As I strolled through my old Philadelphia block, I ducked into the Starbucks for a reprieve from the summer heat.
Not feeling up for an iced coffee (gasp!) I purchased a little bag of barbeque chips and settled in for a little morning read. Sam Harris today.
As a lady contemplated her order at the register, a man walked up and stood to her right. He looked assured in his caffeinated decision.
A third customer approached the register, this time standing to the left of the lady. Clearly, there was confusion as to which way the line was to form.
This third customer, another man, was greeted next by the barista. I’m sure her eyes looked this way out of habit. In a bustling city Starbucks, efficiency is key.
I crunched on my chips, watching.
Rather than this third customer correcting the situation, and ushering the rightful “next” customer forward, he very matter-of-factly informed Customer #2 that “Starbucks lines always form along the pastry display.” He said it with a smile, and in that overly articulate, pompous college student tone of voice that makes me want to punch people in the face.
Afterward, Customer #3–let’s call him Dick–placed his order without batting an eye, as the other man joined the arbitrary “pastry display” line.
Get to it, Snap. What of it?
This situation is Exhibit A of what is wrong with America.
Now don’t get me wrong: I’m a fan of keeping things orderly. I’m a teacher, you know.
But this was a blatant, Me-First, Fuck-You attitude. And even though it was done in a “polite” fashion, it demonstrated our societal value of dog-eat-dog living.
Should I be surprised?
Our capitalist economy is based on the very idea of climbing your way to the top, no matter who you step on along the way.
In order to gain, someone has to lose. Always. Check the definition, friends.
I want to be the anomaly to these American “values”. I want to put others first, even in the tiniest of ways. Even if I was first, even if I was right, I want to err on the side of compassion.
Because not everything is about me.
My time is not more or less important than anyone else’s.
And neither is yours.
We’re in this together, Dear Reader.
So each day we have one ultimate choice: Is it me? Or we?