Sociology and Starbucks

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I swear to God you can judge a person, and also the state of humanity in general in the world, by how they conduct their business at the cream/sugar counter at Starbucks.

The counter is in a U-shape which affords everyone the opportunity to stand off to the side and reach in the center of the U, using either side to pour/shake your crap into your coffee.

If you stand in the CENTER of the U, you are selfish, self-serving and probably beyond all help at this point. You’re like the girl in my ballet class who could never get up on pointe and it forced Mrs. DuBois the 70 year old mother of the Diane the teacher to blurt out, “Diaaaahn, that girl will never get it. In more ways than one.”

If you stand in the CENTER of the U, and don’t hear me behind you, don’t hear me breathing, the jiggling of the keys in my purse, or don’t just sense me, the way that you do when you’re a highly evolved, version 1-million-point-o, human, I’m honestly scared that you possess the qualities that could make America’s Next Dictator.

I stood there soooooo long waiting for this guy to finish up, I just dribbled hot coffe on my hand thus forcing me to reach for a napkin, I didn’t reach in front of him. I was perfectly able to angle in and out without making contact, but he couldn’t sense I was there and he jerked and reached for the Splenda at the same time and knocked it out of my hands and napkins went flying. Of course, I say, “sorry” first and he smiles and STILL DOES NOT MOVE OVER.

He finally finishes up and motions to me as if to say, “your turn” as if he is aware of the democratic process of using the cream/sugar counter and there is just no way in hell in his world that it’s big enough for two, even though technically there are 3 components to the thing and 2 sets of creams and sugars.

I was willing to forgive him if he was honestly startled by me standing there and realized and said, “Oh, pardon me.”

Before all of this happened, when I was just ordering a coffee, the woman in front of me had already paid and gotten her drink and she stood there chatting with the barista drink in hand. I can either see this as bad customer service, an oblivious customer or a kick back to a golden era when people talked to each other and transactions were part of the experience. The barista was giggling and chatting and I just stood there annoyed.

Then the minute the woman scooted over, before I had a chance to just be sullen and order my coffee the barista said, “Wow. Her name is Monica and mine is too. I never meet anyone with my name.”

She was so pleasant that I had to engage her. And I honestly felt in that moment, “Monica is the best name. If I wasn’t dead inside, I’d have a little girl and name her Monica.”

I confessed that my name was the all-too-popular, Jennifer and she smiled apologetically. “Oh, I know three people named Jennifer.” She poured my coffee and addressed me. “Would you like room for that, Jennifer?” It didn’t even bother me that she was not calling me “Jen” which I consider my real name.

I even told her about the time that I went to another Starbucks and the barista insisted that she didn’t know how to spell Jen and had NEVER HEARD of someone shortening Jennifer to Jen. And that barista, that day went so far as to say, “I don’t even think I’ve heard the name Jennifer that much in Los Angeles.” And I said to her, “Really? You haven’t? What about Anniston, Lopez, Garner, Love-Hewitt and Tilly?)” She said, “I don’t keep up with celebrities.” Well, neither do I but I hear their damn names!!

Today’s barista loved that story and rolled her eyes and said, “Some people.”

Yeah. Some people.

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