Coming home from our two day visit with my son, Owen and his lovely wife, Margaret, tired of driving on the Pennsylvania turnpike, my husband and I stopped at a rest area. As I came out of the ladies’ room, I saw said husband, Tom, in the Starbucks line. He never wants to stop at Starbucks, but I always do and I was ready for tea. Did I mention there was a line?

Chatting as we waited, he told me what he was planning to get. I gave him the wifely fishy eye, but said nothing. When it was his turn with the barrista, (that’s the Starbucks term for the counter help, if female) he said, “I’ll have a tall double java mocha espresso double latte, please.” The girl looked at him coldly, but with an eye to the line behind us, and with a gesture said, “Our drinks are on the board.” He looked up in some confusion because he’d thought he had named a drink he had heard of; certainly he had expressed what he wanted to drink. I said, “He needs to be awake.” So, a little grimly, she suggested one of the hot mocha drinks with a double shot of espresso in it. He said, “OK!” Then I asked for my favorite, brewed chai, “In a really big cup, whatever it is called” and got another foul look and the sad information that I could either have another kind of tea or the spiced “milk” product they call Chai Latte. I chose a real tea, which is a pain in the neck for them, but at least they make tea rightly enough, putting the bag(s) in the cup before adding water. No other restaurant does that, since no one drinks tea nor has any waitress (apparently) ever read Orwell .

Just to top our awfulness as Starbucks customers, I pulled out the three cards I currently have and we used up the remnants of two $5 gift card ones. I have a nearly full one that I bought at the local, but cannot tell the cards apart. The now-seriously-simmering barrista had to swipe all three cards to get the correct total to cover our bill.

The best part of the experience, actually, was the look on Tom’s face when he stopped at the side bar where you get sugar, cream, napkins, and after pulling out two packets of Splenda, took the lid of his not very tall drink and saw the inch of whipped cream on top. I didn’t laugh. I did say, “You might want to taste that before adding sweetener,” and pointed to the wood stirs so he could at least poke holes down to his beverage. After a vigorous stirring, he did taste the drink and said, “Yeah” and abandoned the Splenda packets. Then he abandoned me for long enough to get himself a five hour energy drink from a machine, apparently having no faith in his Starbucks coffee.

I must give credit or blame for this post to Robert Cheeks, who is my now friend on Facebook. He saw that I had written about this there and responded with “Blog this!”.

Articles by Kate Pitrone

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