How I’d Communicate My Feelings About Starbucks’ Wi Fi Policy If I Were A Soap Opera Writer, A Hollywood Screenwriter, A Sci Fi Writer, A Playwright, Or An E Mail Writer.
BY JAMIE ALLEN
Soap Opera Writer
(WILLIAM GAY, wearing his apricot scarf with his pilot getup, looks longingly into the teary eyes of Duchesstown starlet EMORY RINGBAUM, who has stopped him from boarding his company jet.)
WILLIAM GAY: Emory, I don’t want to hurt you.
EMORY: William, please, be bold. You mustn’t leave me without telling me how you really feel.
WILLIAM GAY: Telling you how I feel will reveal who I really am.
EMORY: (Confused and worried.) How bad could it be, William?
WILLIAM GAY: How bad, Emory? How bad? You know how when you go into Starbucks and you try to log on to the wireless but then you realize the codsuckers want you to pay for the wireless service because of some oily deal they struck with T-Mobile? Pay for it! Even though the struggling café around the corner, and the one down the street, and the one in Every Town, USA, gives away wireless for free! Because they understand that wireless should be free, and definitely not a way for a multinational corporation that sells $5 coffee drinks—a company that poses as a friend of the community, for crying out loud!—to make a few extra bucks off the poor sap who just needs to send an e-mail to his dying mother …
EMORY: William, oh William—what are you saying?
WILLIAM GAY: I’m saying that if I tell you how I feel—if I tell you who I am, Emory—you will feel betrayed. As betrayed as I feel every time I realize what Starbucks is doing to consumers everywhere.
(Hold that shot for a long moment. Close-up of EMORY’s shocked face … Cue the music. Fade to commercial.)
EXT. CRANE PLATFORM—DAY
(Muscled mercenary RICK RAMPART and French terrorist EMILE LUGARD stand on a platform dangling from a crane over the Mediterranean. RAMPART has LUGARD where he wants him — he’s got an M-16 pointed at him, and LUGARD has no weapons.)
RAMPART: Give me one good reason I shouldn’t blow you into the Med right now, Lugard.
LUGARD: (Smiling deviously.) Because I am handsome and brilliant.
(RAMPART raises the gun to LUGARD’s head and growls his trademark line.)
RAMPART: Bye-bye, birdie.
LUGARD: Wait! Such a tough man you are. I am impressed, Rampart.
RAMPART: (Still holding the gun to LUGARD’s head.) You better give me a reason not to shoot, Lugard. And quick.
LUGARD: How about this, Rampart: I am friends with the CEO of Starbucks. I can get you and your family—including that pretty teenage daughter—free wireless for life there. Everyone else will be paying for it, like the stupid sheep they are. But not you, Rampart. You’re the smart one. You won’t fall for that scam, will you? Thanks to your friend Lugard …
(RAMPART is interested; he lowers his weapon.)
RAMPART: You’re bluffing.
LUGARD: Yes, I am.
(LUGARD kicks the gun from RAMPART’s hands, dives off the platform into the Mediterranean. He surfaces, swims away. RAMPART’s fear of heights won’t let him jump. He stomps his feet and screams with frustration.)
As Jorg the Robot aimed his sensor-meter over the dusty terrain of the planet once called “Earth,” Commander Kirkland surveyed the horizon of the planet’s blighted landscape. He was a man who knew the horizon all too well. His life had been an endless series of horizons, except when he was in space, because the horizon of space is nonexistent.
“Bad mojo, Commander,” Jorg the Robot alarmed.
How many times had Jorg the Robot said this to his commander? Kirkland didn’t care to count. He wished robots weren’t such pansies these days, sounding the “bad mojo” siren every other survey mission.
“What now, Jorg?” Commander Kirkland said, more weary than wary.
“This site,” the robot said, the sensor-meter shaking and flashing in his grip, “people—getting—fucked—over.”
Commander Kirkland turned. He knew Jorg the Robot never used that terminology on his own. He was channeling thoughts from the past.
“—fucking fucked over,” Jorg the Robot said. “You expect me to pay for wireless? Pay? You? That’s fucking stealing, Starbucks!”
Commander Kirkland ran over to Jorg the Robot and ripped the sensor-meter out of his robotic claws. He tossed it toward the horizon.
Jorg the Robot stood there, swaying, his lights blinking slowly.
“That was awful, Commander,” Jorg finally said.
“We better get out of here, Jorg,” said Kirkland.
A second later, they beamed to the ship.
(We’re in the family tearoom. ELLA rests in the chaise by the window, yellow sunlight sparkling in her whiskey sour. Her face, too, is sour as she watches BEAUREGARD fervently pace the room.)
BEAUREGARD: Oh, Ella, don’t ya see, Ella? I’d do anything—anything! I’d kill for ya, Ella. I did—I did kill for ya, Ella …
ELLA: (Sitting up.) Shut up, you fool! Shut up!
(BEAUREGARD runs to her, kneels at her feet.)
BEAUREGARD: I— killed him, Ella. Like he was some dirty rat. Like he was some dirty Starbucks corporate exec trying to make me pay for wireless. I killed him!
ELLA: Shut up, goddamn you! Shut up!
BEAUREGARD: I’m your brother, Ella! I love you, Ella! I killed for you, Ella!
ELLA: Shut up, goddamn you! Oh, just shut up!
(ELLA leans over BEAUREGARD and weeps into his shoulder. Blackout.)
I tried to send you an e-mail from Starbucks today. What the fuck are they trying to pull with that “paying for wireless” shit?
SUGGESTED READSThe Love Story of Our Time, Part One
by Toph Eggers (12/18/1998)
Letters Found on Computers at an Internet Café in Bangkok
by John Bowe (2/3/2000)
The Love Story of Our Time, Part Two
by Toph Eggers (12/21/1998)
RECENTLYOur Wonderful Babysitter is Available!
by Doug Moe (5/27/2015)
List: Classic Wisdom for Your Early 20s
by Jewel Galbraith (5/27/2015)
Monologue: A Guy Who Overestimated Swine Flu Emerges From His Bunker
by Lev Novak (5/27/2015)