Tuesday, April 26, 2016
You know what this is. Everyone in the world recognizes the logo in this photo. Well, practically everyone. There may be someone on the planet who communicates via jungle drums and dines on tree bark and ants who has never worshiped at the altar of St. Arbucks.
Full disclosure: Minus the dietary habits, I am closer to that poor clueless castaway than I am to the average American, since I never drink either of the two beverages essential to most writers (no alcohol, no caffeine--how do I survive??). I rarely set foot in a coffee shop. However, since I am a writer, and I don't live in total isolation, I'm occasionally given a Starbucks gift card. In fact, there have been several of them floating in the detritus of my handbag for years.
Not long ago, I found myself stuck waiting for the groomer to finish with Woki. (Yes, I spend more on his haircuts than I do on my own.) With time to kill on a frigid winter morning, I wandered into the Starbucks next door to the groomer. It seemed like a good morning for a nice cup of tea, so after determining what elaborate tea-based concoction to request, I got in line with the cool people who know the drill. I figured if I watched closely, I could manage to place my order without making too much of a fool of myself.
Here among the beautiful ones, I was so out of my depth. The three men in line all sported designer stubble, ear buds, and distracted expressions. I imagined they were fretting over sports teams, the financial markets or, less likely, the car that had been parked in the handicapped spot outside. Of the eight or ten women in line, seven wore their blonde hair in a ponytail, four had perfectly applied makeup, all of them wore Lulu Lemon yoga pants, and not one of them weighed more than 100 pounds.
So the line crept forward, and I listened to the patois of Starbucks: half-caf double venti latte with hazelnut; grande, iced, with soy; triple half-sweet carmel macchiato. And as if that wasn't confusing enough, why does tall = small?
With increasing alarm, I saw the two people ahead of me pay not with money or gift cards, but by holding their phones to the credit card device (at least I think that's what it was). Hey, I've got a phone. It's even a smart phone. Trouble is, I'm not cool enough to tell it how to pay for my tea.
It became MY TURN.
I ordered a drink by the name printed on the overhead menu, not entirely sure what it would be. "May I please have a London Fog?"
Server--oh, pardon me--barista's reply, "What? What do you want?" Like I was speaking Hurro-Uratian.
I pointed to the menu and repeated my order slowly. She nodded, scribbled something on a cup which she handed off to a co-worker. I, in turn, handed her a grimy gift card. She took it carefully, as if it might be contaminated. Okay, maybe that wasn't unreasonable.
I sauntered casually to the little counter where drinks appeared and recognized mine easily enough, even though it was now called a "tea latte" rather than the much cooler sounding London Fog. Settling into a corner with what proved to be a delicious beverage, I surveyed the shop, content to be sitting amongst the young and caffeinated with my iconic paper cup. I might not be cool these days, but once upon a time, I could have given everyone in the place a run for their money . . . or their phones.