Admonished at Starbucks

Last week, my office had a fire drill in the morning. This time it was just a drill; no fire in the file-box-filled attic this time. Periodically throughout the day, the emergency strobe lights in would flash for five or ten minutes (thankfully without the siren sound) as the maintenance people worked on the system. There is no way to block out the bright sharp flashes—light seems to leak in even when your eyes are closed—and I started getting a headache.

Yvonne and I decided to walk across the street to the nearly-deserted Starbucks to escape the strobes for a bit. She ordered first, a tall latte with soy milk. I ordered next, a tall latte with 2% milk.

That’s a nice short order, right? Five words. Tall, Latte, With, 2%, Milk. OK, maybe that’s six words if you count “two” and “percent” separately. The Starbucks coffee drones, I mean baristas, use short-order type lingo and I thought I had managed to speak the required language pretty well, especially in my reluctant use of the term “tall” instead of “small.” Which, by the way, is a mind-boggling twist of logic; “tall” to describe the smallest size? It’s nothing but a deceptive marketing tactic. And, speaking of sizing, they seriously need to quit with the pretentious faux-Italian verbiage. I say “faux” because “grande” in Italian means “large,” but that’s what Starbucks calls a medium. And “venti” means “twenty.” So their sizes, are Tall, Large, and Twenty. How completely logical.

But I digress.

So I ordered a “tall latte with 2% milk.” The cashier-drone cheerily took my order and called out “tall latte” to the coffee-drone. He, in turn, called back “tall latte” to her to confirm the order and turned to look at me with a glint of “you stupid coffee newbie” in his eyes. “For your future information, ma’am, all our beverages come with 2% milk by default. You don’t have to tell us 2% in the future.”

Okay, I thought, that’s useful information. They’ll put 2% in even if I forget to tell them to do so. “Thanks,” I said, “that’s good to know.”

He continued. “You don’t have to ever say 2%. And it’ll save both of us some time if you don’t.”

WHAT? Did he actually just say that to me? Was I just admonished by a barista for wasting his time with three or four extra words? If the line at Starbucks stretched out the door and all the employees were operating at full speed, would me saying “with 2% milk” REALLY slow the well-oiled barista machinery to a halt? Would it work like a traffic jam, where if one person on a busy freeway taps his brakes it can cause a backup for miles?

I’m tempted to try it, just for spite. But in reality, Mr. Über-Efficiency doesn’t need to worry about me wasting his time any more with extra words, and in turn I won’t worry about spending $3 of my hard-earned cash for a spash of second-rate coffee in a glass of milk.

2% MILK, that is.


  1. Anonymous

    You should send a letter to the manager of that store, and the corporate office. Seriously, there is no reason for the coffee-making drone to get all bitchy with you. Be sure to include the date and time of the bitchiness so the manager will be able to sort out which bitchy little coffee-making drone was on the clock! QUALITY PRODUCTS and SERVICE should be the most important things in retail, but sadly both have gone missing.

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