Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Profiling at Starbucks

Yes, I frequent Starbucks.  No, I haven't found a little independent shop to support with my mighty dollar.  Besides, it's on my way...everywhere...  And I feel some amount of guilt about contributing to the corporate monster.  But Starbucks employees are so happy.  They seem to have the best job in the whole world when you walk in. So I continue to give my dollar to the corporate giant.  But this story isn't about that.  It is about how I am a freak. 

If you do not know me very well, you might have surmised from my stories that I am a bit of a control freak.  I leave very little to chance in my life.  I do not gamble.  I do not wait and see how things turn out in most cases...I make my own outcomes, so to speak.  So it is very surprising that a few years ago without really meaning to, I began to play a game of Starbucks roulette.  It all started one day when I was in a particularly indecisive mood. (Gasp!)  I was in line at my local Starbucks then suddenly they moved on and the very happy, perky person was asking me what she could make for me today.  I didn't know.  I absolutely had not had enough time to come to a decision.  So without thinking I said, "Whatever the person in front of me ordered is fine."

And so it started.  Most of the time, for the last 3 years, when I go to Starbucks I order what the person in front of me orders.  This has forced me, over the years, to try many, many drinks that I would never have tried.  I have had a lot of success and quite a few failures.  I discovered I can't stand soy milk.  NOT a fan of Chai!  Bleh!  And these people who order extra hot, holy cow!  They must have already burned off their taste buds in a nuclear accident, geez!  There are days, every now and again when I have a craving for something in particular, or when I walk in and there is no one in line.  Then I am on my own.  But most days there is a line.

This leads me to what I think can be classified as profiling.  As I get in line behind someone, I will size the person up and down, scrutinize them very carefully, if you will.  I will look at them to try to determine if they look lactose intolerant.  What kind of phone do they carry.  Are they a busy mom or pharmaceutical rep?  I am a Starbucks profiler.  If I determine that they look like a bad orderer, I will say to the person in line behind me, "You go ahead, I am having trouble deciding what I want."  Which, of course, is true.  Then I will try and size them up.  Do they look like they take care of themselves?  I really need to order non-fat today.  I hope this girl straight from exercise class isn't binging after spin but is still health conscience after yoga.

As you can see the thought process is quite extensive.  And if you will remember, this whole process started because I didn't want to THINK.  Ordering what the person in front of you ordered, took the thinking out of the equation.  It was easy, just walk in and say "ditto".  Now, look at me!  I am now over-thinking the person, scanning the crowd for a better orderer.  Oh, wait, look at her!  She looks like she knows how to order, no really you go ahead, I just need to take this call...I am just going to slip in here at the back of the line.  I just lost 6 minutes by ducking to the back of the line but I dodged the "soy bullet" big time...whew.  Okay, we are just about up, it's almost our turn, here she goes, wait for it, don't lean in too close, she will think you are weird...

And so the internal dialogue goes until I hear "I will have a grande, non-fat, triple splenda, extra foam, vanilla latte."

Jackpot!  I smile to myself.  And when it is my turn to belly up to the barista I say, "I'll have what she's having."

I love this game...


  1. to funny girl !!!! i am going to start standing in line behind you !!!

  2. This post literally made me laugh out loud! I can completely imagine that dialogue taking place inside your head. We are totally going to Starbucks next time we get together :)