[part 2 of 2]
[When we last left our hapless, clueless hero, he was lost in a $tarbucks trying to order a cup of coffee and not feel like a total outsider. And if that doesn’t make sense, please go back and read yesterday’s post.]
It has never helped me to study the $tarbucks menu beforehand either.
I’m sure, way back in the 1980‘s when the Go-Go’s had the beat and the B52‘s were eating Rock Lobster, there was a bilingual dictionary provided where you could look up what all of the words meant. 30 years later, they just expect you to know it like the metric system. I drank coffee all throughout Europe so I know Espresso, Cappuccino and even a Latte. But Macchiato? Wasn’t he the guy who played the Karate Kid? How could he be on the menu? con Panno? Doesn’t that mean “with bread?” Flat White? Skinny? Dry? Breve? I got nothing.
When I’m not too tired from writing everyday for this Ultimate Blog Challenge, I’ve actually looked some of this up online. There are pages and pages devoted to how to order, what everything means, diagrams, instructions, primers and the whole lot! How, in the Lord of Coffee’s name, did this business flourish to the point where the common tongue is barely helpful? If I want to feel foolish, I’ll go to France and try to order something, thank-you-very-much.
Here are the 6 orders that noisily preceded mine at a busy $tarbucks last week:
“Venti 7 Pump no Whip White Mocha.”
“Decaf Double Tall non-fat extra-dry cappuccino.”
“Quad grande no-whip 170 mocha macchiato.”
“Grande with Whip Mocha Frappuccino Light Blended Coffee”
“Quad Venti Skinny with Whip Iced Caramel Macchiato”
“Iced Half-Caf, Quad, Grande, Soy, Starbucks Doubleshot on Ice + Energy”
And then I walk up and say, “Medium Black Coffee?” We all know how that turned out. This is not your father’s coffee shop.
I never know where to stand in a $tarbucks. There’s rarely a free table to sit down at, so I invariably stand lost at the counter where I ordered until someone behind it (usually the “bartender”) points me away to one end or the other. Ah, the pickup station! That’s where I’m supposed to stand! No, that’s where you move to when they call the name they wrote on your cup. If you’re standing there too soon, the regulars coming to grab their expensive coffees will let you know, in no uncertain non-verbal terms that you’re standing in the wrong place. They will, with great drama, reach over and past you to get to their name embossed cups. Somehow, you’re supposed to find a 3rd position to stand until that time.
I wait till they yell “Nick” (they never get my name right), move over, grab it and go.
Every $tarbucks I’ve ever been in, all 7 of them, look like dorm lounges. There are people dressed in sweats and fuzzy booties with their laptops, cozied in for what must be hours of studying and caffeination. I feel like I’m intruding, like I’ve awakened in someone else’s den. Everyone looks somewhat similar too. Like there’s a certain dress code and everybody knows to dress vaguely Canadian. I’m dead certain that if aliens where to quietly invade the planet, they would dress like Starbuckians and hide out in these coffee shops until the call came.
Part of me really wants to belong. I genuinely want to understand it and go chill at $tarbucks. I don’t know how I’d still be able to do my job if I were successful at that, but I’m barely doing my job now during this blog contest anyway. I only complain because I feel like the kid who wasn’t chosen for basketball because I suck. I suck at feeling at home in a $tarbucks, so why should they welcome me? I can’t wear ski hats in the summer, I don’t lug around a backpack and my laptop everywhere, and I don’t look vaguely Canadian.
I think I’ll stick to brewing mine at home.
[Note: The author genuinely likes Canadians and no Canadians were harmed in the making of this blog.]