Okay, okay. I get it. Victoria is the coffee capital of Canada. I’m not talking that Tim Hortons mess (hardly one to be found here). I’ve never seen so many hipster coffee joints in my life. I’m talking a full scale gourmet festival of snobby coffee culture.
At work, where the young and beautiful reign supreme, a few even grind their own beans—by hand, god love them. My office is very near one of the coolest spots in town, Sitka, and my Ubermensch/style icon/all around bad ass of a boss doesn’t have to speak a word when he walks in. They know what he wants before he does.
Then there’s Habit, which I secretly call Heroin.
There’s even a string of shops called Serious Coffee because Frivolous Coffee wouldn’t fly in a place where a cup of joe is not just sipped—it’s worshipped. But here’s the thing: I hate coffee. The taste, the smell, ergo, I don’t buy it. Ergo again, I don’t have a clue how to place an order from a beverage menu complicated enough to bewilder a rocket scientist.
All right, sufficient set-up. The other day, two lovely co-workers were working like demons, on a deadline, without stopping for food. I volunteered to do a grub run and like good Victorians they wanted coffee. From Starbucks. I thought no problem. I used to save lives for a living, I got this. Right.
I walked in all easy breezy, but when it was my turn, I panicked. Maybe it was the acrid fumes or maybe it was the sea of maniacs hepped up on caffeine. Either way, I asked for a tall coffee and from there it went decidedly downhill. I didn’t know what kind of coffee. I mean who cares? Well, the 12-year-old behind the counter did.
Her: “Oh maa gaa. How can you not like know how to order coffee?” (imagine a Valley girl on speed dialect). Me: “Well, I don’t care for it.” Her: “Oh. Maa. GAAAAA. That is so like totally weird.” Me: “Perhaps, but we’re moving forward.” So, she comes back with a small cup of black liquid and I told her no, I needed a tall. And, after a ten minute speech comprised entirely of OMGs and upward inflections, I learned that a tall is a small. Obviously.
Now my colleague had also asked for cream. But apparently that’s just too much to ask of a Starbucks server, sorry, barista (don’t get me started). I was told I had to do that myself. I turned around to see where she was pointing as her eyes rolled up far enough to get a good view of her brain.
It was at that moment I addressed the woman behind me. The whole time I was being inducted into the cult, she had been foot tapping and sighing loudly. By now, there was red smoke jetting out from both her ears and she was gearing up to punch me in the face. Word to the wise: saying “Madam, you need to calm yourself,” doesn’t work as well at Starbucks as it does in a psychiatric hospital.
So I drifted over to a counter where there were lots of little sticks and shakers filled with brown dust and steel thermos things. I found the one marked cream and tipped it. Empty. Like anyone would have, I just held it up, waved it in the air, and yelled across the shop, “I need more cream here.” Another word to the wise: don’t do this, people will think you’re an idiot. The barista was not impressed as evidenced by her grimace and scolding tone. I was directed to urgently return to the command centre for cream. Unfortunately, I reached across just in time to disrupt the smoke ear lady’s transaction and she literally hissed at me. Sweet Jaysus, tough room.
Then the goddamn cream wouldn’t open. I had to go back again and get the Valley girl to open it. Then the small lids were too small, the large too large, until I realized they had to be coaxed on to the cup. Finally, after what seemed like several hours, the herculean task of getting a coffee was finished.
I tell you, I was all in, a complete victim. I think they should serve booze to help smooth out the stress of buying the coffee. I don’t know how people do it day in day out or how coffee shops become ‘their place’. It’s a jungle in there. Those baristas can stick it and I’ll stick to what I know. “Bartender, I’ll have a Ketel One vodka rocks with a twist.” I wanna be where everybody knows my name.