How the Rich Get Richer

It made me think I maybe don’t belong in a coffee shop where the customers have Prada purses. It made me think I should maybe dump that high-priced decaf espresso and walk right over to my old haunt Dunkin’ Donuts up Main Street a ways.

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starbucksI saw a tastefully turned-out woman with a Prada handbag and perfect hair at Starbucks.

I wasn’t trying to ‘see’ her but she was lingering at my elbow as we both stood at the small station all Starbucks storefronts have. This is the place where management provides straws and swizzle sticks, napkins and a modest range of ‘enhancers’, from cinnamon to cocoa powder, as well as the usual range of choices in the general cream and sugar category.

 I felt I was holding her up, the way she lingered idly beside me and so I muttered an apology for not doing a speedier job of dribbling cream into my coffee from the tall cool carafe that stands beside the other tall cool carafes that hold the lowfat milk and the regular milk. I thought probably she needed access to the cream too.

But when I stepped back, my own iced coffee enhanced to my liking, I saw more: She did treat her own coffee with cream, and Splenda, too; but then she reached into the mini-bin that held the sweetener in the familiar pale-yellow packets, closed her fingers around a good dozen of them and slipped them quick into that slim Prada purse.

Maybe Starbucks can handle this kind of ‘shrinkage’ as they call stealing in the retail world, but it still made me shake my head.

It also made me think I maybe don’t belong in a coffee shop where the customers have Prada purses. It made me think I should maybe dump that high-priced decaf espresso and walk right over to my old haunt Dunkin’ Donuts up Main Street a ways.

Sure, they keep the Splenda behind the counter so you have to ask for it a packet at a time, but things just feel more HONEST there. Plus at Dunkin’ you’re far more likely to be greeted with a “Hey, how’s it goin’?”  which I, for one, will take any day over a “What may I serve you?” 

You Think YOU’RE a Glutton

You think we’re bad: I’ve been reading Bill Bryson’s book At Home, a Short History of Private Life about how the upper classes once lived and all I can say is it looks like they were even worse than we Americans are, inhaling whatever high-calorie special KFC is now touting.

When he wrote this book Bryson was living in the old house of an 18th century rural clergyman, and so spent however long it takes Bill to write a book  – what, six weeks? Six days? – going room by room through the place, offering meditations and curious facts about the uses of each room through history.

It’s a big old doorstop of a book; Bryson’s editors never seem to cut his words down and as a result I have learned quite a lot.

One thing I have learned is about the eating habits of another man of the cloth who left a very thorough journal called The Diary of a Country Parson.

Here’s what that guy ate at one meal in 1784:

  • Dover sole and lobster sauce
  • Spring chicken
  • Ox tongue
  • Roast beef
  • Filet of veal with morels and truffles
  • Pigeon pie
  • Sweetbreads
  • Green goose and peas
  • Apricot jam
  • Cheesecakes (plural if you please!)
  • Stewed mushrooms
  • Trifle

Then another day for supper he had

  • A platter of tench
  • A ham
  • Three fowls
  • Two roasted ducks
  • A neck of  pork
  • Plum pudding and plum tart
  • Apple Tart
  • Miscellaneous foods and nuts and as also with the previous meal
  • Wines both red and white, beer, and ciderIf he lived today he’d be a fan of Colonel Sanders for sure. That new menu item the Bacon Bowl? Check out the ad and see if you don’t think it’s right up the old parson’s alley. “Today tastes SO good,” the ad ends. And tomorrow? Well we’ll worry about how to get your 600 pound self off the sofa then.

KFC’s Bacon Bowl