Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Italian Soda Crowd

I cautiously stepped inside of the hair salon attached to the grocery store. I had a free haircut coupon I received in the mail.

Anyway, I am sitting there being a little nervous about going to this place for a haircut. I just hoped they wouldn’t butcher me. I didn’t mention the coupon until after they cut my hair. If I mention it earlier they might zoom through the cut so I get an unbalanced, semi-mullet head of hair.

A 20-something blond snapped, “You ready?”


We go through the formalities of the haircut and she gets cutting.

Feeling a need to create some small talk she dangles a question out there. “No school today? No work today?”


“And you probably just left the house, right?”


She rolls her eyes at my response and scoffs. “I just had my first weekend off in six or seven months last weekend and I was up at 6 am.”

“That sucks.”

“Yes, well, my girlfriend was getting married and I was helping out. I wasn’t even in the wedding and I was up before all of them.”

“That sucks you guys are open on the weekends.”

“Yeah, well, have you ever gotten your haircut on the weekend?”


“We are open because of people like you.”

I thought of maybe telling her I went mostly on the weekdays, but I was pretty weirded-out by the aggression she harbored toward me for admitting that I might have gone to get my haircut on the weekend.

She complained some more about the hours and being open until 9 on weeknights.

“Do that many people come in after 7 for haircuts?”

She nods. “And most of them come in right before we close.”

“Oh. Don’t you love that? I work at Starbucks, so I have to deal with that a lot.”

“No offense, but that place is way too expensive. I mean, it’s just coffee, and I don’t even want coffee. I just want an Italian soda. Do you work at this one right over here?”

By right over here she meant across a big parking lot and across the street.

“Yes, I do.”

“I hate that store. They are dumb over there. I get Italian sodas at Starbucks all over, and when I try to order one there they say they don’t have them. They want you to buy one of the Pellegrino waters and then they say they can mix it up for you. It always tastes like crap. I just want an Italian soda.”

This is a famous complaint about Starbucks and I was at a loss once again to explain the simple facts that many customers don’t seem to understand about the Italian soda. It isn’t on the menu. It’s like ordering a Double-Double at McDonald’s. Sure, the Double-Double is a burger, but it’s not a McDonald’s burger, it’s an In-N-Out burger, so McDonald’s cannot make it. Starbucks does offer to make an Italian soda if you buy the Pellegrino. This option seems to satisfy most customers who come to the store bent on getting there Italian sodas. I don’t understand why people, who hate coffee, are annoyed by Starbucks’ prices, and want something that isn’t on the Starbucks menu keep coming to Starbucks. They don’t seem to realize that there are many other options. There are plenty of chains of coffee stores and local stores that still thrive in the coffee business. My guess is that they might even thrive because they offer real Italian sodas.

I could have said all this to the woman cutting my hair. She wouldn’t have had it. This lady didn’t like Starbucks. She didn’t like a lot of things, and as I would find out, she didn’t like pretentious sounding job titles.

“Well, the Italian soda isn’t actually on the menu.”

“Yes, it is.”

“No. I promise you, it is not on our menus.”

“Yes, it is. I order it all the time from the Starbucks in Barnes and Noble.”

“Well, that actually isn’t a real Starbucks. They have different menus there.”

“They have Italian sodas on the menu at this other Starbucks I go to.”

“Well, you must be mistaken because if it’s a real store it won’t be on the menu.”

She seemed to give up a bit on the Italian soda spiel. “So, what do you do at Starbucks?”

I thought this through for a minute. Was this a trick question? I mean, what do you do at Starbucks? Well, I take orders, take money, and make drinks. It’s like asking a gaggle of lifeguards what they do.

“I’m a Barista.” I decided to just give her my job title.

“You’re a what?”

This is not the only time I have stumped someone with Barista. I don’t know what it is, a complete aversion to words that don’t sound like part of the English dictionary.

“I’m a Barista.” I annunciated clearer this time.

“Oh. So, you make coffee.”


Our conversation drifted from Starbucks to me having an English degree to her asking me for career advice on what she should do next because she said, “I can talk, and talk, and talk.”

If she was doing something other than cutting my hair I would probably have given her a much bigger, more cynical and dry part of my mind, but I tried to be as cheery as possible because she was cutting my hair, and the mirror wasn’t lying. She was doing a fine job.

She finished up. I busted out the coupon thinking take that, like I just threw a knockout punch. I tipped. I walked out the door and thought to myself I could write a whole book full of encounters like that. Of course I would have to be meticulous in my recalling of them. The writing would have to be better. It could work though. I would name it: I Think You Are Weird.


Jarrod Renaud said...

Freakin comedy. I love it. This blog made me laugh a couple of times. Universal truths all over this thing.

Rachel said...

I would be in a book like that. The title would be called, "That Girl".

Anonymous said...

Starbucks does have Italian sodas, in some locations. Even on the menu, and in standalone stores not connected to a bookstore or a mall. I used to go to the starbucks in Marrero, LA and all I ever used to get was italian sodas, specifically because they were the cheapest thing on the menu and the only thing I felt was worth the price.

Anonymous said...

Corporate Owned Starbucks do not carry the Italian Sodas. Only some Lisensed stores carry them, but most do not. Like she mentioned above, buy the peligrino. -Starbucks Employee of 10years.