Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The sociology of Starbucks

On a recent trip to Starbucks, I had the pleasure of waiting in line behind my favorite type of customer: the 50ish preppy woman, her hair held back by a black headband, wearing a white Lacoste polo shirt with the collar turned up, complemented by capris featuring some sort of strange collection of fruits, accessorized with a belt patterened in strawberries and rounded out with sockless Gucci flats. She was, naturally, sporting the latest in Fendi eyeglass frames, which she repeatedly took off and on, much like a turtle poking his or her head out of the shell, to signal the counter-workers that she was losing patience. And when it was her turn, she offered up something like this:

"I want a grande not-quite-half-caf with a shot of [unintelligible], with three-quarters of an extra shot, no foam soy latte, [something else unintelligible], blah, blah, blah . . ." The barista repeated the order back to make sure she got it right, which amazingly she almost did, except not to the satisfaction of her customer. I did hear a lot of, "Not quite this, not quite thats," though.

After going through this ritual a second time, the woman turned to me, as if we were members of the same "can you believe people like us have to go through this shit" sorority and said, "Sometimes I just want to strangle these people. I don't know where they come from."

To which I responded, "They're much nicer to you than I would have been. If this were my store, I would have asked you to leave."

Miffed, the woman replied, "I would have reported you to the manager and had you fired."

"I didn't say if I worked here. I said if this were my store. That would make me the manager and I wouldn't fire myself," I said.

"I would demand something," she responded, apparently quite unfamiliar with the corporate structure of small independently-owned retail coffee shops. "I will tell that if you worked here, I would ask to see the manager."

"Neither option works," I reminded her. "I wouldn't fire myself. Plus, I don't work here."

My friend the barista then handed me my coffee, on the house. Just coffee. No fractions, no currency conversions and no shots. I walked outside, and who do I see but the Coffee Lady in a dispute with a meter maid . . .

"And you're telling me that you're going to give me a ticket for leaving my car here for five minutes to get coffee?" When he reminded her that all the parking in front of the store was metered, and that there were no exceptions for affluent white Starbucks addicts to grab their Grandes and go (I exaggerate the second part of the sentence), she grabbed the ticket and began to get in her car when she noticed me standing on the sidewalk in front of her.

"And I suppose you put money in the meter, right?"

"No," I responded. "I rode my bike. I don't have to."

She just looked at me, threw her hands in the air, hoped in her Land Rover (which, by the way, is perhaps the unsafest SUV on the road) and screeched off.

And that was that.


Anonymous said...

Gregg you're my hero.

- old goalie Jay Krause

Anonymous said...

that story never happened Gregg. Stop making things up to further your class warfere arguemnts...

Gregg Ivers said...

Obviously, you've never been to the Spring Valley Starbucks.

Anonymous said...

As a veteran Barista, I thank you! I hope the school year is treating oyu well!
Jessie Armijo

Anonymous said...

Hey Prof Ivers,

Hilarious post and great rant on my not-so-favorite types of people that so often grace us with their presence in everyday life....take care and talk to you soon!

Corey (former Starbucks addict)

Jimmy Pollock said...

A fresh reminder why I'm moving back to Washington and leaving Leelanau county, that has a ban on franchise businesses, and no Land Rover dealership for 3 hours. I hope to catch up with you soon, I'll drive.