Sunday, May 11, 2014

Coffee With a Shot of Entitlement

The other day I went to Starbucks for lunch. I ordered a pastry and, as always, a decaf iced coffee. The decaf part is very important, and not necessarily for the taste. As far as I know I'm not allergic to anything, but caffeine does give me a weird combination of constipation and diarrhea. (Perhaps that is an allergic reaction, but I digress.) We tend to think of anything to do with butts as inherently humorous, but constipation and diarrhea are both medical conditions; if you have them, you are considered sick. People even die from them, a whole lot more than shark attacks. People also die from allergies. For example, if a person who is allergic to caffeine ingests caffeine, that person will likely have medical issues possibly requiring hospitalization or even causing death.

The barista apparently didn't think it was that important, because he didn't write anything and didn't give me decaf. Bear in mind my order was not that complex: Just the type of drink, flavor, size, and decaf. What possible excuse did he have for getting my order wrong? I didn't come at a busy time, so it's not like the server was hurried. In fact, I was the only person ordering at the time. I've heard of "decaffing" people as a bizarre and ineffective form of spite, but this is even more fucked up. Caffeine is a drug. Would you sneak vodka into someone's drink when they specifically asked for root beer?

You just want a jelly sandwich? But you can hardly taste the peanut butter.

The typical excuse in this situation is "you can't taste the difference." First of all, fuck that. Total bullshit. I can easily taste the difference and I wasn't looking for it. If people only order decaf for the taste, that premise already proves you wrong. Second, how does that make it okay? You can't taste a rufie in your drink either. That doesn't mean it has no effect.

The reasoning for intentionally ruining someone's drink seems to be that the customer is not always right, and is just being pedantic (for the sake of pedantry) if ordering anything but a standard generic drink with no qualifiers. It's only natural to think that; after all, humans are all born with identical sensory experiences and have no preferences, which is why no two people have ever argued about where they should go for food.

If you couldn't tell, that was sarcasm. No mr. barista, YOU are the one being an asshole by not giving me EXACTLY what I want. There should be no variation, because it's your fucking job to match orders exactly. This is where apathy meets ableism, because if there is a slight variation, I probably cannot consume the product.

"HELP ME MY MOUTH IS BEING CONSUMED IN RAGING FIRE BY THE DARK LORD SATAN HIMSELF" is my reaction in both cases, so yeah, I guess I can't taste the difference.
What should I have done in this situation? A blog post certainly isn't going to find its way back to its human subject. Should I have dumped the drink on the floor to give the guy a big mess to clean up? Thrown it in his face? I would probably get kicked out, but there are plenty of other Starbuckses to choose from. Or should I have respectfully asked for a replacement? Still an unnecessary inconvenience to both of us, but it would have been more "socially acceptable" than something more dramatic. I could file a complaint to the manager and hope that 1) the message reaches its destination, 2) the guy serving me isn't the manager, and 3) the manager actually gives a shit.

Unfortunately, I'm not and can't possibly be prepared for every situation that calls for confrontation. So what I really did was quietly leave and then throw the drink into the nearest trash can; $4.08 down the drain. The lesson I take away is that I need to stop being afraid of making a scene. I'm naturally conflict-averse, but I do not want to be. We do not need to tolerate intolerance, or be nice to assholes. If you're afraid of being an asshole, you're probably not the one doing it.

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