By Tom Quiner
The scene abruptly changed.
I entered the “liberal section” of the Politically-Correct Coffee Shop” looking for my buddy, Joe. A portrait of Franklin Roosevelt sitting in a wheel chair hung over the fireplace. I quickly scanned the rest of the room. They had photos of Che Guevara and Saul Alinsky prominently displayed, in very artistic ways, I must add.
Che looked simply dashing wearing his revolutionary togs. That man knew how to sport a beret!
The portrait of Saul Alinsky was smart and classy. He looked sharp in his traditional suit and tie and sported a fedora, ala Sinatra.
The bookshelf had stacks of his legendary tome, “Rules for Radicals.”
There was a respectable crowd. I saw several folks sipping their coffee and reading the New York Times. There was a disproportionate number of people who looked like they came from Central America.
I spotted Joe. He was still in line.
“This is taking forever,” he grumbled to me.
“What’s the problem?” I asked.
“Take a look … they are totally understaffed.”
He was right. The lone, young woman behind the counter looked frazzled.
“Strange,” I mumbled, “the other side had far more help. I wonder what gives?”
Finally, Joe reached the counter.
“Yes?!” the girl practically barked at Joe.
“Uh, how much is a good old regular cup of coffee?” Joe sheepishly inquired.
Without a word, without taking her eyes off of Joe, she pointed to the menu board behind her.
As she glared at Joe, he tried to make sense of what he read on the menu:
Caucasians: $3 per cup
Asian Americans: $3 per cup
Hispanic Americans: $2 per cup
African Americans: $1 per cup
Undocumented Americans: 25¢ per cup
We proudly serve Free Trade Coffee
Joe was fit to be tied: “Why, why you can’t do that! You can’t discriminate like that!”
“This is NOT discrimination,” the young lady hissed at Joe. “We are simply leveling the playing field by redressing past racial grievances imposed on people of color by the white power structure!”
Joe was reeling. “But … you’re charging Asian Americans as much as Caucasians.”
“Asian-Americans are among the wealthiest Americans. They can afford to pay their fair share so that the legions of our oppressed can enjoy some of the same perks as the 1%.”
“A cup of coffee is a perk?” I interjected.
The angry young woman turned her attentions toward me. She saw my nice blue, ceramic coffee mug, a tip-off that I bought my coffee next door.
“By the way,” I said to Joe, “my coffee only cost a buck-and-a-half.”
“That’s because those, those people exploit their workers,” she sputtered at me.
She was not being very friendly.
I bit: “How are they being exploited?”
“They only pay their workers a minimum wage.”
“How do you get paid?”
She put her hands on her hips and threw her head back and proclaimed, “I am paid LIVING WAGE.”
“Wow, that sounds pretty cool! What exactly does that mean?” I asked innocently.
“A living wage is a just wage. It provides workers with enough money to pay for life’s basics.”
“What are life’s basics?”
“Food, utilities, transportation, health care, and minimal recreation.”
“Sounds good. So how much is a living wage?”
“I have a child. So for my situation and for this part of the country, my living wage is $19.55 per hour.”
I turned to Joe: “That explains why they’re so understaffed on this side. They can’t afford to hire any more help with a wage structure like that.”
The young lady fired back: “Our owner is not a greedy capitalist like the corporation next door. He believes in the dignity of labor and insists on paying a just wage.”
“On the other hand,” I smiled back, “the greedy corporation next door has provided employment for a lot more people than this place. He provides raises, bonuses, and even stock options for good workers. And he doesn’t discriminate on the basis of race. That sounds pretty just to me.”
“You conservatives just don’t get it. You’re all about greed.”
Turning to Joe, she said, “that’ll be $3 plus tax.”
Smiling, I said to Joe, “Still want to sit on this side?”
The young lady heard me: “If you take our cup to the other side, you have to leave a $5 deposit on the coffee mug.”
Defeated, Joe paid his money, left a deposit, and joined me on the conservative side of the Politically-Correct Coffee Shop.
Joe took a sip of his coffee. He seemed lost in his thoughts. Finally, he looked up and said,
“So tell me about this Milton Friedman guy.”