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.
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.