Monday, October 01, 2007

A Real Conversation

. . . on Friday went like this:

Me: Hi, what can we get for you today?

Customer-lady: Um, do you guys make the pumpkin spice latte in a venti?

[I imagine most self-acknowledged readers of this site are at least nominally familiar with Starbucks size-names, but I guess even if you're not, you can understand why I would be puzzled as to someone's asking if we make the drink in a certain size. I would think most drinks could be made in any size you wanted, except for shots of espresso.]

Me: Uh . . . yes.

Customer-lady (pausing): Okay. Can I get a tall pumpkin spice latte?

Me (even more puzzled): Sure . . . but . . . did you want a venti or a tall?

Customer-lady (pausing again): Oh. Yeah, I see what you're saying. (Another pause.) Can I get a tall pumpkin spice latte?

I have no idea what the point of that conversation was. Maybe someone out there can interpret it for me . . .


Barry Pike said...

It's a cry for help, that's all. We don't know what we want half the time and it can be overwhelming when it's your turn at the counter. We can't always remember THE RULES. But we are fragile and we've been hurt so many times before. Please, just usher us gently into the inner courts and try not to judge us harshly.


Also...on a related note, I like you and your blog so much that I have chosen NOT to blog at my own blog about a recent negative experience at a Starbucks in Texas. My first EVER. It's a management thing, though...the customer service and product was as good as always. But nevertheless, I won't blog about it.

Jenn said...

Wow, Barry--I'm flattered. And, naturally, curious. That's not fair!

dave grosser said...

Agree with Barry about the cry for help. Here's my interpretation. She wasn't sure sure how a certain type of drink is made, but she sees one on the sign that sounds good--so she thinks, "I like this flavor. But is it one of those tiny drinks that comes in a tiny cup? I don't know! So I'll ask if I can get a big one and hopefully won't feel so stupid. The waitress lady says, "yes", like it's kind of obvious, but I only feel a little stupid. I was right, they make it like that, right? Wait, now the waitress lady is asking me what size I wanted, even though I asked about a Venti. So maybe she's hinting that even though it's possible to get a venti, it's not correct for some reason, so I'll pretend I know what she's talking about and order the other choice."

Jenn said...

Dave--yeah, that makes sense. I'm pretty sure I didn't come across in an "of course we make them in venti, you moron," though. I think I just answered the question. And then I didn't ask for the size specification until she asked for a tall after asking ABOUT a venti. But yeah. Probably something like that.

Barry Pike said...

For what it's worth, for me, 9 times out of 10 I order a venti Americano, straight up, no room. Hardcore, but simple, if a little labor intensive to prepare.

That one odd time is when I'm feeling a chocolate deficiency and I have to have a mocha.

One thing that I always do, however, which makes no sense, is that before ordering my Americano, I have to look at and read through all of the other possibilities and weigh their possible merits, just as if I were actually considering a departure from my default value. Sometimes I even ask about how one of those other drinks is made. And then I order my Americano and move on.

Craver Vii said...

There are really two kinds of bad customers, aren't there? There are the meanies and there are the clueless. I will NEVER be a meanie; it's just not right. But clueless? I'm afraid I have caused people to wonder whether I am capable of even tying my own shoes at times.

That's why the number system is sheer genius! You go to McDonalds, and say, "number six, please." Notice, I did not need to begin by saying, "Ummmmmmmmm..." If you put a special on the Starbucks board with a number next to it, would that help?

But about Starbucks, every time I order a "tall," it comes out with a snicker. The size thing cracks me up. Unfortunately, I hardly ever have to make such a choice. I'm generally a doppio macchiato kind of guy.

Jenn said...

Barry--I don't think it's really that odd to re-peruse the menu board even if you already know what you're getting. Just keep in mind where you're standing. In our store, our menu boards are suspended directly above our registers, and people tend to come right up to the registers and then flop their heads back and crane at the words above them, so that their mouths hang open and we at the registers can look straight up their noses. Not really the most pleasant of sights to behold . . . and WE didn't design the store, so it's not our fault the signs are right there!

Craver--there is a story behind the names for Starbucks cup sizes, you know. It's not completely arbitrary and pretentious. (Well, unless the story is false, which it may well be.)

dave grosser said...

Yeah, I wasn't saying that your tone or demeanor communicated condescension or correction, I was just saying insecure people project things.

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