The Tale Of The Baffling Barista

My wife and I work the same shift at the same company, and that shift starts at 5am.  As a result, we’re usually very sleepy during the drive into work.  I have to say, it makes the other drivers nervous when they look over and see us both snoring, heads back, drooling.

This morning my wife felt the desire for Starbucks coffee and she asked[1] if we could stop at a drive through [or ‘drive-thru’ for all my American chums out there].

Of course.

We pulled up behind a car already in the queue [line] ordering their coffee.  Soon enough, after a brief 3 hours, the car finally moved and we rolled up the microphone.

The speaker crackled into life.

“Welcome to Starbucks”

“Hi”, we both replied in sleepy unison.

“Yeah, we’re actually not open right now.”, came the lacklustre response in that inimitable style that made it sound like a question.

“Oh….OK. Never mind, thank you”

We looked at each other, shrugged and started to drive off.  Unfortunately we couldn’t go far as the car in front of us was at the next window waiting for their coffee.

We couldn’t get around them and, despite my wife’s insistence I beep my horn and ‘urge’ them to move the fuck out of the way, I decided to reverse back along the drive through lane as there were no cars behind us…..at 4:30am on a Monday.

I wonder why.

Anyway, as we reversed back past the microphone/speaker we could hear the woman babbling something over the intercom, so we stopped.

“Welcome to Starbucks, can I take your order?”

We looked at each other again, but this time in total confusion.  My wife leaned across me and said, “Wait….I thought you said you were closed.”

The speaker crackled back into life, “No, I said we we’re not open right now.”

Wait, isn’t that the same thing?

The speaker continued to crackle with attitude as the woman told us why they weren’t open yet; something about waiting for something or whatever….I don’t know.  Anyway, her tedious tale concluded with her asking if she could take our order.

Maybe it was the fact we were half asleep and devoid of caffeine, but she made no sense whatsoever.

So if you’re reading this and you’re not from the USA, take note…..’Not Open‘ and ‘Closed‘ mean different things over here….apparently.

Just like ‘Starbucks Barista‘ and ‘Testy Imbecile‘.

He he, ‘Testy’

[1] Demanded

Two in the pink….

Usually,  when I write a post,  it’s regarding a situation or event that either amused me…or frustrated me to the point where it was simply laughable. 

But sometimes,  just sometimes,  something comes along that requires no back story or train of thought. 

So,  in keeping true to my ‘Life Is Funny’ mantra,  here is a photo of a van I was stuck behind in traffic the other day. 

In this post I claimed energy drinks gave you anal seepage; it now seems they have a remedy for that. 

10 things I’ve learned about Americans that I didn’t know before.

I love top ten lists.

I think I’ve read every single one of them online, from the top ten destinations in the world or the top ten things to do in video-games to the top ten ways to kill and dispose of a body.

Pff, like I didn’t already know that.

And the other day I realised I haven’t ever composed my own.  It wasn’t due to an oversight; I simply didn’t have any topic that warranted a top ten list.  I suppose I could’ve done the top ten nicest arses in the gym…but that is a) usually my wife’s, or b) pointed out to me by my wife which means it’s technically her top ten and not mine.

So I thought long and hard (smirk) about it and I discovered I did have something that warranted a top ten list.  This is something that encapsulates a lot of ideas I’ve had recently and pulls them together into one post.

You see, before I moved to the USA, I knew there were certain eccentricities, weird behaviours and foibles the Americans had, like the inability to keep quiet, the lack of portion control or the fact they are easily offended by every single thing ever.

Seriously, you call someone a cunt once…..

But there have been a whole shit-ton of things I didn’t know about until I was actually amongst them. And by ‘shit-ton’, I mean ten.

So here are ten things I’ve learned about Americans that I was blissfully unaware of before I lived here.

 

1 – They’re crackers about soup

I’m being literal here, they can’t comprehend that soup can be eaten without first shoving in fistfuls of crumbled up crackers.  In the UK we have a famous brand of crackers called Jacobs and we put all sorts of things on them like cheese, hams (deli meats), spreads and various types of pâté, but I’ve never ever heard of anyone anywhere…ever…crumbling them up and putting them in their minestrone.

Now I think about it, I haven’t seen pâté since I’ve been here.  Probably because there’s no sugar or caffeine in it.

crackers

They’re crackers about crackers…

Anyway, I’ve asked a few Americans why they put crackers in their soup and I get the same blank look and awkward shrug I always get when I ask them why they do what they do.

They simply have no idea.

It’s just what they do apparently.  Some say it’s due to the crunch, but that has to be utter bollocks because the crunch dissolves in piping hot soup in less time than it takes for a redneck to finger his sister.

Note – I just asked a work colleague (and fellow blogger) if that last sentence could be considered more offensive than funny.

He asked me “Do you find it funny?”

