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Mar 14

Written by: Greg Runyon
3/14/2009 9:54 PM 

I'm visiting my Mom this weekend.  I stopped on my way to her house at the Dekalb Oasis on I-88.  Got myself a nice cup of tea from Starbucks.  It seems as though Starbucks has taken to putting quotes on the outside of their cups.  I never took note before, probably largely because they always put a cardboard sleeve over the cup.  Good thing, too, since the tea is served at roughly the same temperature as the surface of the planet Mercury.

So my cup featured a quote from Keith Olbermann, leftist blowhard from MSNBC, and essentially the guy responsible for keeping the universe in balance, given Fox News rightist blowhard Bill O'Reilly.  It was a very nice quote, something about not letting other people saying "no" stop you, because maybe they're just not smart enough to say "yes" to you.  I was actually quite moved by it, and enjoyed pondering the possibilities that such thinking opens up.

Then I made the grievous error of looking to the bottom of the cup, where Starbucks, covering their corporate butts, disclaimed any attachment to said quotation.  You know, "the opinions expressed do not represent the opinions of Starbucks Inc., so please keep paying $4 for a cup of coffee even if this quote offends you," or something like that.

At first, I was offended.  What a bunch of macaroni-spined corporate toadies, said I to myself.  How could anyone take offense to that quote, so much so that you'd have to offer a disclaimer?  I mean, it's not like they just let people write whatever they want on their cups, right?  These quotes get reviewed before they get printed down at Cups Я Us, right?  It's not like one quote from Olbermann and all the others feature the Greatest Hits of Mein Kampf, do they?  So why the need to be such wimps about it?

Then I remembered:  People are nuts.  Oh, I'm not talking about you.  You're totally cool.  I'm talking about people who, with nothing more to occupy their lives, are offended at small trivialities that have the impact of, at worst, a little bird doo-doo on a car windshield.  I mean, even if it's the industrial-strength bird doo-doo of berry season, a little time with a squeegee and you're back on the road.

Having done a little (read: the bare minimum) research to get to the crux of my issue here, and allow me to spit out a few hundred words on the topic--I mean, not to get too far afield, but I put more time into finding out just how hot the surface of Mercury is--it seems that there are dozens, if not hundreds, of quotes put on these cups by Starbucks.  I have no idea what the topics all are, but I feel confident that somebody, somewhere, is pissed about something they read on a Starbucks cup, and is now talking boycotts and forming Citizens Action Committees to look into the matter.

So now, after spending the last several hours feeling a bit indignant, I'm torn.  I may actually understand the need, or at least the desire, for a disclaimer.

But, wait.  Have I just spent all this time being irritated by something I read on a cup, so much so that I'm venting to others in a public forum about it?  Oh my God, I'm one of those people!

And having now been sort of hoisted by my own petard, I give up, take it all back, and close by simply reporting that the mean surface temperature of the planet Mercury, and the tea I was served, is 442.5 degrees Kelvin.  Perhaps they’d like to dial that urn down a bit?


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