Sunday, May 8, 2016

Molehills and Mountains

You have heard of that old adage "making mountains out of molehills", right? I have noticed quite of few stories in the media over that last few weeks that seem to be "fight worthy" causes for some people (mountains) while being less than significant to others (molehills). It is an interesting time in our culture when people can take a random "cause" and elevate it to national bylines at least for a week or so before someone elses  perceived "wrongs" make the national news. 
Within the last few months, for example,  Starbucks was served with not one but two new lawsuits. Before we discuss these most recent suits, you have to recognize that Starbucks has a history of being sued. Much like a lot of big corporations, Starbucks has pretty much had a never-ending parade of lawsuits levied against them. The most popular being that their hot drinks are HOT.

Well..supposedly their hot drinks are TOO hot.  Sadly, for some of the litigants the strength of those  particular suits are disappearing into wisps of smoke (or dissolving hot froth) because one of the more notable cases was dismissed last year which set a precedent for the 1200+ pending suits that they may be left fighting an uphill battle. 

Anyway....Starbucks, undoubtedly, had some pretty experienced lawyers on speed dial for that suit as well as the bevy of other lawsuits that included being sued for discriminating against the deaf, against dwarfism, for spiking drinks with heroin, for copyright and trademark infringement, sexual harassment, unpaid overtime, for one man's penis being crushed, and a laundry list of other slights that have made their way into the court system. 

Poor Jeff Rossen...paid to create drama where none exists.
I am sure you will be happy to know that these hard working lawyers over at Starbucks have some additional job security thanks to two newer lawsuits.  The first was filed in mid-March by two Californians that are asking for a class action suit to be brought before the court for "unspecified damages" with the demand for a jury trial for what they deem as millions of people being short changed by under-filled lattes.

While they might actually have a case due to all the people that are now dumping their 16 ounce Grandes into calibrated beakers to determine how many ounces of brew they are being screwed out of...there is a lot of debate about the science of whip and foam. Not to be the devil's advocate, but what if 2 ounces of milk that is whipped doesn't always measure exactly the same due to humidity or air pressure.  Is "whip" by it's very nature always the same volume? 

Then when you think it can't more unjust in the world of $6.00 coffees, a Chicago woman has brought a $5 MILLION dollar suit to Federal court saying that Starbucks is filling her iced drinks with too much ice.  According to Stacy Pincus, iced drinks cost more than heated drinks but you only get half the product because the other half is replaced by ice.  Starbucks is countering her claims with the comment, "Our customers understand and expect that ice is an essential component of any 'iced' beverage." (NOTE TO STACY: Heads up if you want to prove this in it fast before the ice melts!)

I guess we have to assume that some of those lawsuits and complaints are legitimate. Yes, just given the law of averages,  in some cases there were probably "wrongs" that were committed against employees and customers...., but  couldn't we, also, assume that some people are overly sensitive and making something "bigger" than it needs to be.

The Internet has a way of taking an innocuous events and turning them into a cause.  Remember the Red Cup promotion at Christmas? 
Yes, the infamous RED CUP CONTROVERSY aka Red Cupgate and #itsjustacup became big news on the Internet.

Because Starbucks failed to  put a "Christmasy"  motif on the seasonal cups, the Internet went wild with accusations that Starbucks was anti-Christmas.There was a video made my an Arizona preacher, Joshua Feuerstein, that went viral claiming that Starbucks hates Jesus.  (Seriously?)

Another example, of a recent flare up on social media is related to a NOVEL with the title Meternity.  Meghann Foye, the author of Meternity writes a fictional story about a woman named Liz that is mistakenly thought to be pregnant by her coworkers. Liz takes advantage of the situation, starts wearing a fake baby bump with the end game of being able to take some "me time" off for renewal and reflection.  Somewhere between the "it's only a fictional story" and the ensuing sh** storm that is playing out in the media, was the fact, that Meghann said in interviews that the idea for her book was based on the fact she feels it's unfair that non-mothers don't get some time off.

Poor obtuse, Meghann.   Clearly she has lost her mind to link the phrase "time off" and "maternity leave" in the same sentence, then actually say it out loud and not expect some controversy.    Even way back when...when I was a young mommy, maternity rights were a hard-fought battle and it's a very sensitive issue. (NOTE:  Meghann, you poor naive thing...don't go there. You have no idea how cranky an overwhelmed, sleep deprived, hormonal, new mommy can be. Don't say I didn't warn you.)

BUT...back let's circle back to the concept of people latching onto some individual's agenda and either making it into a  fight or trying to elbow their way onto the soap box. Whether it's under-filled lattes, unadorned red cups or an author's cluelessness about what a maternity leave is,  should we expect that every opinion  has the potential of going viral?   Is there any thought that could be thought in today's Internet driven world that doesn't have the possibility to be so incendiary that it could spark hot debates over all the morning news, the daytime talk shows and Internet comment sections?

I am fairly certain that not only will the irritated moms get past caring about what Meghann thinks and go about their busy lives but another NEW cause will take it's place. Yes, indeedy...the idea of Meternity leaves has already spurred a new cause. If moms get maternity leaves and non-moms want time off, then pet owners need equal treatment. Can we hear a "Woof Woof?"  That idea  prompted  Lindsay Putnam of the New York Post to write an article last week asking for implementation of Paw-ternity leaves in the U.S.

Paw-ternity leaves are actually a thing in Britain.  Five percent of the employers (so it's not a BIG thing..just a thing) offer paid time off for pet owners that need to take care of their pets. Of course, it could be pointed out that in Britain, women get paid maternity leave for sometimes up to a year, so it would appear that they are a quite a bit more generous with their "time off" policies than the U.S.

Perhaps, I should take some "me time", move to Britain and buy some cats....
OR, I could just stay here and think of a cause that would benefit me in some wonderful way and make it into the next big national debate. 

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