I do.

He then asked, “Is it more funny to you than offensive?

It is.

“Then post it”.

I did.

He then followed up with “Did you know that ‘incest’ is the most searched word on PornHub?”

I didn’t.

So sister-fingering stays.

Worryingly, I wouldn’t have even questioned this a year ago.  I would have just written what I found funny and hoped you lovely readers out there would just ‘get it’ (the humour, not the finger).

My god, am I becoming more American?  Am I worried you’re going to be offended?  Am I going to appear on this list?

Nah.

 

2 – They don’t do rounds in a bar

I realise I’ve already covered this one in a previous post, but it really did catch me by surprise.  Interestingly, one of my friends who reads my blog has actually started to go into rounds with me when we go out drinking (shout out to A.G!).

busy-bar

I still find it bizarre that everyone buys their own drink and then complains that it takes forever to get served.

 

3 – Energy drinks!

This is another one I’ve already bleated on about, but seriously…what is going on here America?  You guys drink more of this shit in a day than is available anywhere else in the world over the course of an entire year!  It’s got to the point now where fridges in gas stations across the land are awash with hundreds of different brands, flavours, sizes and strengths.  It seems to be the answer to everything here.

Need a pick-me-up? Have a Red Bull.

Hungover?  Have a Monster.

Heart not beating fast enough?  Down a Rockstar (but not in a groupie kind of way).

11806581

Some people imbibe these Taurine infused, over caffeinated silos of flavoured sugar water with the regularity and ferocity of chain smoking vapers, but more twitchy.

 

4 – TMA (Too Many Acronyms)

I already knew about things like the FBI, the CIA, the DMV or the KKK…and there are the obvious ones like FYI, WTF, OMG, ETC…

But I had no idea how much Americans love to acronym everyday shit….every day.

E.g. (see what I did there?)

TMI (Too Much Information – something I was hearing a LOT. I wonder why.)

BRB (Be Right Back – although why people don’t just say “Be Right Back”; it takes the same amount of time to say….and in the time it took to explain that to me, they could’ve been right back)

CPA (Certified Public Accountant – How the fuck (or HTF) was I supposed to know that?)

FSA (Flexible Savings Account, and NOT the Financial Services Authority!)

FMLA (The Family and Medical Leave Act – It’s a thing out here related to being off sick from work, or something.  Personally I thought it was something to do with a vagina)

TFTI (Thanks For The Invite – This is really a thing.  I’ve heard it used in conversations.  I tend to reply with ‘NP’ which doesn’t go down too well)

PSA (Public Service Announcement. It’s not a service if I don’t know what it means)

CPS (Child Protection Services – something children actually use to threaten parents with; those precious little fucking snowflakes)

OAB (Over Active Bladder, and not Old Aged Bastard as I first thought….although they are closely linked)

HOA (Home Owner’s Association – A governing body that tells you what you can or can’t do with your home, maintains the upkeep of the lawns and parks that you never visit and charges you a fee for that.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?)

HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle – This is a lane on the Freeway (motorway) for cars with more than one person. That’s right, in America, TWO passengers is considered high occupancy)

SOP (Standard Operating Procedures – and NOT something you use in the shower)

EO (Early Out – This is when you leave early from work…because simply saying you’re leaving early is too much, apparently)

QBR (Quarterly Business Report – It makes sense now that I’ve written it, but try being in a conversation when it’s being used every other word and you can’t understand why they keep talking about a UK football club).

It’s a little OTT, TBH.

FFS.

picard-acronym

 

5 – Their jokes are just awful.

Americans can’t tell jokes.  I mean, they can TELL a joke, but the jokes aren’t funny.  Back home we have things called Christmas Crackers which two people pull apart and they make a loud ‘snap’ noise (the crackers, not the people).

cracker-pits

These dogs are about to snap (groan)

Inside these noisy little bastards is a crap little toy, a flimsy tissue paper crown and a joke; a tame, vanilla joke intended to not cause offence in any way.  It’s simple humour to appeal to adults and kids alike.

That’s the sort of jokes I get told here.  Things like, “Where do you take a sick bee?  To a waspital”. Seriously, it’s like that.

I once tested the water with a Jimmy Carr classic; “What do you get if you put a baby in a blender?  An erection.”

The water was cold.  Very, very cold.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been told some genuinely funny jokes in the US, and my new and awesome American friends are some of the funniest people I know, but overall I’ve noticed an innocence in the joke telling here.

This from a country that brought us Family Guy.

Weird.

 

6 – They subscribe to foreign stereotypes.

I knew America had a warped view or the world – if Epcot is anything to go by – but they REALLY believe the stereotypes of the world.

For example, they genuinely believe that the English (or ‘British’ as they call us, which I’ve given up trying to explain) drink high tea every day from small porcelain cups and saucers with our pinkies firmly sticking out.  They also believe that we accompany this tea with either scones or crumpets.

