Rather than pure calculated joy, the barista should be trained to have his/her mood mirror the customer’s. Often times I’ll trudge into a Starbucks unshaven, hair a mess, wearing the sweatpants and t-shirt I slept in, Dr. Martins with black socks underneath, a heavy coat, and a look of total disdain toward existence. At this juncture, I’m not looking for some bubbly green-capped pixie to brighten my day with a smile that the Seattle coffee giant rented for ten dollars an hour. That’s the last thing I want to see. Does she not understand that I spent the previous two hours in my bed, staring at the ceiling, despising the mere thought of society? That the only reason I was able to get out of bed at all was because as I laid there, eyes closed, flipping through the 2:00 PM channels of my consciousness, I happened across a wayward song lyric that gave me the faintest of hope that outside of my bed there might actually exist a tangible entity that could give contour to my own existence. At Starbucks? Probably not. But if I’m going to save myself from the dark abyss of nothingness, I’m going to need a veggie breakfast sandwich and a slice of pumpkin bread first. But after I make the one-block, two-minute, four-hundred-and-seventy-vivid-murder-fantasy walk to the biggest coffee company in the world (where I will smugly eschew buying coffee), I am not prepared, emotionally or visually, to see happiness, contrived or otherwise. I’m still in the rabbit hole, despite what coordinates the carbon-vessel I control claims in Cartesian space-time. When she greets me with, “Hey there! What can I get for you this afternoon?!” I immediately want her to die. And I know this isn’t right. She doesn’t deserve to die. She’s just doing her job. I’m not saying that I logically wish death upon her. But her (most likely feigned) positivity is like sunlight to a vampire, a tapeworm to a host body, honesty to a corporate office: it’s unwelcome, unwanted, and destructive. In this particular instance, I would much rather the corporate protocol be for him/her to deduce my emotional makeup from context clues (sweatpants slightly propped by a descending morning boner, footwear made for Bonnaroo wrapped around socks made for marathoners, hair that might as well still have a pillow attached to it) and greet me with one of several, mood-appropriate greetings:
“Want to smash the display case with me?”
“That guy in front of you was the worst fucking customer I’ve ever seen. I bet he takes the political process super seriously.”
“The password for the WiFi is ‘Hitler’.”
“Sometimes when I have sex, I have to pretend I’m getting raped to cum.”
Then maybe I’d be inspired to toss a quarter into the Leukemia jar.
NOTE: This does not have to be depression-specific. The barista should be trained to match any given mood, ranging from the euphoria of “I just had a little sex with the girl of my dreams” to the paranoia and remorse of “I just dreamed I had sex with a little girl!