2009-11-25: Pumpkin-Spice Philosophy



Date: November 25, 2009


Brayden and Amrit meet in a coffee shop.

"Pumpkin-Spice Philosophy"

Starbucks of Destiny

It's been a good day for Brayden (aka Nathan) and as such, the suited ex-senator has decided he deserves a late afternoon coffee. Something strong. And so he has come to Starbucks! Of course, there are far too many choices! Extra foam! Extra hot! Non-fat! Full-fat! Half-sweet! What do these things even mean? Fortunately, Brayden is easy-going enough that none of the titles bother him. When it comes to his turn in line he raises his eyebrows at the twenty-something taking his order, "What do you recommend?"

The red-headed Starbucks-uniform-clad girl just blinks at the ex-senator, "Uh… I think you should just order what you like."

Oh dear. It seems she's vapid. With a hrm, Brayden offers an easy grin, "Well if you were me, what would you order?"

The girl presses her lips together and tilts her head curiously, "Why do you care?"

Brayden blinks. Finally he says plainly, "I don't know what I want. I want to order something good. Please make a recommendation…."

A man in a fedora and longcoat enters the Starbucks a few moments after Nathan/Brayden does. He does not immediately get in line, but instead looks around the coffee place, observing everything as though it were new. And perhaps it is, to him. Amrit is not yet accustomed to American establishments, or American cities, or American… Anything, really. Never having been out of his home country until relatively recently, he is in much the same boat as Brayden.

He finally chooses to advance, and the dark-skinned man steps into line behind the customer who wishes for a recommendation. "I would like a recommendation as well," he says suddenly, in accented English. Amrit looks over the menu from where he is, as well, just incase there is anything obvious and simple he can order.

"See?" Brayden says with an eyebrow raise to the barista behind the counter. "Obviously this isn't such a strange request. Your opinion matters to people, so come on, out of everything on the menu, what would you order?" He glances back at the other customer and offers him an easy smile before turning to look at the redhead.

"Fine… well… it's holiday time and a lot of people swear by the pumpkin spice latte…" she begins.

While Brayden isn't exactly a fan of the whole pumpkin spice movement, he sighs before nodding, "I'll have one of those because you recommended it." He half smiles at her before his reverie is interrupted.

"What size: tall, grande, or venti?"

Frown. "What happened to small, medium, and large?"

Pumpkin spice. Sounds interesting. "I shall have one also, please." Amrit requests. "When you are done with his, I mean—" he starts to add on, so as not to seem as though he is cutting in line. But then the question of 'tall, grande, or venti' hits and he is a bit lost. His expression remains free of the confusion he feels at the question, other than a slowly raised eyebrow. Amrit glances around to see if there are any examples of the sizes in the form of cups displayed. 'In America everything is big.' He was told that once, but thought it was a stereo-type. It seems not.

Turning to face the patron behind him, Brayden offers Amrit a smirk. "We'll get two talls. And his is on me." Why exactly? Because misery loves company and this barista has managed to be at least mildly irritating.

"Will that be everything today?" the barista asks in a bubbly tone.
Brayden's response is one word, "Yes." Quickly paying the clerk, he strolls to the coffee waiting area. He turns to face Amrit, "So… not a Starbucks fan? I haven't really had it… well, apparently I used to like it…"
Amrit nods to Brayden after a moment of hesitation. Some might view Brayden's actions as generous. Others might see it as a sign of American arrogance, that Brayden would push the fact he can afford two overpriced beverages in Amrit's face, or dare to assume he is permitted to pay for others. That latter sentiment, however, is rather silly from Amrit's perspective. So he accepts the offer without comment and waits for the man to address him directly.

"This is my first time in one of these. I have yet to form an opinion about Starbucks." He glances to the red-haired girl behind the counter, and then back to Brayden. Finally smiling, he says, "My name is Amrit. Thank you for your generosity."

"You're welcome." Pause. "I'm Brayden… er… Nathan…. call me either," he offers a broad grin followed by a sigh, "I suppose it's a sad sign when I'm not even sure who I am." After suppressing a chuckle, he side-glances Amrit, "Well I hope the coffee's good then. The only thing I remember getting from Starbucks was a hot chocolate about a year ago, but presumably I was here before that. At some point, anyways" Pause. "I hated it. Hopefully this bodes better." He grins as he waits for the coffee to be made.

Amrit hmms softly at the introduction. He does not understand why this man is unsure of his own name, but does not pry either. There is undoubtedly a great deal of confusing history connected to this issue. "I see," is all he says initially. Then, "Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and you may be pleasantly surprised." He glances towards where the pumpkin spice drinks are being made, observing the gleaming metal devices being used.
"It seems from what I have read in a newspaper on my way here that there is turmoil in this country's government. Questions of whether anti-terrorist measures are following correct protocol, a senator missing, and a strange flying object that was whisked away in the night." He smiles faintly and looks at Brayden. "And yet some still have time to make movies and games. This all," he gestures with a sweep of a hand, "seems rather odd to an outsider like myself. With so much concern among the citizens of America, I find it to be quite strange how little regard officials afford these issues. As someone who lives here, do you think you could take a moment to explain to me how the voice of the many can be drowned out by the words of the few? I thought the United States were founded specifically to break away from such a social construct."

