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BY SAM SMILBONE


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Sam Smilbone has worked in the journalism field all his life. He started as a cub reporter for the Harps Foods Newsletter, and moved up the ranks to weekly contributor in 1969, where he focused on enviornmental and political issues affecting Harps foods cashiers and carry-boys. In 1975, Smilbone moved to New York City, where he fell in with such Conceptual Greats as Adrian Piper and Jan Isner (known for her 'Excremental Series' fliers seen downtown in the Summer of 1988). Today, Smilbone writes for a wide number of paying magazines, and takes care of his children. His favorite singer is Bob Dylan. We convinced Sam to go undercover as a Barista, and report to us, from time to time, on his experiences. In the future, he will choose specific events and arrange them to demonstrate our country's problems, but today was his first day. He is tired from standing on his feet all day, and so his wife has agreed to type out his notes, which he kept on Starbucks napkins.


Day 1
I am given a hat and an apron. The apron is a little tight. The hat sweats. I am given a time card, and my trainer, Michelle shows me how to operate the machine. Michelle is like a fifteen year old Joni Mitchell, very spiritual. The rest of my coworkers are stuck-up hot-shot intellectuals. I doubt a single one of them has ever been high.

I'm shown how to operate the bean grinder. My hemp heart chakra bracelet falls in and makes a noise like a weasel caught in a weed whacker. Tom narcs on me to Michelle, which is totally uncool, and I make it clear I think so, by giving him the vibe. My bracelet is beyond repair.

Operating the espresso machine makes me feel like a machine. That wrist motion is so capitalist. All of this cow product -- it really tells you something about the American people that they nurse (off cows no less) their entire lives -- they don't even seem to notice the terrible charring smell of scalded milk until they put the swill to their lips. These businessmen in their suits, the way they treat cows and don't tip. Hooking cows up to machines! Living animals! My boss, Len, tells me I need to move faster. The whole thing is very un-Ram Dass.

If we break a cookie, we put it out for a sample. People are so lonely and afraid, they take more than one sample. They think they can nourish themselves by taking love, by taking in. They'll take like four pieces of the sample intended for everyone. I get high on my lunch hour, which is clarifying. I can make friends with that; I can help people. When they take samples, I whisper, "I love you." It seems to work. Some don't even take the cookie they've touched, others leave without their milk drinks.

By four I am exhausted, I mean really blown. It's nice to know how the working man feels, but I'm really bummed about the way Michelle took out her insecurities on me. When I'm carrying the garbage out, I bump into a Mexican. We exchange fraternal glances, like brothers. I am thinking of developing a line of shoes specifically for children, with softer toes and brighter colors, also smaller to fit their feet. I'd call them 'Kid Shoes.'

Seven comes and I am out of here. I remove my cap and apron and clock myself out. As I'm training, I don't get tips. I don't let it get to me. Everything is cool.






OTHER McSWEENEY'S STORIES
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I Wish I Had Never Gone Through Puberty by Tara Wray
Suite Crimes Unit Under Fire by Ron Singer
New Titles and Synopses for the Next Five Gor Novels by Bart Locart
It's Monday and We're Desperate: An Exercise in Seeing How Far You Can Get by Simply Knowing Television Executive's Names; A: Not Far (NB: An Overly Long Title Doesn't Help, but Perhaps the Ironic Self-Reflexivity Will) by 'Jim' Slade
Dialouge Fourteen by Kim Granger


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