They also find it hard to believe that English muffins aren’t English, French toast isn’t French, and German chocolate cake isn’t German. The irony here is the fact they call Belgian waffles, ‘waffles’….and those genuinely ARE Belgian.

stereotyped-world

When you tell them this, they look at you with the tilted head of a puppy and simply don’t believe you.

Minds, blown.

 

7 – They are the centre of the world, literally.

I was shown this.

usa-centre-map

America, the centre of the world

And apparently, so are children.

Yes, that’s right, schools are apparently teaching this version of the map of the world.  I asked my wife about this and her face dropped before then bursting into laughter saying it was true and she had forgotten that schools actually teach this!

As much as I try and keep my blog light and funny, it does sadden me that so many people I’ve met here are truly clueless about anything outside the US borders.  One woman my wife worked with thought Europe was a country and didn’t know Britain was an island.  I’ve even spoken to people who didn’t know there was a difference between Austria and Australia.

I’m not going to say anymore about this because I’m sure this will be the basis of a future post.

 

8 – Can’t recycle.

I know there is a huge drive to recycle in America nowadays – and so many people are doing it – but that’s not what I’ve experienced. It warms my heart that my employer has recycling bins everywhere, on every floor, and I love opening those bins up and seeing paper, soda cans and…food?  Yes, that’s right, America seems to believe that food is recyclable.

Technically it is, but that’s called ‘poo’.

It’s not only food I’ve seen; there’s been tissues, plastic wrapping, broken mugs and body parts.

Oh, wait, no…never mind.  I haven’t caught anyone putting the wrong things into the recycling bins so that’s not happened yet.  Give it time.

recycle-rage

And it doesn’t stop with recycling.  The USA is unbelievably wasteful.  There are so many products that have a one time use and then are thrown away (in the wrong bin).  People will use a paper/plastic plate to spread cream cheese on their bagel (because, apparently, if it isn’t cream cheese, smoked salmon or some shit called ‘schmear’, it doesn’t belong on a bagel) and then throw away the plate and knife. I’ve been asked to eat off paper plates at home because it ‘saves on washing up’, but it doesn’t save the world (which, as we all know, spans from Maine to California)

The other day I was waiting at a red light behind a car and the driver opened her door and threw out all her rubbish onto the road.  And then, without a care in the world, closed the door and didn’t look back.  If she had, she would’ve seen me giving her the finger…and not in a redneck/sister kind of way.

 

9 – Entitlement

Again, I’ve already talked about how entitled people are here, but I had no idea to what extent.  Jesus, some people here believe the world owes them a favour.  I’ve encountered people like this in my life before, but not on the scale I have in America.

Here’s an example that caused this to make my top ten list….

I heard a tale of a customer who had been sent a gift by a company for being a great customer.  They sent her a beautiful, hand carved, solid wood shoe rack.  The customer had mentioned in passing that she really wanted one, so they decided to treat her.

She received the gift and then, instead of being grateful, called in to complain it didn’t fit in the part of the room she wanted it to and was forced (yes, ‘forced’) to donate it.  She then demanded discounts on all future purchases for the stress and grief caused by receiving a gift she couldn’t use.

In England we would keep the shoe rack, even if it was an inconvenience.

No, really, it’s fine.  Honestly, it’s fine.  No, it’s lovely, I promise.  It’s fine.  I don’t want to be a bother.  Seriously, it’s fine.  Thank you. Sorry. Sorry. Thank you.  I’m sorry.

hold-door

I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve wanted to do this…

 

10 – Subtitles for accents!

If you watch any TV show or documentary in America where they’re talking to someone with an accent…there are subtitles.  Now, for clarity, I’m not talking about people speaking a different language than English.  No, these people are actually speaking English but with an accent.

I’m not talking about complicated accents like Glaswegian (because no-one understands those guys, not even the Scottish), but instead Italian, French, Spanish, German, Alabama etc…

I couldn’t believe it.

Is America so unable to understand an accent that’s not home grown?  Mind you, I’ve been misunderstood more times than a redneck fingers his…..oh, wait, I’ve done that joke.

I said, I-‘V-E   B-E-E-N  M-I-S-U-N-D-E-R-S-T-O-O-D  M-O-R-E  T-I-M-E-S  T-H-A-N  A  R-E-D-N…oh, never mind.

bowtie-anger

A very ‘British’ cup of coffee

I’m currently at work and I’ve just been to make myself a mug of coffee.

Here’s what happened.

I poured the coffee, added sweetener (I try and avoid sugar from a health point of view, despite the fact that sweetener is nothing but chemicals…but hey, less calories right?), and opened the fridge to get a carton of milk.

