My friend Amanda is blogging again, and she wrote recently about her job at a coffee shop- more specifically, the strange coffee orders she receives.
It reminded me of when I worked in a cafe when I was 20. I was not a coffee drinker (outside of the very occasional cup at home, and sometimes a splurge on a Dunkin' Donuts Coolatta- but my body could not really handle caffeine then so I mostly avoided it) and I had to not only learn words like cappuccino, latte and espresso, I also had to learn their ingredients and how to make them. And serve them with confidence and not a look on my face that said, I don't know but this might be a cappalatto.
Before I was really ready for it, I was left alone in the cafe to fend for myself and work out any problems alone. One day this lady strides up to the counter and is the type of customer not to greet you or show any signs of friendliness.
ME: (smiling) Hi, how are you?
CUSTOMER: (looking at her cell phone) I want a tall skinny latte.
ME: (panicking in my head- WHAT THE FUDGE does that mean???) Ok. Is that for here or to go?
CUSTOMER: Ugh. To go.
I stepped away from the counter and looked at our to-go cups. The tallest ones were not skinny, and the skinniest ones were not tall. My only experience in a Starbucks up to that point in my life was ordering a tiny cup of four-dollar hot apple cider that tasted like apple juice with a dash of cinnamon. I had NO IDEA that "tall skinny latte" meant "small non-fat latte." I could MAKE a small non-fat latte, if you ASK for it like a normal person.
I went back to the counter and showed her the cups. "These are the only sizes we have." Of course, she looked at me like I was a flaming idiot and said, "So?" My face flushed and I stammered, "We- we don't really have any that are tall AND skinny."
She flailed her arms and shoved her phone back into her purse. "Tall means that small size and skinny means skim milk," she barked.
And that is why I still didn't step foot into a Starbucks for years to come.