Allow me to accuse my generation (b. 1980’s) of being a bunch of lazy, entitled, arrogant moochers who have neither ever known the value of hard work nor experienced the humiliation of failure.
I jest, but let’s be honest: this is how our parents’ generation understands it. Perhaps it’s merely a difference in values. For the Boomers, success is building a career and having a family. Of course, we young adults do love money, but shouldn’t success be more of a metaphysical state than a monetary calculation? After all, don’t we all know wealthy career-oriented adults who hate their lives and look back upon their decades of earning with solemn regret? It seems to me, learning from the Boomers’ example, it’s better to be free with a meager living than to live in the comfort of luxury enslaved under the vicious cycle of consumerism. At least that’s what my SOCI: 104B – Philosophy of Success lecture told me sophomore year.
So here we are, a generation of young people who have sought enlightenment over the American Dream. It’s not that we’re lazy and useless – it’s that we just don’t care (well, we do, but that’s because the superego of Boomer values has plagued us from birth; also it sucks being broke). For the first time in history, it would not be inconceivable to see a doctor of philosophy making coffee at the local cafe.
Are we failures? Perhaps we will soon learn that we are. But let’s pretend for a moment that knowledge is the goal of a higher education, and income is nothing more than a necessary evil quelled by meager wage-earning.
Personally, I often fantasize about moving somewhere quaint or quiet (like Santa Fe or Flagstaff for example) after my higher education and being a really knowledgeable barista – a noble dream for a slacker.
I have come to understand (since sharing the following idea with compatriots) that this idea is not uniquely my own, and may already exist within certain pockets of existential crisis around the country, but here is my proposition: a coffee shop employed exclusively by doctors, where the customers can order a side of academia with their coffee, after which the serving barista steps up to a podium and mic to lecture for five minutes on a topic of their specialty. Tips are received accordingly.
The menu would look something like this:
|Drip Coffee||1.05 2.05||Plain Croissant||2.51|
|Iced Coffee||3.00 3.50||Filled Croissant||4.01|
|Espresso||2.00 3.00||Marble Loaf||3.99|
|Americano||2.50 2.99||Today’s Specials|
|Mocha||3.50 3.99||Interwar European Literature||2.99|
|Hot Tea||1.05||Bartok and Ethnomusicology||1.59|
|Chai Tea||2.59||Constitutional Law||3.59|
Please tip academics/baristas.
The customer would say something like, “Hi, I’d like a double shot cappuccino, a slice of marble loaf, and… uh… Bartok and Ethnomusicology please.” At which point, the barista would make a double shot cappuccino, cut some marble loaf, hand it to the customer, walk up to the podium and microphone, and begin: “It is important to remember that the Austrio-Hungarian Empire under which Bartok was born was a multi-ethnic conglomeration of Slavs, Magyars, Rumanians, and Germanic peoples…”
Then after their five minutes are up, they would optimistically shake a tip jar and cry.
(special thanks to http://jamestranscultured.tumblr.com/ for allowing me to elaborate on this idea after informing me that she had long since been planning it herself)