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On Straws and Tyranny

July 3, 2019

Why am I still writing? I should be packing. Or calling movers. Or selling Mrs. Fussy’s car. For years I have said this blog is more of an addiction than anything else, and I think that’s proving to be true. However, I can’t abandon the readers of the FLB yet. Especially since I’m hoping to do one last big thing before I leave.

But tomorrow is July 4, and I suspect everyone will be talking about the “top chefs” who are advising against grilling hamburgers. Not just for the holiday, but forever. There’s some tyranny for you.

As far as I’ve come to understand Independence Day, is that it’s a celebration of our deliverance from tyranny. And yet, if you look around, we are far from free. We’re enslaved by all kinds of things. Granted, many of them are of our own volition.

Little Miss Fussy challenged the family to see if we could stay off the internet for an entire week.
Seriously, I don’t think we could do it. Which effectively means, we’ve already become enslaved to our benevolent computer overlords. And then there’s the notion that none of us are truly free until the least one of us is free. But that gets awfully heavy, awfully quickly. Especially these days.

For the sake of finding some common ground, let’s talk about breaking free from the tyranny of straws.

True fact. Sometimes I enjoy sipping an icy cold beverage through a straw. And I’m not afraid to admit it. Nor am I reluctant to proclaim that those paper straws just don’t cut it. But somewhere along the way, environmentalists scored a massive victory against straw lovers everywhere.

Let’s see if I can put this plainly. Straws are not the environmental catastrophe of our time. However, the straw police have found a way to make life miserable for everyone. If you haven’t seen how this plays out, allow me to demonstrate based on a recent restaurant experience.

CUSTOMER: [orders an unsweetened iced tea]
SERVER: [delivers a glass of iced tea]
CUSTOMER: Thank you.
SERVER: Would you like a straw with that?

This very normal exchange may not seem fraught with peril on its face. But let’s peel back the layers a bit. Because in this game, there are no winners.

The server has no way of knowing what their customer thinks of straws. If the guest is a straw hater, now the server has put them on edge. The busy server may have to endure a spiel about how straws are damaging our oceans and that the restaurant should have abandoned its use of straws years ago.

If the guest is a straw lover, the server isn’t being forthcoming with a desired tool. To a straw lover, being asked if you want a straw for your drink, is akin to being asked if you would like a fork to eat your salad.

Should the customer accept the offer of the straw, they may feel as if the server is judging them. After all, who isn’t aware of the war on straws these days. And if given the opportunity to do without causing environmental harm, what kind of asshole would make the conscious choice to use a plastic straw?

I’ll tell you who. This guy.

Look. I don’t always need a straw to enjoy my beverage. In fact, most of the time, I’m perfectly happy with no straw at all. However, when I’m at a casual restaurant and their unsweetened iced tea comes served in those thick cafeteria style plastic glasses, a straw is very welcome indeed. Those glasses are disgusting. They’ve been through the industrial washing machine so many times that their rims are chipped, gauged, and coarse. I have no interest in putting my lips on those things, especially when a straw is available.

Give me a thin glass with a rounded rim that feels comfortable in my hand, and I’d have no reason to use a straw. But those are expensive. And they break. In the grand scheme of things, it may be better for the environment to reuse a sturdy plastic cup for years, rather than replace a fragile drinking glass every few months.

I have no idea.

What I do know is that now I have to defend my desire to drink iced tea through a straw. I have to acknowledge that I’m an asshole for wanting a disposable straw. Although I suppose I could be the other asshole who shows up a restaurant with their own reusable straw in some kind of organic hemp pouch.

Although, regardless if I used a glass or stainless steel straw, I wouldn’t be comfortable unless I made sure to clean the heck out of it. And not only would that require the use of a lot of water, but it would also involve a specialty brush to scrub out the insides of my “environmentally friendly” consumer good. That is just one more thing that will need to be produced.

Is that really a net benefit over the occasional plastic straw I might request? Except now, I have to feel guilty every single time I want to sip on a drink with such an implement. And servers are put into impossible situations on the regular.

All for what, lessening the environmental catastrophe that is our modern world by a small degree? Bravo.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 3, 2019 11:31 am

    Bucatini. Bamboo stalks. There are lots of natural straws or biodegradable straws just waiting to be deployed. And I don’t think we should worry about people getting triggered when asked if they want a straw. The server is already on the firing line when asking people how they want their steaks cooked.

  2. -R. permalink
    July 3, 2019 1:25 pm

    I won’t patronize establishments that serve any beverage out of plastic. If I’m caught unaware, I’ll request a vessel made of glass. If declined, I’ll kindly ask the beverage be removed from the check, and never return. Don’t even get me going on red plastic Solo cups.

    I use a straw for exactly one beverage: milkshakes. With a milkshake, they are an utter necessity (no pun intended).

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  1. What’s Up in the Neighborhood, July 6 2019 – Chuck The Writer

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