A couple mornings ago, my sheepishly apologetic father, who needed a ride to the mechanic and then to work, came into my room to wake me. I grudgingly rolled out of bed, slipped on a headband and a pair of flip-flops, brushed my teeth and graciously did my daughterly duty. I guess it wasn’t all bad because he felt so guilty, he offered to treat me to Starbucks, and since it wasn’t on my dollar, I sprung for a Mocha instead of my recent usual regular coffee or tea.
As I drove home, sipping from my recycled paper cup, I noticed the barista had written an odd spelling of my name at the top of the cup—“Kaity,” and I was reminded of the very first time a Starbucks barista had asked me my name for drink distributing purposes. I was an insecure, pimply high school sophomore and the prospect of ordering a drink from a hip and attractive barista made my palms sweat. I had only been to Starbucks a few times before, and was still unfamiliar with the various drinks and customs of the place.
My friend’s mom was taking us to Starbucks after school. My friend and I entered the coffee shop, the backs of our orthopedic, Velcro Mary Janes flapping on the ground as we walked. We were tired from a long day at school and we were both a disheveled mess—ponytails askew, oxford shirts untucked, knee socks drooping, shoes only half on. We were ready for a sweet, caffeinated treat. When we got inside and saw the brown eyed, shaggy haired and freckled hipster dreamboat working behind the counter, we both bemoaned the fact that we were not more put together and fit for such an encounter. Even though we both already knew what we wanted, we stood intently studying the menu boards for a good minute or two, and I finally ordered a “grandemochalitefrappucinowithextraqwhipcream.” The smiling barista then caught me off guard when he asked me my name, with a plastic cup in his hand and his sharpie poised. I blushed (I’ve never really been sure if I actually blush or not, but let’s just say my neck got very warm,) and I tried to keep my face from spreading into a goofy grin. I bashfully told him my name, and then he asked how I spell it. The cute barista wanted to know my name! Maybe he’d want my number too… Should I ask his name? Was this an attempt to start a conversation…? This was kind of exciting—I felt singled out and interesting. However, the idea of actually conversing with this attractive stranger was just too terrifying, and so I meekly shifted to the side and waited for my drink.
I then received a bit of a shock when my friend stepped up to the counter and ordered her drink, only to have the barista ask her name. This happened with the other two customers in line as well. I suddenly did not feel quite so special or singled out. Actually, I felt slightly mortified. Furthermore, as I began to frequent Starbucks more often, I realized that asking customers their names to then write on their respective cups is a common Starbucks practice. Something to make the whole Starbucks experience a little more personal, I guess. Well, it worked on me. And I have to admit that even now when I go to Starbucks and tell the barista my name when he or she takes my order, for a few minutes, I feel downright awesome.