Saturday, July 02, 2005

Communication Venti

To those unused to it, Starbucks can seem like an entirely different world. Or culture. Granted, it does have an entire language one must learn in order to communicate effectively within it's earth toned, low lit walls. There's sizes (large, grande, venti), shots, pumps, types of milk, types of coffee.... the list goes on and on. I remember my early days of being dazed and confused, stumbling through trying to order a simple latte. Now I'm an old and experienced coffee drinker, easily amused at newbies who ask for a medium. (Laume laughs in a snobby aside)

But even amongst those with a firm grasp of the caffeine laden second language, confusion can erupt. Too, today's miscommunications couldn't be completely blamed on the language differences of the Starbucks coffee snob (although, can one really be a coffee snob and drink at Starbucks now that there's one on every corner like a mundane Walmart or Taco Bell?). It was more simply three native born English speakers (two baristas, one customer) completely unable to find each other in a sea of words.

It was a really hot day and I'd spent over an hour doing some shopping at the market. I was in the mood for something sweet and cold. Starbucks is conveniently the last shop at the end of the shopping center.

Inside, I walked up to the counter:

Barista #1: Hi, what can I get for you today.

Me: It's either the vanilla frapuccino or the iced chai tea latte.

Barista #1: Ooooh, two completely different choices.

Me: Yeah, I can't decide.

Barista #1: Well, are you in the mood for something light, or more of a milk shake?

Me: Milk shake. Uhm, I'll have a vanilla frapuccino.

Barista #1: Creme? Or with coffee?

Me: With. Definitely.

Barista #1: What size?

Me: Grande (I hand her my Starbucks credit card) No! Wait! Don't you have some mint thing?

Barista #1: Mint Mocha Chip Frappucino?

Me: Yeah. I'll take one of those. Same size. But no chocolate chips.

Barista #1: You're sure now? (she smiles teasingly)

Me: Yep. That sounds good. Something cold, sweet, and refreshing.

I stepped back and waited. Chatted with a biker who was behind me in line who ordered the exact same drink as me. The orders kept coming out, not mine. Not his. Hot day, they were really busy. I looked at a photo of the Mint Mocha Chip Frapuccino. The chips didn't look like the big ol' things I'd imagined, potentially clogging up my straw. I stepped back up to the counter.

Me: Excuse me?

Barista #2: Yes. Can I help you?

Me: I'm your Mint Mocha Chip. No chips.

Barista #2: (Looks at the orders written on the next two cups) Yep. Gotcha right here. Coming up next.

Me: No. I mean, yes. Good. But about those chocolate chips....

Barista #2: I know. No chocolate chips.

Me: I know. But what I want to know is....

Barista #2: No chips. Gotcha.

Me: I know. I mean, I know I said I didn't want any chips. But I want to know about those chips. Are they...

Barista #2: I won't put them in.

Me: THANK YOU. BUT that's not what I'm asking. I want to know, are they big chocolate chips or are they blended in?

Barista #2: They're put in a blender.

Me: Okay. Then I don't mind if...

Barista #2: But don't worry. I won't put them in there.

Me: I WANT you to put them in there.

Barista #2: In.....?

Me: In my Mint Mocha Chip Frapuccino. Put them in.

Barista #2: Okay, no problem. So. Do you want chips then?

Me: (politely not looking exasperated) Yes. Thank you.

Another minute or two went by. Two orders came up. Both Mint Mocha Chips. One Tall, one Venti. The biker steps up and claims the Tall and heads for the door. I go up and look at the Venti.

Me: Uhm, I ordered a Grande? (No one responded) Anyone?

I'm invisible. I shrugged, grabbed the Venti and headed out the door. By the time I got to the car I've concluded that the entire drink is simply a huge glass of chocolate syrup with whipped cream and more chocolate drizzled on top. Couldn't taste a few measly shots of espresso over a good 16 oz. plus of chocolate. It was way too intense for me but I decided my husband would love it. I dropped it into the cup holder in the Subie, told William I'd be right back (he groaned) and headed back to Starbucks to stand in line one more time.

Me: (reaching the front of the line) It was too chocolatey. I'd like a Vanilla Frapuccino please.

Barista #1: Creme? What size?

Me: No. And just a Tall. Thanks.

I sit back down. Wait. Wait some more. A lady comes in with her teenage daughter. I noticed the woman has burns on most of her body. What a story she must have. I noticed her teenage daughter has one of those amazing teenage bodies with a flat stomach and can wear the hip hugging skirt and skinny tank top she has on with absolutely no apologies whatsoever. I'm thinking about when I used to be young whether I could have worn something like that, how I probably did wear an outfit like that, and how scary I'd look in that same outfit today.

Barista #1:(yells out and smiles at me) Vanilla Frapuccino Creme!

Me: (walking up to the pick up counter) Uhm, excuse me. This is a Creme.

Barista #1: That's what you ordered.

Me: No, I ordered a Frapuccino. With coffee in it.

Barista #1: Well, they're all Frapuccinos.

Me: (pointing to the order sign above us and talking in a calm, patient voice like one does to a young child) Yes. But in the past if I order a Frapuccino they've assumed I meant WITH coffee. (someone behind the counter had actually told me to order them that way once long ago) And if I don't want coffee I would have said I wanted a Creme. Plus I ordered the Mint Mocha Chip and simply said Frapuccino and you weren't confused that I wanted it with coffee in it. Besides you asked...

Barista #1: (waving for me to stop) It's fine. No problem. I'll just make you another one.

Me: WITH coffee.

Barista #1: With coffee.

I waited..................

Barista #1: (stepping back up to the pick up counter) Here ya go. Sorry about that. And take the Creme too.

Me: Thanks. I'll bring it out to my son, who's been waiting in the car all this time.


So there you go. It only took, ohhhhh, about 45 minutes to go home with not one, but THREE refreshing summer treats from Starbucks. I had my Vanilla Frapuccino. Hubby loved the tooooo sweet Mint Mocha Chip Frapuccino. William decided the Vanilla Creme was too sweet as well and we offered it to our neighbor, who was sitting out in the yard with hubby and had never even set foot in a Starbucks much less tasted any of their drinks, and he thought it was great.

All's well that ends well. When it eventually ends.

Except, I've got a doozy of a sugar headache.


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