One of my colleagues was pouring herself a coffee, saw me add the milk to my coffee and said “How very British”.

I looked at my coffee confused for a moment, then at her, then back to my coffee. What’s very British?  Coffee?  Er, I think you’ll find that’s a very American thing.

Then she placed her cup under one of these bad boys…

CoffeeMate

…and starting pumping her beverage with Hazelnut…erm…’cream’?  Is it cream?

(Shrugs) Who knows?

I smiled at her as she pumped 6 doses of this stuff into her coffee and said “I used to use that until I saw the calorie content.  That’s why I went back to using milk”

She looked at me blankly for a moment.  I couldn’t tell if she was trying to comprehend what I’d said or if she was recuperating from having to count all the way up to 6.

She eventually replied with “And you guys put milk in your tea, right?” as she curled up her nose in disgust.

“Yes we do.  Actually it’s only you guys who don’t”, I said, a little defensively.

There was a pause.

“Yeah”.

She had clearly lost her way in this conversation and went back to stirring her mug of Hazelnut ‘cream’ with a bit of coffee in it.

As I walked away I turned back, smiled, and said, “Tea with milk is epic”.

She laughed.

I don’t know why.

I don’t think she knew either.

Drinks, Doners and Denial

On Friday I was made redundant and, to celebrate (or should it be commiserate?), we all went to the pub to have leaving drinks.

It was messy.

I must have had about 20-25 drinks before we decided to call it a night and leave London to get the train back to Crawley.

When we finally arrived it was midnight and a very inebriated wife and I thought it would be a great idea to have doner kebab meat and chips (with chilli sauce).

I think the word ‘great’ was a bit of a stretch.

After we’d eaten like pigs at a trough we each took an Alka-Seltzer XS (with caffeine) before we went to bed. This was an attempt to avoid the inevitable hangover that was lurking a few hours away.

In the morning I didn’t have a headache or anything, although my stomach felt all weird and trembly.

It must have been the caffeine.

Yes…definitely the caffeine.

image

Auschwitz to decaf

My wife and I were in Starbucks again this morning.  We’re always so tired in the morning and it’s just around the corner from work.  In fact, there are two Starbucks around the corner from work, practically across the road from each other, but i’ll come back to that later.

As I was stood there looking up at the menu of coffees (despite already knowing what I wanted before we went in), my wife gestured at something behind me and said “Oh my god, would you look at that.”

I turned around and saw this.

Starbucks MS
(actual photo taken)

“It’s just fucking coffee” she said, rolling her eyes.

I must admit, it was a bit much.  I understand that a business, especially one as large as Starbucks, will have a mission statement.  Yes it’s only coffee but I can appreciate the need to direct the focus of their global brand through ideals that will benefit both the customer and themselves, but come on!

They want to inspire and nurture the human spirit?  Do me a favour!  The only thing they want to nurture is my wallet; have you seen the prices of their drinks?

And with regards to ‘one neighbourhood at a time”, I have to agree; these fuckers are everywhere.

starbucks escher

In fact, according to Wikipedia:

“Starbucks is the largest coffeehouse company in the world, with 23,305 stores in 65 countries and territories, including 13,049 in the United States, 1,909 in China, 1,555 in Canada, 1,089 in Japan and 927 in the United Kingdom”

Yeah, I’m not surprised in the slightest.  I’m convinced a majority of these are in Tottenham Court Road.

After reading that entry from Wikipedia, I decided to Google some interesting facts about Starbucks and  I came across this interesting list of 15 things about Starbucks that will blow your mind.

It’s crazy to think how successful their global domination has been, and let’s be honest, it IS a global domination.  At least, that’s how their Mission Statement reads.

Don’t believe me?

Replace the words ‘inspire and nurture’ with ‘destroy’ and you have something that wouldn’t have been out of place in Nürnberg in 1934.

But that’s possibly a little unfair methinks.

Make no mistake, I am NOT drawing direct comparisons between the largest coffeehouse company in the world and one of the most evil men in history (That would be like comparing a blowjob to sticking your dick in a blender), but Starbucks have succeeded where Adolf hadn’t.

Maybe he should’ve sold coffee instead of drinking it.  All that caffeine made him a bit ‘shouty’.

Just be honest Starbucks, we all know what your mission statement is.

“To make as much money as we can and spread like cancer;
one person, one cup,
and one neighbourhood at a time”

Don’t sugar-coat it with this cheesy and cringe-worthy bollocks.

Oh, and get your punctuation in order; that was one thing Hitler got right.

Then again, he was a bit of a grammar Nazi.

nurnberg starbucks

UPDATE – 29th August 2014

My wife and I went into the same Starbucks this morning and the Mission Statement has been painted over.  It’s not there anymore!

I’m not big-headed in any way, but I can’t help hoping thinking it’s because hopefully maybe someone working there read this post!