Every cyclist, at some time or other, breaks down and gets coffee at Starbucks. There are only so many hand-picked, fair trade, organic coffee shops with a simple drip for $15.99, and when you need a quick buzz or a place with a lot of chairs and don’t want to be surrounded by people reading Sartre and Hegel, well, it’s gonna be Starbucks.
I’ve noticed that in the morning SB is how people feed their kids. Mom/Dad will swoop in with the kids in tow, order coffee, a junk snack, and breakfast for the children. Some parents will sit down at a table and make it breakfast time, replete with conversations about school and the upcoming day. What about privacy and intimate conversations between parents and children? I guess those are off the table, literally.
That kind of makes sense in a twisted way. You get up late, you don’t know how to fry an egg, the clock is ticking, and by the time you’ve gotten your testicles plucked the traffic outside is piling up and the Starbucks is on the way to school drop-off because no kid walks or rides to school anymore.
What I’ve also noticed is that in the evening, the SB inside the grocery store is absolutely jammed, as is the sugar-and-salt buffet manned by Panda Excess. These are mostly teenagers, who are at the SB for dinner, and by dinner all I mean is “calories.” They are hungry, there is no one home, and they “eat” with a massive calorie bomb and maybe a doughy chemical food substitute. Maybe.
It’s not just Starbucks
Home cooking has long been in decline, if by home cooking you mean “I picked some ingredients up at the store, and through preparation at home converted them into a meal.” This is wildly different from “I picked some shit up at the store and microwaved it,” or “We got carry-out, dumped the shit out of the box onto a plate (or not) and ate at home watching TV.”
People don’t cook less because they have less time. They cook less because they are taught from infancy that prepared food is better in every way. Schools serve big brand fast food, and parents really and truly prefer to eat out. I still remember how my mom worshiped at the altar of Jack in the Box french fries, and how, to this day, the sight of a box of greasy fries warms my heart.
Like being able to do basic repairs on your bike, however unprofessionally, being able to do basic repairs in the kitchen has value, a lot more value than paying an international conglomerate to feed you. What if 90% of the time you took your bike to the shop to air up the tires because “I don’t have time to air up my tires at home.”
That’s where bike tech has been going for decades, in fact: Making things so complex that even basic maintenance has to be done outside the garage, or in my case, the bedroom. How many people can get a disc brake working again if they accidentally close the caliper while the wheel is off?
Boozy P., my ace mechanic, might laugh at the idea of me ever doing anything serious to my bike, but he did actually teach me how to take off the bars and pack it myself in a box for shipping. I only almost killed myself once by failing to properly tighten the headset as I rocketed down a cobbled descent outside Vienna. No death, no foul.
In other words, frying up an egg won’t kill you. It’s cheaper. You got time for it. The whole neighborhood won’t be sitting around listening, and even if you totally screw it up, unlike the loose headset, it won’t kill you.
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