Friday, September 19, 2014

Starry-Eyed in Starbucks

I’m a pretty adventurous guy.

I mean, I drove to Brooklyn last week and everything.

Even walked around Coney Island for a while…you know…until I got scared.

Not that there was anything to be scared of…it’s just a boardwalk and a beach.

But that funny face guy is kind of scary.

Kind of looks like my old chemistry teacher.


Anyway, I consider myself an adventurous sort…within reason.

Like you won’t catch me going into a Starbucks or anything.

Nope…not me…not since the 90s.

One, because I don’t really like it…unless I’m in the mood for a beverage that tastes like it’s been sitting on the burner since last weekend.

And two…I don’t need to be laughed at by a bunch of scraggly faced teenagers in aprons…nope, not me…not again.

But sometimes you don’t have any choice, especially if the only other alternative is the Gas N Sip across the street.

All I wanted was a small coffee…milk, two sugars…some sort of utensil, a spoon or a stick to stir it with, and a top so I can pretend I’m not going to spill it on my shirt or all over my car.

How hard could that be?

But that’s where all the anxiety sets in.

Because you apparently can’t order just a small coffee at Starbucks.

If you order a small coffee at Starbucks you get a response along the lines of… “Short or tall?

To which I reply…”Not that’s it’s any of your business, but I’d say I’m more along the lines of average, amongst the general population.”

“Room or no room?”

“Uh…no thanks…I’ll just take the coffee.”

To which the scraggly faced fellow sneers, shakes his head and shouts out…. “One tall Americano, regular.”

To which I say nothing, yet am at once annoyed that my nationality is of any significance but pleased that he considers me “tall”, and befuddled by the fact that he can tell I’m regular…which I least that day.

As I pay, standing there, waiting to receive my coffee, I’m a bit distracted by the grunts and sighs of the people standing behind me. I’m not really sure what their problem is, but then the scraggly face guy, who I happen to hear called, Barista—I guess it’s a European name— by someone in the back, shouting, “Hey, Barista, tell that guy to step up.”

To which, Barista replies, “Please step up, sir.”

Which annoys me, because again, another reference to my height, which is uncalled for….

Finally I realize that Barista is not going to bring me my coffee, because apparently that’s someone else’s job.

So I wander down the counter where I see another half dozen or so equally confused, starry-eyed but brave, coffee souls, same as myself, hoping to retrieve something that resembles their morning beverage of choice.

First one up is “Half-caf grande mocha cap, wet!”

Nobody moves….

Then the rest start coming fast and furious, sounding something like this…maybe.

“Venti café Misto…”

“Tall Caramel macchiato, upside-down…”

“Grande triple shot de-caf Espresso Macchiato, dry…”

“Tall double shot vanilla latte skinny…”

“Grande decaf Mocha Frappuccino light…”

“Short cap, half-caf double shot wet with room….”

“Venti Triple shot white mocha, extra hot, no room…”

None of which anyone dares move toward, let alone claim. They all just stand there in place, silent, perplexed and befuddled...either forgetting or just not knowing what is was they ordered on that particular day.


“Regular coffee, milk two sugars…”

For which a multitude of hands reach to grab….

“I think that’s mine…”

“No mine….”

“I ordered that a half hour ago…I think…I’m pretty sure….”

And at that point, I turn and walk away.

My caffeine headache has started to kick in and the Gas N Sip across the street is looking pretty good.

“One tall Americano, regular.”

And again I wonder…regular…how do they know?

How does anybody know???



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  1. You have my full sympathy as I know exactly what you mean. These coffee houses are beginning to take on a nuance of soup kitchen queues akin to 1930's depression years. Never mind, it gave your article a certain cutting edge feeling.

    1. And it's not even exactly your cup of tea...for that matter....

  2. It's gonna be just like that when I reach the Pearly Gates, but based on the Seven Deadly Sins. With no excuses... Except: The devil made me do it.

    1. That's why I stick with Chock Full O's still the Heavenly Coffee....

  3. I had a similar experience when buying an Egg sandwich at the local Deli; they speak to customers in a proprietary coded language that is only understood by employees!


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