Today, I stopped by Starbucks for the first time in a long time, before heading in to work later. Figured I would get my day off to a good start with a tasty treat.
I ordered something for Jasmine and myself, mine being an iced caramel macchiato, hers being a triple grande almond milk latte (she used to work for Starbucks, she knows what she likes – me, I like my coffee to be a milkshake.)
The barista asks for a name, and I say “Chris”, and pay, then walk back to a table and sit down to play some chess while I wait.
Looking around the shop, I wondered about those people hanging out in there, sitting and working on their laptops, talking to study buddies, eating their cookies… and I started to wonder who of them had names that had been “Starbucked” before.
You know, like when a Brian gets “Bran” or a Tiffany gets “Tiffonie”? I’d never had mine changed up like that, for whatever reason. I’m not jealous, just aware of this fact in a way that makes me self-conscious on an infinitesimal scale.
A few moments later, they call my name, and I get up and walk over to the counter.
I look, and I see only one drink on the counter – an iced caramel macchiato.
Now, I order mine with extra caramel, and upside down (shut up, it tastes better that way). It has a certain visual aesthetic, to boot.
And as I reach out to grab it, I see the tag with the name on it.
And man… I didn’t know what to think.
Was this mine?
Did I just get Equalitied?
Is Christina the best they could do for “Chris”?
Is this how everyone else who’d been Starbucked felt? This is weird. I’ve gotten more than I asked for.
Can you really just swap genders like that with peoples names? It’s not even etymologically correct, is it?
I look around the room to see if any ladies were waiting patiently for their drink, maybe I had cut them off in my walk to the counter?
I look back to the barista, and they don’t even glance at me, as they put down another coffee, this one labeled “Chris”.
omfg, what is happening?
Do I take them both?
If I do, and it’s not mine, is that shoplifting, or just theft? Will they try to stop me? Will I be tackled by a hipster rent-a-cop? They can’t run that fast in skinny jeans anyway, right?
Grand Theft Machiatto is about to kick off, and I have no idea the repercussions of what my actions will be.
My mind racing as I try to compute all that is happening, I look around the shop again.
I mean, this coffee looks exactly like what I ordered. Nobody else is moving to the counter. I’ve been in this store for 5 minutes, tops, and mine is the only name that’s been called.
There’s no empty seat with a book or bag in front of it, I didn’t see anybody go to the bathroom.
I slowly reach out and grab the triple grande almond milk latte as if it were an old friend I hadn’t seen in years… but I also glance over at the upside down caramel macchiato with extra vanilla and caramel, the one that definitely does NOT say the name given to me at birth, as if it were a familiar face I had forgotten the name of.
I look at the other drink harder.
“I swear to god, Christina, if you’re in here, you better say something right now….” I think to myself.
Then, a girl stands up from her table, removing her sunglasses, places them on her table, and walks over in my direction.
“Oh, thank you thank you thank you, this was gonna be so awkward—“ I have the time to internally spout, before she’s standing next to me.
She leans past me, and asks the barista, “Excuse me, what time do you guys close?”
The barista opens his mouth to answer her, but I can’t focus beyond the red in my eyes as I incinerate the back of Girl’s head with my stare.
She walks back to her table, puts her sunglasses on, and picks up her water to take a sip.
How did I miss that water bottle? Ugh.
I look back at the drink on the counter.
It’s iced. Maybe I can extrapolate from the condensation on the sides how long it has been sitting there? It’s about 68° in the shop, that’s a thin plastic cup filled with ice and coffee – what temperature does coffee become coffee at? – it doesn’t have a pool of water around it on the counter… does caramel increase or decrease the half-life of coffee temperature?
I look at the triple grande almond milk latte grasped in my hand – it is warm, hot rather. Duh, that’s how coffee is supposed to feel.
Buy some time to think. Grab the cardboard sleeve. Act like you’ve done this once in your life before.
I reach over to grab a sleeve out of the tray, and look back at the populace in the shop once more.
1, 2… 5 people at that table. Everyone has a drink.
2 people there, two coffees.
That dude is eating a sandwich, doesn’t have a drink, but looks even less like a Christina than I probably do.
3 at that table, but they’re drinking fancy waters.
And then there’s Girl. Ugh, her and her stupid water with her dumb questions about store hours.
Okay, fine, this is it. This coffee is mine, this is my station in life now, I am probably the result of some bet the barista kids made about how many guys they can give girl names to on their coffee.
Whatever, let’s do this. I’m taking it, and I’m just out of here, off to drink my stupid venti iced soy caramel macchiato, upside down with extra vanilla and extra caramel, and I’m going to love it and I don’t even care about what name the sticker claims.
I reach out for another cardboard sleeve for the drink, put the triple grande almond milk latte down on the counter, and reach out for the Christina cup.
And, as I am reaching over the counter to accept my fate, as if to laugh at the ridiculousness of all this, a barista’s hand comes into view, holding a drink.
Instantly, I see, over their thumb, a name.
Before they even have time to get my name out of their mouth – MY name, the name my mother figured was an acceptable noise to make with her mouth in order to get my attention, that name – my hand is wrapping around the base of the cup in the barista’s hand, taking its weight into my palm, and I immediately slide the cardboard sleeve around it, solidifying my ownership over this coffee.
To hell with you and your abandoned drink, Christina, you don’t deserve it if you’re not going to take it as soon as it evacuates the womb of it’s creation, being handled by a coffee artist and delicately placed into your own, never having been spoiled by that disgusting counter over which who knows how many hands and spills have pilfered its virginity…
…I take both drinks, wish the baristas a nice day, and head home, enjoying my delicious coffee mish-mash as I drive off into the sunset.