A Tall Tale

 I had a battle today with a barista at Starbucks.

This was not the Starbucks I usually go to in the center of my town. Yes, there is a Starbucks in the center of my town; as George Carlin once said, “There’s a Starbucks in my pants.”  However, today's Starbucks was a different one, next door to a movie theatre.

I had just watched a movie, a highly-touted comedy filled with fine actors playing characters in Loveably Quirky roles. After, I hit the Starbucks for some caffeine to wake me up.

I ordered a Tall (which is, I understand, Italian for “small”) cappuccino.

The woman behind the counter was young, attractive, efficient and, as they say in Italian, Tall. She made me a Tall cappuccino in a paper cup.

She reached for a plastic lid.

"That's okay," I said. "I don't need a lid."

“You have to have a lid,” she said. “It’s company policy.”

“Okay,” I said, “then give it to me separately, rather than putting it on.”

She narrowed her eyes at me. “I have to put it on. It’s company policy.”

“The Starbucks in the center of my town makes my cappuccino in a pottery cup,” I said. “They don’t even make lids for pottery cups. I’m sure you can just give it to me without the lid.”

“I can’t give it to you until I put a lid on it.”

“I’m only going to take it off again to put cinnamon on top. Why bother to make me take it off?”

She clutched the drink tight, a hostage.  “It’s company policy. I have to put a lid on it.”

“I understand—you’re worried about my scalding myself. Thank you. But isn’t there more chance of me spilling the coffee when I take off the lid than there is when you hand it to me? The lid locks onto the rim. It’s not that easy to take it off.”

Her face hardened and she grew menacingly Grande. She told me, in a tone reserved for small children who suffer from a devastating mental handicap, “I. Have. To. Put. The. Lid. On. Or. I. Can’t. Give. You. The. Coffee.”

She applied the plastic lid with a snap. It was the sound of triumph.

She handed it to me. I took one step to the condiment table, pried off the lid, and shook cinnamon on top of the foam. I threw out the lid.

I admired the drink. She had given it just the right proportion of foam to coffee, not always the case in Starbucks. Not even in the Starbucks in the center of my town.

I took a sip. Delicious. “It’s perfect,” I told the young woman. “Thank you.”

She didn’t seem to hear me.

In fact, she abruptly, precisely, turned her back on me.

Ah, god. I felt so…Tall