A friend found this article about the boom in espresso stands featuring super hot baristas who are usually half naked and flirty when they serve you your coffee. Business owners started doing this because it makes way more money than having ugly, fully clothed baristas. I guess it was only a matter of time we added coffee stand to the list of businesses that use some sort of “faux-affection” as a valued added component.
What worries me, besides the obvious, is that I think affection is a very genuine thing. It’s something we learn from our mothers and give to those we love. It gives us strength and it makes us vulnerable at the same time. What I think these sorts of operations do for people is that it either teaches them to “commodify” affection or become leery and suspicious of it.
Commodification of something like this implies detachment because the middleman is money. With money in the middle, it ceases to become something earned and looses much of its meaning. It’s more of a physical rush than an emotional one as people learn that they can get it through a vendor. Usually, I think affection involves a whole range of other things that come with the person you’re dealing with, by isolating it away from all of that, we make it very easy, almost too easy, to get it. We also strip away the complexities of the relationship, and managing those complexities, as I have found in my own life, is what makes us human and who we are.
If affection is something that can be bought and sold or used as a tool, then we begin to question whether it’s genuine. Is that girl batting her eyelashes at me because she likes me, or is it because she wants something from me? These sorts of inner monologues complicate personal communications and changes the way we relate to one another as our interactions become less innocent and wholesome.
I’m not saying everyone who goes to one of these stands or Hooters or strip clubs succumbs to this. Neither am I condoning it because in it’s a win (customers) – win (workers, big big tips) – win (business owner, $$). But again, the concern is that it changes things.