The Starbucks was buzzing, which was to be expected considering it was just after 8:30 a.m. Still, the line moved swiftly, and within moments, the only customers ahead of me were a woman and her preschool-aged son. She ordered first.
“Triple Grande skinny Caramel Macchiato, low foam.”
I silently vowed this would be the day I emailed Starbucks with my long-simmering suggestion to create a separate line for anybody whose drink order contained more than 10 syllables. It would please millions of customers like me who frequent the chain in search of a “tall black coffee.”
“Next?” the barista said. I stepped up.
“And I’ll have—“
The woman cut me off. “My son is next.”
“Sorry,” I replied. “I figured you would have ordered for him.”
“He likes to do it himself. Go ahead, Justin.”
“Grande Frappuccino. One pump hazelnut, one pump white mocha and one pump vanilla. No whip, easy ice.”
I’ve seen countless Justins at Starbucks: little kids who follow their parent’s impossible-to-comprehend coffee orders with equally complex orders of their own. I find them all equally irritating. Their moms and dads smile proudly, as if their children’s ability to say “Caffe Americano” while still wearing Pull-Ups will somehow get them accepted into an Ivy League institution. On the contrary — pretentious kids like Justin usually become bullying targets before the whipped cream in their Venti Caramel Apple Spice dissolves. I stepped up again.
“And I’ll have—“
“Ma’am, did you say easy foam on the Macchiato?” the barista said.
“No. Low foam.”
“So, like, a quarter foam?”
“Slightly more than a quarter. But less than half.”
“Okaaay,” she said in her most pleasant, confused voice.
“Frappuccino. One pump hazelnut, one pump white mocha and one pump vanilla. No whip, easy ice is up,” came a shout from the other end of the counter. Mom retrieved the cup.
“Here you go, honey.”
“Mommy, this is a tall. I ordered a grande.”
“That’s right you did,” she said. “Tell the lady.”
By now, I counted 15 people in line. Most were texting, I assumed, the same message: “Gonna B late.”