Thursday, May 20, 2004

OUT AND ABOUT: Starbucks Wants Your Jokes

This evening, I was heading up to my 85-year-old great aunt's house for dinner when I decided to swing by the Tenleytown Starbucks to grab a coffee to kill some time before the M4 bus arrived to take me to the Palisades. On my Red Line commute uptown, I was reading the Los Angeles Times, which I carried into the Starbucks. I approached the counter

"Hi! How can I help you?" the perky clerk, who could have been an American University undergrad, asked me.

I gave her my order and the Times was in my hand, resting on the counter in front of the cash register. In plain view was the large front page Reuters photo a number of wounded Palestinians being rushed to the hospital after Israeli forces filed a missile and tank shells into a demonstration at the Rafah refugee camp. It wasn't the most pleasant of photos.

The clerk looked down at it, looked for a moment, then sneered in ambivalent disgust and shrugged her shoulders.

Then she asked: "So, do you know any jokes?"

I looked up in confused bewilderment.

She continued, real animated: "Yeah, we're all telling jokes here. So can you tell us one?"

I replied no. Then an older man behind me said that in order to remember jokes, he had to write them down. "Sorry I can't tell you any ..."

The clerk continued: "Yeah, so ..., yeah we've been telling dumb blond jokes." She had highlights, so I guess it was OK for her to tell dumb blond jokes.

I shuffled over to the pick-up counter and waited for my drink. As I re-read portions of a Times article about the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association assembling the first cellular telephone directory.

"So a blond was driving a car ..."

I tuned out the frivolous bantering between the three clerks. So now when you step into a Starbucks, prepare to make the clerks laugh. They seem to be really bored.


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