Last week during the snowstorm (that didn't happen), my very pregnant wife and I were awoken by a 2.5 year-old terror we claim on our taxes at 4:00 AM. It was quite obvious nobody was going back to bed anytime soon, so we got up. We made coffee, discovered TV at that time of the day still sucks and googled "orphanage" on our respective iPhones. Miraculously the kid fell asleep at 5:00 and we joined her until about 9:00 AM. A second round of coffee was needed... and that's where our story really starts.
I put on my clothes and headed out into the snow rain to retrieve coffee from Starbucks. I was bracing myself for a nightmare scenario where there would be a line around the block and a single barista working. I was presently surprised to find a short line and a full staff as I entered the store. That's the last pleasant thing I experienced.
The regulars were all gathered at a single table pooling their powers of annoyance into one giant laser beam of WTF behavior to shoot at unsuspecting strangers. You may recall my earlier piece about them. However, they were not the problem this time... well, any more than they usually are.
The line had four people in it as I made the turn, around the barrier and prepared to pre-order my two drinks. I was third in line by the time I was in position to order. Things were really looking up - I was considering trying to order something other than my go to drink (grande hazelnut skim latte - the only thing I know how to order). Then I noticed that the woman standing in front of the register and the roughly fifty pieces of merchandise she was attempting to buy.
If you live in Arlington, you know all about the 50 year-old rich white women who do nothing but buy shit and sleep (they may not sleep, I have never followed one back to their cave). These women ask questions like "what do you have in the back" at Crate and Barrel because they already own everything on display. Somehow one of these ladies found themselves in my Arlington Starbucks amongst their modest impulse purchase offerings and the store hit their non-coffee sales quota for the month that morning.
It took a solid ten minutes for the guy behind the counter to ring her up. She left with two tall lattes and four bags of the crap nobody ever seems to buy at Starbucks. It was ants-in-your-armpit-annoying to watch the hipster behind the counter figure out how to ring up things no one has ever purchased before while trying to keep up with the barrage of questions about return policies and upcoming stock clearance items.
No drink could be pre-ordered because the other Starbucks employees were all helping to try and figure out what all that crap actually cost and if it was actually for sell, or did this woman haul a display piece up with the intention of buying it.
Would you be surprised if I told you that she needed help to her car? Of course you wouldn't be.
It took me 25 minutes to do something that should have taken five and thus is life in the medium city at Starbucks.