Dear readers, allow me to tell of a truly awful set of circumstances. It is, as you know, the season for internship applications. I know, I know, if I were in your position, I wouldn’t either. But you must keep reading.
The story begins one day as I sat at the Missing Bean. Extremely flattering turtle – check, bitterly elitist coffee – check, the week’s magnificent edition of Cherwell – most definitely check. It’s the early afternoon and the stuffy heat of the café is thick enough to make the ‘atmosphere’ almost tangible. It is the bubbly Oxford illusion embodied, where hot air seems substantially real.
Because it is the Oxford illusion par excellence I stress the ‘almost’. Oxford’s rarefied airs compose clouds that one alas can never catch. It is also the place where floaty dreams get punctured by stony spires. Right on cue, as I raised the liquid punishment that is my double espresso, a wave of icy malevolence broke onto the shores of my island-like pretension (that is to say, solitary.)
I attentively peered over the rim of my cup and gulped in horror. An incarnation of evil had just walked in. We’re talking about the sort of person who wears their utter worthlessness on their sleeve – literally, they dress like the H&M catalogue that befits their shameless boringness. I had to act. Cup at the ready, I made my attack.
“Oh sorry, did I spill my coffee on your (chromatically subnormal combination) of chinos and hoodie. I’m, so terribly sorry”.
The reference to a soulless commercial retailer is not passing. The villain in question had not only dared to invade this sacred space but had the audacity to betray a certain sense of buoyancy. It’s that buoyancy that the blaring soundtrack of H&M megastores attempts to enforce upon you, confusing your shopping experience with a trip to Wahoo. Or perhaps Wahoo is trying to confuse you into thinking you’re going to H&M – I don’t know. In any case, the smile on his face was as fake, miserable and momentary as any club that promises a ‘good time’. He needs to smile so that we might be believe that he is in possession of the satisfaction that is missing. Woe is me, if only he knew how hollow he is.
“Mate,” he said to his accomplice (for our purposes, lets call him H&M 2), “I just heard back from *insert anonymous management, legal, relations, trading, money corporate neoliberal capitalist something*”. H&M 2 appeared visibly animated. “Really, ‘mate’, like what did they say, ‘mate.’” The villain’s empty eyes flash. It’s like the moment on a stormy night in the middle of nowhere when the flash of a lightning bolt momentarily reveals the void around it. “Yeah, like legit, yeah ‘mate’; *insert anonymous management, legal, relations, trading, money corporate neoliberal capitalist something* said they so wanted to take me.”
And that’s when I got mad. A coffee cup results when you push water with 16 bars of pressure at a temperature of 92.7 degrees centigrade through 20 grams of meticulously selected, roasted and ground Arabica coffee. It also contains my spit. A coffee cup is the product of a brutally systematic process. It also contains the product of one’s most sordid and intimate biological depths. It is ironic that in attacking H&M 1 and 2, the weapon of choice was the synthesis of myself and the system.
Its impossible to understand how Mr H&M so happily accepts the system. Because of that, I hate him. Like my coffee cup – he can mix the most repugnant depths of himself with the produce of a murky, ethically questionable and ironically international system.
He’s happy to spend ten of his best years living in zone 78 of greater greater greater London in a semi-impervious box in order that he might spend half his monthly salary to perform a two-hour commute to a soul-crushing office at which to beg his manager for the opportunity to work past 22:00 in order to edge out the equally tortured competition.
He’s happy to forego his friends and family by living out his frustrations over cheap water cooler talk and indiscriminate office sex. He’s happy to delude himself that the problems of the world will be solved by the ethically responsible corporate outreach of *insert anonymous management, legal, relations, trading, money corporate neoliberal capitalist something*. He’s happy that the company-funded mindfulness session will be adequate reparation for the impoverished wreck of an existence that the simple quest of a reasonable living will cost him. But most of all, he’s happy that what he’s doing is what he ‘wants’ to do. The lesson I learned, dear reader, is not that we need the revolution, nor that we need to accept the inevitable submission. No the lesson is, I shouldn’t have wasted the coffee – it might be the last I can afford