When I was at a local Starbucks a few days ago I encountered a rather talkative barista who had been engaging in several loud conversations with waiting customers and fellow employees. I like chipper people who make the mornings a little more enjoyable for those around them, but "chipper" isn't exactly how I'd describe this woman. "Boisterous" is a better word.
Her first set of musings were an atonal exercise of nonsensical pretension on the business of "Brangelina" and some gossip about Tom Cruise and "Surri", which I assume is his child's name or some heightened state of being in Scientology.
She seemed to be making conversation with those who were looking at her, so I proceeded to look at my shoes while waiting for my delicious hot beverage. The exuberant barista rambled on, and on, and on for the next five minutes about all manner of important topics like American Idol, her roommate's new lap dog, and an ardent plea for her yet unknown and future husband to buy her some collagen injections for her lips (I infer she wants her future husband to be an imbecile with more money than common sense, who is not wrapped up in the looks, depth, character, or intelligence of his future wife). I digress....anyway....
This collagen comment gave way to her thoughts on France, and how it is such a wonderful country. As she began to expound on her reasoning for arriving at this conclusion, I looked up from my shoes and made direct eye contact, hoping beyond hope that she would call on me for the "customer validation" of her summation.
She launched into a very eloquent endorsement of the social programs the government of France had to offer its citizens, and how her future simpleton of a husband would certainly move their family to the Corsic Coasts of "La Surdouee."
The crux of her argument for France's social superiority was this: if she were to have problems looking after her kids, she could call the government and they would send-over a government nanny while she went out and took a day off to get her hair done. As she said, "how great is that?" she locked eyes with me for a nod of approval...and joy filled my heart.
I smiled warmly and said, "Sounds almost too good." She responded, "I know. Totally!"
"Yes, totally." I agreed. "It is, in fact, too good to be practical." "Huh?" she said. "Well put." was my retort before launching into my interpretation of France's financial folly.
"France has been running on a $160 billion national deficit yearly since 1993. It has a national debt of nearly $1.2 trillion, which is roughly 1/4 America's national debt, but France's economy is 1/7 that of America. In other words, France is running itself into the ground economically, hastened by programs like government nannies and the fact that every worker in France gets 3 months paid vacation," I concluded. She replied with an exasperated tone, "That's the best part about it, and you're Mr. Downer."
"Well, that's not all," I continued. "France's economy is collapsing in on itself like a dying star because it simply doesn't have the money to continue this kind of spending with that little work being done to sustain the economy. They also have an immigration crisis from the south with Moroccan refugees (who are Islamic), which leads to religious conflicts, which leads to national security problems, which means more money to address a very dangerous issue, which worsens the economy, which speeds up the collapse.
Look, I'm all for mothers taking a day off because they deserve it and need it, but I'm saying if you kept your tax dollars instead of giving it to the government, you could pay a private nanny $40 a hour and still make out better than the current system in France."
The young barista rolled her eyes and sarcastically suggested that I, "go call France and tell them what they're doing wrong. I'm sure they'll listen to you."
"I would do that, but I'm afraid they'd surrender." I replied.
My comment garnered lots of laughs from people in close proximity to the bar, and it may have made my insipid recitation of facts about France's economy "worth it" to some who were forced to listen, but what happened next changed my already strong sense of service and duty to a level I am still trying to process.
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