I have a bit of a feud going with Starbucks.
Our relationship bloomed when I came back to NUIG in September and started studying again. Now I LOVE Starbucks. They are not so plentiful in Ireland, but I buy their beans whenever I find myself in their stores in Belfast or Dublin. I favour their frappucinos over ice-cream when I'm in the US. I have one of their (Product)RED brand travel cups that allows me to feel simultaneously caffeinated, socially and environmentally responsible. I bought it last summer while driving from Philadelphia to North Carolina with the Shafis. Its so water-tight and idiot proof that I don't need to stir in my milk and sugar, I just put the lid on and shake it; martini style.
The first time I visited the NUIG Starbucks and ordered my usual - good old fashioned filter coffee - the girl looked at the bottom of my beloved red travel mug for some sort of indication of what sized vessel I had presented her with. Seeing nothing, she filled it up, charged me €1.40 and conspiratorially told me to ask for a small whenever I come, because its just filter coffee and therefore not much more complicated than water, and the mug is not much bigger than a small anyway and they didn't have to give me a disposable cup every time and we just agreed that this was the best for everyone. I thanked her, and went on my way. That was the last time I saw her. Bless her cotton socks.
Excuse me a brief digression, I must explain why my Starbucks Feud is in my adventure blog. Hands on my heart, as this got more and more ridiculous, going to Starbucks became a bit of an adventure. If I wanted coffee I went to the kiosk in the Arts Millenium Building and had a little chat with Mary. If I wanted coffee and an argument with a stranger, I went to Starbucks.
The next time I went to Starbucks they charged me for a large. I told them it was €1.40 last time and she said that was fine. After this it started to get messy. Every time I tried to get coffee there was an argument as to what size the mug was. When I explained that it was somewhere between a small and a medium, they wouldn't believe me. I tried to rationalise that as it was filter coffee and not one of the button-pushed coffees of defined size and sugar content couldn't they just, ya know, hold the lever down half a second longer? Ocasionally, exacerbated, I lamented that it was a flipping Starbucks mug and this was flipping Starbucks how the flip should I know!? Sometimes I was charged for a small, sometimes a medium, sometimes a large. It didn't particularly bother me except when I got charged for the large. Oh oh thats not true. It also really bothered me when they charged me for a small but stopped filling the mug half way. OH COME ON!!!!!
I eventually had to stop going. There is one lady in there who I have identified as The Ringleader. I suspect she is the one who told all the others to gang up on me. I am quite certain she is the one who fired my rational little buddy from the start of the year. One day I ordered a small and she took a disposable cup over to the filter, filled it up, dumped the coffee into my environmentally friendly flask, and threw the disposable cup in the bin.
I think I have presented myself as quite an easy going fun loving person in this blog over the last few months so I won't explain what happened next. Suffice to know that I was right and she was wrong and perhaps I could have expressed this a little more eloquently and with slightly less colourful language but what happened happened and that was that.
I have been going to Mary in the Arts Millennium Building Kiosk for the last couple of months. She closed for the semester on Friday. Its summer here in Ireland allegedly. Happy April everyone!
Nervously, I walked down to the canteen this morning. I've grown a lot as a person in the last couple of months, but I'm frightened of Ringleader. My tactic of ignoring the problem in the hopes that it would go away finally bit me in the ass. I was left with an impossible choice: the dreaded NUIG canteen sludge, or Starbucks. I checked out the counter, scanned the veritable minefield for potential problems, and head held high I approached the gleaming glass and ordered a filter coffee of non specific size. The cashier smiled and said 'No problem.' I began to exhale. THEN! SUDDENLY! Ringleader popped her head up from behind the coffee machine and smiled menacingly* at me. I smiled back, sweeter than a vanilla latte.
'Actually, there is a problem,' said cashier. My heart began to pound uncontrollably in my chest. She had red travel mug in her hands. Perhaps this was the moment they had collectively fantasised about all these months. Maybe Ringleader was going to shout 'PULL', Cashier was going to throw red travel mug up in the air, and Ringleader was going to shoot it with her caramel syrup gun, letting it fall to the floor and smash into a million goopy pieces. The world stood still.
'Can you wait 4 minutes I was just going to make fresh coffee.'
'No, I'm afraid I can't.'
I am very busy. I had to get back to my desk immediately and get to work. The fact that I am now writing this is utterly irrelevant. I couldn't stand there for four full minutes eyeball to eyeball with Ringleader. Imagine standing on stage at a concert where your favourite band is playing, only imagine that you organised the whole thing, and the band are precisely four minutes late, and the support act can't simply play an additional four minutes because that doesn't allow me to explore this particular analogy. You get up in front of all those people, and you announce that there has been a bit of a delay, as the band are making fresh coffee. Then you stand there for the full four minutes. IMAGINE how long four minutes can be.
'I'll just to go the canteen,' defeatedly, I put my hand out for red travel mug.
'I can give you the end of the last brew, its just going to be a little strong,' she explains.
'I like strong,' I say, jutting my chin out towards Ringleader, who is now sharpening a machete on a wet stone, and licking the gleaming edge.
'OK. That will be......
Your favourite band finish their Venti Soy Cinnamon Dolce Lattes, and are making their way towards the stage. Your four minutes are nearly up. You look down on the crowd. They stare at you expectantly.
......... €1.40 please!'
You high five a million angels.
*Please note dramatic license. Ringleader did not smile menacingly. She smiled resignedly. She recognised me, of course, or at the very least she recognised my beloved travel mug of non-specific size. I think she was smiling wistfully for a half-forgotten time, before all this nonsense began, when were still on friendly terms. She's not evil. She just hates the environment, and loves Starbucks.