You Pay For What You (Don't) Get

it would appear that many of my musings are inspired or occur whilst in coffee shops.

this deep thought is brought to you by starbucks.

let us walk through a scenario which i believe we can all relate to.

step 1: enter starbucks
step 2: queue in line
step 3: approach 'barista'
step 4: order
step 5: pay
step 6: get coffee

in a perfect world, this scenario unfolds from step 1 in a rather prompt and sequential manner. after all, it make sense that after step 1 comes step 2 and then step 3 and so on. until, in a reasonable amount of time, you're holding the multi-syllabic caffeinated beverage of your choice.

however, in a perfect world, we live not.

and so, our scenario's impenetrable logic suddenly begins to breakdown. everything still unfolds from step 1, but the fluidity and promptness of the process begins to deteriorate at step 5. here, there is a sort of barista brain fart, a hiccup.

the bone of contention for me is trying to understand what in god's name happens between steps 5 and 6. and, more importantly, why this mystery event--let's call it step 5.5--is acceptable.

after the barista has taken my money at step 5 thus ensues The Long Wait (aka step 5.5). it is at this particular juncture that i have taken value i own--i.e. cash--and transferred that value to the barista with the expectation of receiving a perishable good of commensurate value to the cash i just dispensed.

however, in return, i receive nothing. in fact, not only do i receive nothing, but worse, i am made to wait whilst still receiving nothing for an undetermined, protracted period of time ...the duration of which i have no control over.

this when i find myself asking:
"what did i just pay for?"

to anticipate a critique of this rationale:
yes, inevitably and ultimately i do receive my caffeine fix for the day. but my gripe is not with the end--i paid for that; i expect my coffee. my gripe is with the means--i didn't pay for that; why am i paying a price just to stand there?

so, in this limbo where i have paid for something and not yet received it, i'm waiting in a space where i've in fact paid for nothing.

the next question is:
"why are these 15 other people standing here? and why is this an acceptable paradigm for them?"

other holes people might try to punch in this conundrum involve examples.

for instance: plane tickets.
we buy those in advance. why don't you make the same claim about waiting for a flight to board when there's a delay or bad weather?

my answer:
i'm complaining about coffee. COFFEE.
it requires a process of grinding beans and then pouring hot water through them to produce a drink.

the counter-example involves airplanes.
airplanes are highly sophisticated machines with innumerable pieces, parts, nuances etc. furthermore, to fly one requires coordination on an advanced level. there's the FAA, flight control, other planes, radar, flight paths, etc. finally, weather can't be controlled, nor can it be well-predicted. simply put, flying on an airplane contains a sufficient amount of variables as to require a passenger to not only be un-phased by delays but to actually expect/anticipate them.

coffee on the other hand does not satisfy this 'numerous variable' requirement.

what do you think?

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