Speaking the language

I ALMOST NEVER go to Starbucks. Most times when I do, it’s because someone gave me a gift card. I'll happily spend someone else's $5 on a super-caffeinated beverage; I can’t in good conscience do it with my own heard-earned cash.

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Despite my infrequent visits, I usually order the same thing, in the same way. This morning, gift card in hand, three extra minutes to spare, I decided to not walk by Starbucks today. I went in. And this is what happened.

ME: I’d like a triple grande vanilla latte, sugar-free, fat-free.

BARISTA: So, you want a triple grande SKINNY vanilla latte?

ME: Yeah, if that’s what you call it.

BARISTA: If you say “skinny,” they know you want it sugar-free, fat free.

ME: Do I have to say “skinny?”

BARISTA: Well, they’ll know you want it with the skim milk and the sugar-free syrup if you do.

ME: Okay, then, I want one of those. What you said.

BARISTA: [yells to other barista] I need a triple grande SKINNY vanilla latte please! [To me] Would you like anything to eat with that this morning?

ME: No… tryin’ to, you know, keep it SKINNY.

BARISTA: They make me ask.

ME: I ate breakfast at home.

Beware, ye who do not speak the language! For the barista might just correct your choice of words, and then you might go from feeling a teensy bit smug for having remembered to call it a “triple grande” instead of asking for a grande with an extra shot, to feeling like an idiot who doesn’t order her drink like how all the cool kids do it.

This reminds me of the time in 1993 when I ordered a Diet Coke from a street vendor in Paris. Eager to use my French, I said, “Un Coke Diete, s’il vous plait,” to which the vendor replied, “EIGHTY FRANCS.” She knew I didn’t speak the language, even though I tried.

But, meh, who cares. It’s only Starbucks. I think it’s more important to order your cocktail correctly at a bar. Grey Goose martini, extra dry, up, with olives. Por favor.


4 thoughts on “Speaking the language

  1. The orders at Starbucks remind me of the child’s game where each person adds a word or two to whatever has been said before to paint an increasingly insane story. When I go (usually looking for wireless), I am unimaginative: short latte. Yeah, short, even if you have to go hunt for the small cups. Don’t you dare squirt anything in it.
    I’m switching to black coffee, maybe tea. The fewer words or letters, the better! ;-)

  2. I HATE STARBUCKS BECAUSE OF THE CONFUSING LINGO. No other place makes me feel like a senior citizen quicker. If I just want a regular sized coffee, why do I have to figure out if that’s short, tall, or ginormous or Jolly Green Giant-sized? None of it makes any sense. Why can’t it just be small, medium/regular or large just like every place else? This ADD-addled brain cannot handle trying to decipher their cryptic menu, it pisses me off, actually. Coffee should not be so difficult.
    Thanks for letting me vent, this has been a long time coming.
    p.s. Remember how confused I was using your mouseless laptop the first time we met at the beach? Well this same person has aged even more and hates confusing menus. In other words, it’s gotten way worse.

  3. I DO remember that, Methuselah! But not to worry. We are singing from the same hymnal.
    By the way, I read a story earlier this week that told how children age 6 and under are totally stymied by computer mice. They want to swipe and pinch and all those other touch-screen maneuvers. Talk about making me feel OLD.

  4. Andrew, I know what you mean about the word game. The truth is, I thought about asking for skinny but I wasn’t sure where to insert that particular adjective. What if I added it at the wrong place? Like if I had said, “I’d like a vanilla triple skinny latte? And then the guy yelled, YOU MEAN A TRIPLE VANILLA SKINNY LATTE?? Yeah, that’s what I meant, and thanks for making me look stupid.
    About half the time, I give up and just order a “tall drip. Leave room.” Yes, in Starbucks lingo, but still. It’s faster – the guy at the register can pour it – I don’t have to wait for someone to dispense my liquid gold from that hissing, frothing machine.
    You kids, get off my lawn!

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