Do you remember the first time you ordered at Starbucks?
The memory is rich in my conscious...
I am 14. For months I have been rehearsing the Starbucks dialogue in the mirror and today I finally muster the courage to walk into one of the green awnings lined up and down Broadway. 'This is it', I silently coach myself. Here goes nothing.
“I’ll have a Venti soy vanilla latte,” I tell the barista in the forest green visor. My voice starts off a little shaky but I grow confident halfway through it.
So much so, that I boldly add, “and no whip cream” for good measure.
Then I casually hold out my credit card, like I do this all the time. I smile. I am proud. I have just successfully ordered in calm, sophisticated Starbucks code.
But he doesn’t take it, he lets my arm dangle, and that's when I know I've said something wrong`. Oh, but what? It could be so many things. Word placement. Order of preferences. Did I say small instead of tall? [Did I even order small? I mean tall.] He is just standing there, looking at me awkwardly, as though I have just suggested that there are 52 states in the U.S.
I can see his thoughts churning in his head as he contemplates how to tactfully arrange his words. “Um, lattes don’t come with whip cream…” he says uneasily.
There is no easy way to tell someone that they don’t know which drinks are served with whip cream and which aren’t. There is no good way to break the news to me. How do you tell someone that the are Starbucks illiterate?
I’m still smiling, but I feel like an idiot. Obviously I have not practiced enough. I leave with my venti soy latte sans whip cream, but I have left my pride in the barista's gaping mouth.
I won’t make the same mistake twice. Now when I order, I say it real slow, pausing in between preferences, and finishing each with a high note, like a question.
“I’ll have a tall?”
I want to add “sugar-free” but I’d rather drink sugar than risk coming off uneducated. I wait for the nod, and then I can breathe right knowing I’ve said it correctly. Sometimes I won’t even order the drink I want because I’m not sure how to order it.
And then I get mad.
Who gives people in green aprons and visors the right to make me feel dumb? For one, they look stupid. And for another the names for the sizes don’t even make sense. Tall, for example, leads one to believe that the cup will, in fact be,tall, when in reality, the cup is sized more like a stumpy midget. Grande is not English and is therefore equally conniving.