Thursday, February 14, 2008

Crack Drink

I'm pretty sure that when people think of me, they picture me with a Starbucks cup in my hand. It's a visual association; part of my identity. Like Mr. Peanut and his monocle.

Or Colonel Sanders, with his white suit and cane.

So that if you tried to conjur an image of Daniel Johnson, not only would you see a prominently sized head, a long face and Levis twill pants, you'd also see the white Starbucks cup. Like so:

And I am fine with that, honestly. Not that I'm comfortable, in principle, with being so attached to a brand. It's just that I've come to terms with my addiction. Because there is coffee and then there is whatever they sell at Starbucks. Which is not coffee. They sell hot, black liquid crack. (I know it's crack, because every year on Christmas I can't get my fix and I end up fetal by the end of the day.) And I'm hooked on the junk. But it's a manageable addiction, and I've gotten attached to the half hour of bliss every morning that follows that first cup.

But I have one gripe. You see, I've been self-medicating myself twice daily with these cups of oily, steaming euphoria for close to a decade now. Which I would like to think makes me a bit of an expert when it comes to Starbucksese, a highly specific vernacular. But not so. I guess that the ace team of coffee PhDs posing as Starbucks baristas don't want anybody infringing on their select status as resident experts. Because no matter how many times I order the same. goddamn. drink, they pretend I said it wrong. It goes something like this.

Me: Hey. I'll have an iced grande coffee, unsweetened.

Barista: Ok, iced grande iced coffee, classic status. Anything else?

So not only do they insert the word "iced" in there a second, useless time, they make up some kind of phony Starbucks term for "unsweetened." Classic status my ass.

But! If I were to repeat, verbatim, what they called my drink the next time I'm back, this is what happens:

Me: Hi! I'd like an ice grande iced coffee, classic status.

Barista: That's one grande iced coffee, no sweetener. Will that be all good sir?

Do you see? Do you see what's happening here? They're sticking it to me, with a smile. I may have come to play, but the decks are stacked against me, and the house always wins. Because no matter what I say, they'll invert it. It's a subtle gesture of superiority. Their little way of reminding me that they're behind the the Starbucks counter, not me. And they'll be damned if some coffee junkie with a $30 a week habit is going to tell them what to call their drinks. They went to Starbucks college.

In the end, I've come to accept this little song and dance as a small, if degrading, sacrifice that I have to make for excellent crack drink. But it still doesn't keep me from secretly hoping that one day they'll acknowledge the fact that they've seen me every morning and evening of nine years and that, just possibly, I know how to say my order correctly.

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