"Heavy talk over coffee," Brayden quips as he glances at the drinks being made. "But you're right, these seem to be unstable times. I suspect officials don't take the questions seriously because they're real. The president is supposed to issue a statement on all of it in the days to come. And honestly, with a senator missing in the wake of it all… it leaves caring citizens more than a bit disconcerted." He frowns as he bites his lip. "It's hard to think these things aren't connected, but then, not everyone thinks like that, do they?" There's a pause. "I assume you saw the video with the blonde child?" Who didn't by now?

Amrit listens to Brayden. It would be rude not to, given that he asked Brayden's thoughts on the matter. However, he also considers how fortunate it is that people in America are still willing to question authority. That they do not blindly trust in the government, and are willing to speak up when something seems wrong is a trait that those in many other countries would do well to pick up. Too often in the Middle-Eastern and Eastern worlds, people are too afraid or too complacent to stand up to the people who run their lives. Sometimes with good reason. Saddam Hussein was not the only dictator out there — just one of the more prominent ones.

Not voicing this line of thought, for fear of revealing too much about himself, Amrit instead answers the question posed him. "As I was passing by an electronics store, I saw part of it on the news, yes. I suppose it was only a matter of time before others showed up. I am a bit surprised it happened so publicly, but if what was described in the video is true, we might not have a choice but to show our allegiances to everyone."

He wasn't thinking. He just spoke what was on his mind. People tend to reason away the strange and unknown, so perhaps he assumes that Brayden will think Amrit meant something other than 'I can do things like that girl'. And if not… He was ambiguous enough that it should be easy to say he meant something else.

Furrowing his eyebrows, Brayden takes the coffee and opens his mouth to say something only to close it again. Unlike the general public, he knows that the girl on television likely wasn't some CGI done incredibly well. He studies Amrit for several moments before asking, with an easy smile, "And what allegiances do you hold?" The question is simple enough. He leaves the notion of others alone for the time being. "My point is, the government's renewed interest in terrorism and the video, even if you don't believe it, are likely connected…"

Amrit answers, "My loyalty is to family, friends, and fellow human beings, in that order. I have no allegiance to money, to power, or even to my self. I believe people who value what is truly important are speaking out against those who are more concerned with their political positions, or the size of their bribes, or their appearance to the public. That is what the video was about. Something is wrong, and those in charge are refusing to listen to reason. Thus, drastic steps must sometimes be taken to force them to listen."

Suddenly aware that he may be sounding like a potential terrorist, and not wanting someone to call up the FBI on their cellphone to report him, he makes sure to say at a volume that both Brayden and anyone eavesdropping can hear, "I am glad, however, that the method chosen by the girl and whoever was helping her — while dramatic — was also non-violent. Responding to every injustice with reciprocation can be… Messy." He ponders his own words as he takes his beverage and peers at the pumpkin-flavored drink. "I suppose a simpler way of saying it, 'an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind'." He then sips at the coffee. He does not directly address Brayden's comment about the government and the video being connected. He feels he indirectly covered that when he mentioned that things were 'wrong'.

Wrong. A lot of things seem wrong. "Yes, it was non-violent," Brayden agrees with an easy grin. "And it exposed something. Even if few believe it, it struck doubt in others. Doubt can be enough to tip the scales away from corruption." He sips his latte and then sighs. "Maybe that's the way things will improve." Beat. "So. Did you believe the video?" Brayden's eyes light with a kind of playful mischief, causing his entire face to smile — not just his lips.

Amrit hmmms. "I am not informed enough to make a judgement one way or the other. It would be easy to simply believe or disbelieve. That is human nature. It is quite a bit harder to gather all the facts, assess them without bias, and then make a choice. However, to answer your question, I lean towards believing that she who made the video believed what she was saying was true. Children often lack an understanding of the full repercussions of their actions. She was trying to give a message, not become popular with her schoolyard friends. It would seem, then, that it would behoove us to consider her message, and perhaps investigate it more thoroughly."

Unlike Brayden, Amrit has a hard time smiling. He has seen a lot of things that have taken the smile out of him. Still, he offers a smile to Brayden as he holds out his hand. "I had best be going now. It has been a pleasure speaking with you, Brayden."

"And nice speaking with you, Amrit," Brayden says as he shakes Amrit's hand. "I should probably get going anyways. Lots of work to be done. It was good to meet you. It's not often I get to have a real discussion over coffee." He grins easily again as he pads to the door, coffee in hand to position himself for that seat.

Amrit allows Brayden to walk away, but then he closes his eyes, and in his own head, there is a low, powerful, vibrating hum, not unlike the growl of a tiger or leapord. It accompanies his thoughts as he projects to Brayden a simple suggestion: 'Forget my name'. He never gives his real name to people he intends to remember him. He still has people looking for him, after all.

When Amrit finishes his drink, he gets up and leaves as well. It's time to go looking for his mother.

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