I am suspicious of Starbucks. And I have more than the usual suspicions about which ingredient makes their coffee especially addictive, or whether or not cashiers have been genetically enhanced in pods to be extra pleasant to caffeine junkies, babies and dogs.
I want to see their employee handbook and find out whether or not they are instructing young male employees to flirt with married, middle-aged women. Here in America, we are one of the most highly courted consumer groups, after all. Just the other day, I pulled into the drive-thru for a quick cup in between stops. After all of the usual niceties seemed to be complete and I had pulled the gear back into drive, the young man leaned out the window with a flirty grin. “Hey,” he said, “I hope you have an amazing day.”
If this had been an isolated incident, I wouldn’t have thought much of it. But this is just one of several events where I’ve been subjected to attention that seemed too oddly flattering. They ask superfluous questions about how I am doing, accompanied by meaningful arm-folding and head-tilting – like they’ve all studied John Corbett’s Aiden character on Sex in the City for tips about how to appear more concerned and sensitive.
Either that, or there is something about getting your first few grey hairs and a layer of mommy fat that makes you wildly attractive to a certain breed of men, many of whom apparently work retail. I heard the entire marital history of a man selling me office supplies on Tuesday for no discernible reason. I left wondering whether my wedding ring, modest though it may be, might have become invisible.