Six-dollar coffee and a coming of age
The fair trade coffee would take minutes longer to prepare than regular brew, she warned me with a hand-rolling gesture that implied eternity. She didn’t tell me it would cost $6 for a to-go cup. I was already feeling guilty for not brewing my own at home, for not bringing my own reusable container, and for ignoring the current strain on my finances.
Then, I realized I’d misunderstood her. Silly me. How could a single cup of regular filter coffee sell for what nearly constitutes a basic hourly wage in some Canadian provinces?
It can. And it does at this mediocre cafe. The “coffee agent” reassured me I’d heard correctly. How can a cafe ethically advertise that they offer fair trade coffee when they package it in such a way that it becomes unaffordable? It’s a ruse.
Since the coffee cost me more than it was worth, I am making it into something bigger than it is. I am assigning the now cold, exorbitantly-priced beverage symbolic value as an offering to the goddess of debt.
This is the year I begin my worship of this, the least compassionate of modern North American goddesses. Only by appeasing this deity will I prevent my own head from rolling, and eventually free my own palpitating heart from her merciless grasp.
Her voice resonates at every sales counter, restaurant and ATM. Her minions monitor my every transaction. She owns me. I am her bitch.
Even though Revenue Canada has misspelled my name on my tax installment forms, I must accept responsibility. Even though my ex-boyfriend emotionally abused me following our break-up, I must continue to pay off the shared Visa bill and its impossibly high interest rates. Despite having graduated from university seven years ago with a degree that would get me nowhere, I continue to make monthly loan payments. And then there are the bills, rent and birthdays. There is no space in my life for $6 coffees.
From this day forward, I acknowledge her power over me and my every decision. I pledge to give her what she craves. I will make sacrifices of my own so as not to be condemned to financial ruin and seven years of purgatory. I will follow carefully planned financial budgets and travel only when I am financially secure. I will swallow my pride. I will no longer see red.
As soon as I have my soul back, I’ll have the freedom to save for my future and address my deficits and responsibilities to humanity and my own personal development. I’ll have true freedom of choice and I will get down to business.
For the record, when that time comes, I still won’t buy $6 coffees.