Non-Fat with Whip?!?!

3 Dec

I rarely go to Starbucks

I’m not familiar with the lingo.  I’m that hated person in line who orders a medium when such a sizing concept clearly does not exist in the world of Starbucks.  I cause confusion at the cash register and ask too many questions.  People in line behind me growl and make me aware that I’m not welcome in their domaine of caffeine.  I feel like a French-illiterate tourist in Paris. 

Visiting Starbucks is a socially intimidating experience for me. 

But as awkward as the experience can be, I gathered up the courage for a visit last Saturday because:

A) My sore throat was killing me and nothing sounded better than a steaming hot beverage. 
B) There are 4 Starbucks locations within a 2-mile radius of my house.

You do the math.  Starbucks’ “we’re taking over the world, one street corner at a time” marketing strategy worked on me.

Upon walking into the Starbucks that’s across the street from another Starbucks that’s adjacent to the other Starbucks inside the grocery store, my anxiety was temporarily eased by the sight of the seasonal trio of holiday flavors on the menu board.  It’s the most wonderful time of the year, maybe the cool coffee kids will take it easy on me.  Still, I practiced my order, muttering the foreign words under my breath as I waited in line, wanting so desperately to fit in with the regulars when my turn at the register came.  I finally got to the counter and spat out my order with such confidence and assertiveness that I was sure no one in the room had any inkling that I was a Starbucks outsider with a sore throat.

“Grande non-fat peppermint white chocolate mocha, please.”

“Alright… grande nonfat PWM.  Did you want whipped cream on that?”

Oh crap! I was not prepared for this question.  I thought I had spelled out all the specifications this time.  Quickly, Donna, quickly! 

“Uh… yes!”

Yes, that’s a good decision.  You like whipped cream. 

All seemed well.  No one behind me was grimacing.  I survived the Starbucks ordering test.  Phew!

I browsed the shelves of holiday gift merchandise while waiting for the baristas to prepare my precisely ordered beverage, feeling the same kind of relief as when my name was finally called out for dodgeball team picks in high school P.E.  Thank goodness I wasn’t last.  Thank goodness I finally mastered the Starbucks lingo this chilly morning.

Just as my thought stream shifted to how many different sizes and types of Starbucks thermoses is truly necessary, I heard the calling.

“Donna! Grande nonfat peppermint white chocolate mocha!”

Me and my itchy throat giddily approached the pickup counter as the barista poured my piping hot beverage into that special holiday edition red paper cup.  She reached for the lid, but pulled back.

“With whip?” The barista asked, ceasing all motion, seemingly confused, in a half-rhetorical manner.

With what?  What did she say? What’s wrong?  What’s the hold up?

The barista turned her quizzical glance directly towards my bewildered self.   

“Non-fat… with whip?” She asked again, this time slower in pace while addressing me directly, with strong emphasis placed on each syllable of her inquiry.

“Uh… yeah…” I stammered, not quite sure what to think.  Then, the lightbulb finally went off in my congested, achy head.  “Oh yes!  Whipped cream!  Yes, with whipped cream!” 

Sure that I had somehow managed to jump through an unforeseen second hurdle, I looked for a nod, or a yes, or some sort of signal that the barista had understood what I said.

But she just said it again, “non-fat, WITH whip?”  Emphasis on fewer words this time.

I nodded for visual confirmation.  Maybe she had trouble hearing me.

She reached for the cannister of whipped cream, muttering to her self “non-fat with whip?!?!” at least a couple more times, as if the request were some deep philosophical question requiring thorough self reflection.

Finally, the fluffy topping was on the mocha and the lid was snapped shut.  She handed me the beverage, repeating once more, this time with an unequivocal tone of disbelief and disapproval, “Peppermint white chocolate mocha, non-fat with whip.”

I grabbed the cup and bolted out the door, feeling as if I had committed some unspoken but deadly sin.  I wanted to shout back to her, “I know the whipped cream negates the non-fat milk!  I know!  I’m not stupid!  But I like whipped cream!  And why not cut fat from the milk where I can?!?!”  True, I have gotten weird looks in the past for ordering things like veggie burgers with bacon (I like the taste of the veggie burger patties and I like bacon, why not have them together?), chili-cheese fries with fat free ranch dressing (it’s a horrendously unhealthy guilty pleasure, so why not cut save some calories where possible?), pad thai with a combination of tofu and chicken (actually, in Asian cultures, tofu is not so much considered a meat substitute as much as a food group of its own, so combining meat with tofu is quite common).  Most service staff will usually ask again just to make sure they got my slightly-off-the-wall request right, but none have so explicitly judged me for these types of orders until Saturday.

As I sat in the car in the parking lot sipping my slightly too sweet peppermint white chocolate mocha (nonfat with whip, yes, yes), I knew it was time to give up.  I’ll never be cool enough for Starbucks.

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6 Responses to “Non-Fat with Whip?!?!”

  1. Hayley 12/04/2007 at 9:28 am #

    In London, I always got the hot chocolate when it was really cold out. I just can’t make myself drink coffee. But I would get the non-fat with whipped cream too. In my mind, they just cancelled each other out, but it was better than having fat and fat. You’re not crazy. I totally get it!

  2. foodczar 12/04/2007 at 11:25 am #

    Donna, my dear, the question you should be asking is not whether you will ever be cool enough for Starbucks but will Starbucks be cool enough for such a class act as you? Hmmmm???

  3. luniz 12/04/2007 at 2:37 pm #

    You’re just too nice. Do like I do. Stand in line impatiently and scowl at everybody who looks at you. When you get to the register, order “regular coffee”. When they ask what size, narrow your eyes and say “medium” in a slightly threatening tone. When they ask “venti” or whatever in reply, you say “Yea, that one” or if you’re really in a bad mood, “Sure, whatever”. Then pay in cash and while they’re counting out change turn around and scowl at everybody in line behind you who will probably blaspheme the pure goodness that is coffee with sugar and milk and soy for Pete’s sake. Then go drink your coffee outside without a laptop or ipod or people to talk to. Like you’re so cool that all you need is a cup of coffee.

  4. luniz 12/04/2007 at 2:37 pm #

    ps I’m glad you’re feeling at least somewhat better. You should read Adam’s great post about Kavala on my thread at chowhound.

  5. donnaaries 12/04/2007 at 6:21 pm #

    Luniz, first of all, I like your way of thinking!

    And secondly, those chicken livers and the spanakopita-in-a-casserole dishes sound interesting. Sounds like I need to stop by Kavala when I’m in the area (and that’s the problem, I’m not in the area much).

  6. guttural 12/07/2007 at 4:32 pm #

    Don’t worry Donna…so sorry you couldn’t join us at Kavala, but you should have seen luniz scowl at the chicken livers (j/k, but a funny visual, no?)

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