Apr 21, 201709:55 AM
Living, loving, laughing, and learning in the new New Orleans
Why I’m taking a hard pass on the Starbucks trend
I don’t often feel my age (36). I work on a college campus with many people who are much younger than I am, which means I have a basic understanding of text abbreviations and Instagram, and I have a 10-year-old daughter, which means I am fluent in emoji and Snapchat filters. I listen pretty much exclusively to pop music and can hold my own in a conversation with my teenage stepson about Twenty One Pilots or Ed Sheeran – and am even savvy enough to occasionally text him memes. And my 4-year-old makes sure I know who Finley Jay from “Daily Bumps” is even though I really wish I didn’t.
All of which is to say, I’m not some kind of clueless weirdo living under a rock. I’m hip. I’m with it. (No one says “with it,” right? Crap.) I’m relevant and have some social media knowhow. But I am not buying a damn Unicorn Frappuccino.
I’m not buying one for myself because, while I am a coffee fiend and will drink the occasional latte, I am pretty much a plain iced coffee-with-skim kind of girl. I like mochas but not enough to justify the calories, and Frappuccinos (I feel stupid even typing it) make my stomach hurt just looking at them. So I’m not buying one for myself because I just plain don’t have any interest.
I’m not buying one for my kids either, though. It’s not because I care about the sugar content. That should be the reason, but if I’m being honest, I really don’t keep a close eye on how much sugar my kids eat. And it’s not because I am giving the finger to corporate America. I like farmers markets as much as the next girl, and I actually prefer iced coffee from Gracious or PJ’s over Starbucks, but I’m moderately embarrassed to admit that I don’t have any serious convictions about where I shop. I’m definitely not above getting my kids things from Starbucks or Popeyes or McDonald’s – and Ruby is obsessed with the secret menu “butterbeer” from Starbucks (it’s steamed milk with toffee nut, cinnamon, and caramel syrups in case you’re not “in the know” like we are).
No, the real reason I am not buying a Unicorn Frappuccino is because I worked at an ice cream store all through college – and so I can’t bear to make anyone make one. I remember, even almost two decades later, crying in an exhausted heap, my stained apron bunched up around me, on the floor of the walk-in freezer on “free scoop night.” I remember when I went home after a long shift and was half-drunk with my friends when I saw an ad come on TV for some kind of special sundae, and I immediately said, “Oh, shit,” as well as a few other choice words before chugging the last of my drink because I knew – and I was right – that I’d be called upon to make dozens of those trendy, gimmicky, high-maintenance sundaes the very next day. I remember the feeling of blind, hot rage welling up inside me when we had a line of people out the door with 10 minutes left until closing on a Friday night and every. damn. person. wanted some kind of fancy blended concoction that took an eternity to make instead of just a scoop of ice cream like a reasonable human.
I know now – and knew then, logically – that companies exist to make customers happy. That employees should just do their jobs with a smile, make change and polite conversation, and grin and bear it. That if the customer wants a chocolate milkshake one minute before we lock the doors, even though we cleaned the milkshake machine 30 minutes ago and maybe they could have had this craving sooner than 9:59 p.m., that my job is to say, “Of course, ma’am – do you want it with chocolate ice cream or with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup?”
And, for the record, that is what I always said. I was never rude to a customer (OK, very rarely, and they always deserved it). I never lied and said we couldn’t make something because the machine was broken. I once even let a man in at 10:02 p.m. and made him a three-scoop banana royale because his pregnant wife had demanded one – and he was so nice and apologetic that I didn’t begrudge him the extra time.
Still, though, even after working at a white collar desk job for many, many years, I remember the sentiment of, “Are you kidding me?” and “You’re a monster!” that complex or repetitive orders engendered in me far too well to ask a Starbucks barista to make my kids a Unicorn Frappuccino.
Unless they really want one.
And then I promise I’ll tip.