
Thinking about the conditions that influence our life is hard when we are given this plastic straws will save us from climate change narrative. This narrative takes all the most important actors out of the conversation so that individuals become the issue, only not the individuals that run the corporations and make the decisions that necessitate me buying a cola inside a disposable styrofoam cum that I drink through a plastic straw punched through a plastic lid. No, those individuals and their decisions get to be hidden behind a facade that individuals are not there inside those companies. How convenient.
Having to understand how life works as something complex is hard. It is so much easier to make claims about simple causal relationships, such as people are poor because they are lazy and people are fat because they are lazy.
Everything is simple until it comes to you and your situation, then you want sympathy for how hard life is and the complexities of your life. I use your here, but if you are reading this that does not apply to you. It is an abstract your, applying to those that use this logic.
There are whole conversations happening everyday around this question of what is wrong with the United States? How can these people think they are free as they send their children to death traps called schools, tell them to get a job when they are still children, expect them to work multiple jobs while indebting themselves to pay tuition to an institution of higher education they do not have the luxury of actually attending because they are too busy working a dead end job, then expect them to work until their dying day because they should plan on not having the social safety nets their parents generation have so conveniently ripped away.
Yet, Americans do not act. They continue to despise the poor, celebrate rugged individualism, and embrace extreme competition and even more extreme brutality. We need an action plan.
Taking action means recognizing the worker as a human being. It means treating the worker with dignity and respect. Not just a hi, hello, how are you at the front counter. Not a fucking tip in the tip jar.
It means advocating for any number of nameless workers, especially workers you cannot ever meet or see. The ones in the field, the ones sewing the coffee sacks, the ones porting those heavy sacks on their backs into shipping containers, the longshoremen on the transport ships, and so many others.
Starbucks is more than a nuisance company on every corner, as the humourous quip goes.
“It damaged the company” says manager to now fired worker.
Starbucks has so many other issues than a worker coping with the stresses of preparing peoples’ coffee.
In this case, Starbucks claims the worker’s TikTok post damaged the company. What a load of shit. I call bullshit, front right and center.
Any publicity is good publicity right?
Apparently not in this case. I mean why would you want the public knowing you support your workers? And what a fucking insult to label workers partners.
But Starbucks has a corporate culture where their employees are trained as though they are employed at a real corporate office. They have a dress code and distinct aprons for workers based on their status. This pseudo corporate job is most well known for putting a beverage in a disposable cup. This job should be respected and well compensated, but let’s not pretend there is anything intellectual behind it.
Fuck you Starbucks, you’re a shit company exploiting people from the field where that coffee is grown to the roasting locations to the workers in each cafe to the customers.
Oh, you didn’t know about Starbucks slave labor problem? I’ve been to a plantation in Costa Rica. I’ve seen how people live. Costa Rica isn’t even a location known for slavery connected to Starbucks.
I’ve worked with health workers in Costa Rica and seen how many women suffer from very simple medical conditions but are unable to afford the antibiotics to remedy their e.g. urinary tract infections. UTIs were the most common issue we found in the population living in the shadow of Starbucks multibillion dollar coffee industry.
Each day our bus drove by the big coffee processing facility. Then we met with the people living in its shadows.
Most coffee is produced on small scale operations, but to have the standardization Starbucks expects, it has to be large plantations even if it is pretend fair trade, environmentally friendly, etc.
I have visited coffee farms in other parts of Latin America too. They have small numbers of local resident workers living in deplorable conditions and import large numbers during the harvest season. Those workers sleep on concrete floors or single 1 X 6 inch boards raised just above the floor. Their “homes” are living spaces of about 9 feet by 9 feet in a warehouse for workers where each “home” is created at the expense of the worker by simple tarps strung up to create some semblance of privacy.
Meanwhile, Starbucks has sustainability seals on their products. Unfortunately, sustainability does not mean their workers can live sustainably. But they have a sustainable profit margin, so it is almost like the label has meaning. This semantic game is a favorite strategy of these large firms. It is too easy to fool the public.
While the boundaries of the Starbucks plantation might be technically certifiably sustainable in terms of environmental conditions. Laborers are not living in sustainable conditions. This effectively means that companies like Starbucks are not creating sustainability and their sustainable farm is unsustainable because of what workers have to do to survive.
That being said, certain components of Starbucks certifications do consider labor conditions! The fact that these labor practices and conditions exist on plantations that Starbucks contracts with and purchases from makes these certifications dubious. But the average consumer will never hear about these reports on the news, even if they are being reported. What a time to be alive.
Sources of news no long report on news. The news itself has transformed into a means of social media. Everyone is chasing likes. The shortest tidbit of information that is the most inflammatory wins the screen.
To conclude, people need to be better citizens of the world. They need to spend time reflecting on their lives and how their choices connect them to the larger world.
The case of the fired Starbucks employee is unfortunate. The employee enjoyed his position. He should not be held single-handedly responsible. Starbucks allows employees to be treated this way. Other people look down on their employees as inferior and Starbucks has only reinforced that perception.
These are real people. They are deserving of being treated with dignity and respect. Perhaps as a civilization we ought to start thinking about what does it mean to be a citizen and how do I practice the values of citizenship.
If you want to enjoy your coffee in a vessel from a smaller company that supports sustainability, check out Tree Tribe. For every sale, they plant a tree!