Perhaps you considered how things used to be once or twice during the COVID-19 pandemic.
You’d stop by your neighbourhood Starbucks for a quick chat with a barista or even a regular in line.
However, isolation occurred, which exacerbated the reliance on apps.
Chats were banned, and speed was reintroduced.
Starbucks was perhaps the first to recognise that this was the natural course of events. Younger generations believe they can poke a screen and extract anything they want from the world.
Two years ago, the company decided it might be a good idea to open stores where no one stops for a chat and where all orders are placed via app.
Which, perhaps, leans towards the slightly dystopian.
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I came across a small video of one of these pick-up-only Starbucks during one of my painfully irregular meanderings through TikTok.
This is a soulless creature. I’m not referring to the video, but to the Starbucks.
“The baristas are concealed, and this screen notifies you when your order is ready,” the video explains. Naturally, it’s a nice screen.
However, what may surprise you is how much baristas – and former baristas – appear to enjoy it.
“As a former barista who enjoyed making drinks but despised customer harassment, I would work this job for FREE.”
“Oh, this is my literal dream; I enjoy conversing with and connecting with customers, but when there is only one good customer for every fifty bad, I’d rather just do this.”
The third sample eloquently expresses what so many appear to feel: “The fact that they’re starting these due to the poor quality of the customers. Convenience was also a factor… but believe me when I say that ‘Karen’s’ was the primary factor.”
One barista is less optimistic about the peace these stores will bring: “A dream, but customers will continue to yell in our faces.”
Customers, without a doubt, desire a pleasant interaction that brightens their day just a little bit. Perhaps not for much longer.
One commenter on the video stated the following: “I’m not sure why more establishments cannot have order screens like McDonald’s does. Drinks would be served more quickly if they did not have to run a register.”
Thus, we arrive at the program’s “what has become of us?” section.
Is Starbucks aware that a retail environment devoid of human interaction is the true future of, well, humanity?
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Has the pandemic exacerbated customers’ annoyance to the point where many retail employees simply do not want to see them, much less speak with them?
Or is technology inevitably separating people? After all, Amazon extols the virtues of its Go concept, in which you enter, take what you want, and exit without speaking to a single soul.
This Starbucks video was filmed in Raleigh, North Carolina, a city where one might expect humans to be a little more serene. If the concept works there, then it must work everywhere.