Cuppa Uranus

Okay — I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to Me and the Real World, the obvious just isn’t.    My eyes are all fucked up — I literally don’t “see the world” the way most human beings do.  It’s a long story.  

And my brain has been ruined by exposure to hard-core philosophy: seven years of college education wasted.  What passes for common sense among the sensible majority chaps my ass on the way in and out.  It makes daily interaction very challenging.  I unwittingly upset a lot of innocent people, and walk away shaken and bruised.

It’s why I drink.  And No, that doesn’t help.  (See what I mean?)

The first time I wander into a coffee shop is years and years after the business model has been up and running.  I find the counter — no small task; remember, I’m damn near blind at the time, and have been driving on the highway for hours — and ask for a large black coffee.  The counter person hands me an empty Styrofoam cup, takes my money, hands me my change, and walks away.  

I stand there for 6 minutes trying to attract the attention of somebody, which I eventually do only by waving the cup in the air and shouting for help.  A manager type hustles over and asks me what’s wrong.  

I ordered coffee.  I even paid for it.  All I got was an empty cup.   This one, see?  What did I do wrong?  Where’s my coffee?

We stare at each other from distant planets.

He explained, somewhat incredulously, that I was supposed to pour my own coffee.  The way it works, see, is they give me a cup and I walk over to a table where there are no less than 5 separate urns with different blends of coffee (each one marked!), not to mention sweetener, creamer, cup lids, napkins, stirrers, etc.  Didn’t they have this where I’m from?

I didn’t know any of this.  How the fuck was I supposed to know?  Is it written some place?  Did I miss a memo?  Is it asking too much for the counter-cretin to explain this when it takes my money and hands me an empty fucking cup when I ask for coffee?  And where the fuck are these goddam coffee urns, anyway?  (Remember, I’m blind.)

Okay — I have dozens of real-life stories just like this one.  You should see me at the self-check-out lines.  The drive-in windows.  The toll booths and self-parking machines.  The places where you order here, pay there, and pick up someplace else.  I have stopped the world with my combination of incompetence and insistence on explanations.

Which brings me to Starbucks.  

I know going in that Starbucks has its own language and culture.  But this isn’t my first time any more, and I know that I want a middle-sized, plain unadorned cup of  coffee.  I’m ready.  I order.

The androgynous counter person with shaven head and matching nostril rings asks me something about the “depth” of my coffee.  I am lost.  Utterly.  Coffee has “depth”?

Just fill it.  Or give it to me, I’ll fill it myself.  Point me to the urns.

It turns out (s)he means there are two blends available — one stronger than the other.   I am not clear which one has more “depth,” but I request the stronger of the two.

“Okay!” (s)he says.  “You need room?”

I point my face at this question in total oblivion.  I narrow my eyes.  Room?  I look over my shoulder into the establishment in search of empty chairs and tables, of which there are many.    I explain I will take my coffee outside, thank you.  If I ever get it.

Ha!  Silly me from the Planet Your Anus!  “Room” means, do I want the cup filled to the brim, or do I need “room”(!) left for added milk/cream/soy water/tit juice/rodent droppings or something else I never even conceived of!  “Room” in the cup!  Damn!

Tears fill my eyes.  I just can’t keep up.  All I want is a cup of coffee.  All I EVER want is a cup of coffee.   Why is this so complicated?

Then: a miracle.  “I’m sorry, man,” says the, well, the Being.  “I never even walked into a Starbucks until I started working here.  It’s weird.  It’s a whole new language, a whole culture……I had to study to get this minimum wage job.  I don’t talk like this, really, I don’t.  Here.”  He hands me a full cup brimming with beautiful dark coffee.  “Just take it.  Don’t say another word.  It’s not your fault.  Have a great day.”

I accept the cup –(s)he even added the lid (something else I can’t do — get it on, get it off, try to drink through the little tiny hole that burns your lips off when you try –) and totally stunned, take it outside to a table, away from the air conditioning and the nerds glued to their  phones and iPads.   

Exhausted and brain dead, I sit my ass down and make my way through about two thirds — Starbucks coffee is really good, almost as good as Dunkin Donuts —  before it’s time to make my way to my next appointment.  Now I need to pee.  No, I’m not venturing my way back in to find, then try to figure out how the toilet works.  Too complicated.  

I head back to my car, take one last swallow, pour out the remainder,  and pis into the cup.  Fortunately, I don’t quite fill it.  

Hmm.  What did I do with that cup?  I better check the car tomorrow.  If I can find it.

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10 Responses to Cuppa Uranus

  1. TM Pube says:

    I never go into Starbucks…I don’t like the coffee or the attitude. Anyways my passport expired years ago and frankly, like you, I don’t speak the language. The Rosetta Stone Company, the language training group, should put out a CD so the common people can learn ‘Starbucksian” should they get stuck near one with nary a Dunkin in sight.

    • Elemenno P says:

      @TM Pube : my thoughts exactly. I don’t even use the drive-through. I figure I don’t want to be stuck in my car surrounded by other drivers who are comfortable with Starbuckian. They’re probably dangerous, if not just weird.

  2. Frank of Oregon says:

    I find the counter — no small task; remember, I’m damn near blind at the time, and have been driving on the highway for hours — and ask for a large black coffee.

    He’s blind and he drives. And drinks coffee when he can find it. How can we tell this person is a south Floridian?

  3. Beardsley says:

    Starbucks coffee is very good, but you pay for the marketing and the ambiance and the whole experience that many people find endearing and welcoming. A good number have the exact opposite reaction. I’ve always been put off by the secret-handshake/in-crowd/private language culture I detect when I wander in. When I want a cup of coffee on the fly, I look for a McDonald’s drive-through, although there was a time I avoided them, too, when it was fashionable for the disembodied voice to ask me at 6:30 am if I “wanted fries with that.”

  4. Starbuckian Translator says:

    For me Starbucks rocks (drinking it right now), but luckily our community college has a four month course, three days a week on Starbuckian. There’s a lot to learn.

    We spent a week learning the exact origins of “Barista.” It’s an old Mafia term.

    We were also taught that Dunkin’ Doughnuts coffee is made from piss water.

    For old farts like you folks they now offer free “assisted sipping.” Make sure you use a handicapped parking spot. If you don’t there is a five dollar fee.

  5. odtley says:

    the alcoholics i met going in and out of rehab and loony bins tried to clean up by drinking nothing but coffee all the time and usually their favorite was mcdonalds because they said drinking it was the closest sensation to booze they could get which always puzzled me but i never was alcoholic anyway and coffee always gives me the trots

  6. Labrys says:

    I don’t like most Starbucks coffee cause it tastes burnt to me. And I don’t like that the folks in all that pretty ambiance don’t make enough money to keep most of them above the poverty line. I also do not speak the language.

    Pissing in one of their cups seems utterly appropriate to me!

    • Squathole says:

      When I got home and peed out the remainder of that ultra-strong brew, it actually smelled of coffee, which has never happened to me before. What’s left of my prostate gland gave me a long lecture about it, too, the essence of which was, “If you’re going to subject me to beverages from Labrys’ s neighborhood, go with Pike Brewery.” (Naughty Nellie is our favorite.)

  7. cljahn says:

    I always insist that the coffee go all the way to the bottom of the cup.

    And I don’t much care for Starbucks; the beans have a carbonized taste because their roasting ovens are too hot. I miss Barnie’s Coffee & Tea; that was a good cuppa.

    • Squathole says:

      CLJ: Did you disable the comments on your blog? I’m technologically challenged, of course, which may be the problem, but I can’t seem to figure out how to access the feature.

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