The child of middle-class white America that I am, visiting a coffee shop has become something of an often occurrence. Whether this is an attempt to be perceived as cool or a legitimate desire to consume caffeinated beverages I am totally fine paying $5.00 for, the jury is still out. Turns out Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee per day, so it stands to reason that if you’re hankering for a delicious sampling of contemporary society, one of the twelve coffee shops in your neighborhood is the place to go.
By 9am, I guarantee you that it’ll be a localized petri dish of activity, a carefully choreographed song-and-dance of caffeine and capitalism. Here are a few of my favorite featured players:
This businessperson (occupation varies) that takes forever to order because they are carrying on a phone call while talking to the barista. “Hi, can I please get a – no, Mathews, we need 400 hundred shares of Tang, so that – grande, iced – we have to make sure that the prosecutor does not have a – mocha with – coronary artery bypass surgery at noon, so I will need – a single shot and – little Timmy’s stuck where?!” I am sure that your hedge fund needs pruning, but can you at least wait until you are done ordering your lethally caffeinated beverage to get on with your rat race of a life?
The Homicidal Caffeine Addict
At 9am, this individual looks like the unholy lovechild of death and despair. They never smile, their gaze remains fixed on an unknown horizon, and if you happen to make eye contact with this despondent creature, your soul will crack. When they speak, the language that emerges from their diaphragm can only be likened to that of a Dementor’s screech. When they finally receive their coffee, however, this world has never seen such unbridled joy. Beware.
The Not-So Starving Artist
This character is pretty intimidating. They always wear a scarf, no matter the temperature outside, because art makes their bones chill from all the cruel injustices that they perceive in the world. He/she is an aspiring something-or-other, well-equipped with their MacBook and ironclad skinny jeans. While waiting, they scan the Starbucks, observing the small sampling of everyday life, trying to garner inspiration for their next screenplay/art instillation/tweet…./blog post. They often order a venti coffee and take it black because, as an artist, they must suffer.
The Person Who Has No Idea what the Hell a “Macchiato” Is
I count myself amongst the legionaries of ill-informed Starbucks patrons. I try, but always in vain. While standing in line, we nervously scan the board and try to eavesdrop on other people’s orders so as to ascertain the proper coffeehouse vernacular. The guy ahead of you asks for “two-pumps” in his frappu-cappu-no-sugar-added-venti Frankenstein of a stitched together coffee monstrosity. PANIC. All hope is lost. It’s your turn to order; everything stops. Your throat goes dry and it becomes hard to swallow. Not to worry – you have prepared for this. You start to quietly hum the Rocky theme song as a single bead of sweat falls from your brow. You take a measured breath, step up to the register and say… “One hot chocolate, please.”
The Average Joe (coffee pun most definitely intended)
This customer just wants to get their coffee and leave, but unfortunately the previously mentioned folks typically keep them from doing so. And so, every day, these poor unfortunate souls wait in line and wistfully contemplate buying a Keurig.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a hot chocolate to pretend to enjoy.