I’ve been thinking lately a lot about the issue of straws. I don’t want them in my drinks – they are almost useless plastic things that are harmful to wildlife – but I usually forget to say, “No straw” when I order something. When I do remember, the bartender doesn’t hear me. Or they nod, and put a straw in there anyway, out of habit. When I sit down at a restaurant, the waiter will plunk a glass of water down on the table with a straw in it. A couple weeks ago, when the waiter asked me if I wanted another water, I said no thank you. But he brought me another water with a fresh straw inside, just to be helpful (and get that tip). Even when I was staying at a beach hotel with an explicit no-straws-on-the-beach policy, when I ordered a drink, it arrived with a straw. Why is the concept of drinking without a straw so hard? Is it habit? Is it because consumers who like straws are louder? I have a friend who is very much into sustainability, who is working at a restaurant. She leaves straws out, and she says about 60% of the time people send her back to the bar for a straw. It’s absolutely infuriating, another thing that seems so simple (just say no to straws!) and yet won’t go away. Do I really have to fight a battle every time I walk into a bar or restaurant? I was going to write a whole post about this, but Holly at Leotie Lovely beat me to it, with an inspiring post about her battle with a French bartender. Read it:
Just this weekend, having previously researched the subject of straws, and more importantly had my heart turned inside out by this video, I found myself with a cocktail in my hand and a hot pink plastic straw swirling out of it.
I was at my local cafe / bar, Rosa Bonheur, which is located in the middle of one of Paris’ most magnificent parks. It’s a lovely place to work from or pass the evening with friends in, but it is by far the most wasteful restaurant I’ve visited in Paris as they serve every damn thing on the menu, from water and coffees to booze and food in non-reusable, plastic containers. Whether you stay or take-away.
The daytime issue of coffee cups had been easily remedied by me carrying my Keep Cup, but an unplanned evening return had me plastic-ing it up in a big way, and I wasn’t best pleased.
I looked at the straw and then at the bartender. He was about my age, wearing a neon t-shirt with a depiction of a First Nation’s Cheif on it, along with a backwards hat and a nose ring. I exhaled, and speaking in a tone that could only be compared to that red haired biatch from the film Clueless, I said:
“Je te dis pas de paille, meck”.
(I told you no straw, buddy).
He looked back at me with a cold stare, and saying nothing, reached to my cup and took the straw out, maintaining the eye contact of a bored cowboy the entire time. He then tossed the straw bin beside him which was already overflowing with plastic.
He raised his eyebrow, and with the stubbornness of a 5-year-old responded:
“voila, pas de paille, ‘meck’.” Mimicking my accent on the last word.
(voila, no straw, ‘buddy’).
I immediately contemplated slapping him.
There was a moment longer where we stared at each other like two boys about to start a bar fight, the pink disco ball which spun above us making us look like bonkers barbies.
“Meck”, I said again. * Just for reference, it is uncommon to use the word ‘Meck’ (buddy) in French as a female, and even more uncommon to use it as a pronoun regardless of your sex. My husfriend, who is American but bilingual does it, and I tend to copy his intonations as he’s my language parent.
I continued my attempt at repairing, what I’d broken, apologising for my tone and launched into an explanation about why straws aren’t as gangster as they look. He maintained his same “don’t give a fuck” stare, looking at me with disdain, allowing me to maintain the urge to slap him throughout my monologue. Out of nowhere, one of his colleagues, who I guess had been listening in and perhaps reading my mind, hit hip upside the head and told him to “arrete de faire le con” (basically, stop being a dick).
Read the rest and find out where to buy a reusable straw at Leotie Lovely!