Before I left Seattle, my friends were so sweet and generous and gave me tons of Starbucks gift cards for the journey. Although I do not prefer to support Starbucks, as 1) they are THE MAN, and 2) their coffee tastes like bitter sewer water strained through moldy cotton balls (sorry, Dad), I have gladly used these cards for over-priced veggie trays and large quantities of hot tea. It has become second nature for me to walk up to the cashier and order, “A venti, single-bag, Wild Sweet Orange tea.”
Yesterday, amidst the tawny, velvet Virginia fields, I ordered my usual from a Starbucks drive-thru. “We’ll have your total at the window,” the voice from the billboard said.
I pulled up to the window, and the cashier stated, “That will be $5.40, please,” while handing me an entire box of Wild Sweet Orange tea bags. I immediately corrected her: “Oh, no – I wanted a cup of tea.”
“In a cup?”
“Like, these tea bags, in a cup?”
“Um… yes – just one.”
“We don’t do that.”
My eyes quickly darted to the green emblem of the mermaid, assuring myself that yes, I was indeed at Starbucks, home of my beverage. However, I could not collect my thoughts rapidly enough – because how could I possibly have comprehended the concept of no tea? – and so what came out of my mouth was a jerky, disconnected slew of syllables: “I – uh – meh – hmmgh – sigh.”
Apron-clad woman looked alarmed.
I finally pulled myself together enough to explain, “I would like one tea bag, in your largest cup – a cup of tea.”
“Oh, like, with hot water?”
It is moments like this that I wish I had a video camera to capture my facial reaction. Moments when my thoughts are all OF COURSE with hot water, how else do you make tea, and how can you possibly misunderstand the process of placing a tea bag in a cup of hot water, and don’t you know you work for Starbucks, the czar of uniformity?, and yet all that comes out of my mouth is, “Yes, ma’am.”
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Today, I drive from Blacksburg to Norfolk, and will finally arrive at the Atlantic Ocean. It’s about time.