Starbucks, or rather, the patrons that use Starbucks drive me crazy. Earlier this week, I popped into Chapters bookstore which has a Starbucks inside. I had no intention of getting anything from Starbucks, mainly because I’ve had their hot chocolate a couple of times before and don’t find it overly good. That being said, I will buy it if the mood strikes me and I’m too lazy to drive to a Second Cup location to buy theirs. (by the way, I do consider myself a hot chocolate aficionado) As for Starbucks, I also find them disgustingly overpriced for a product that is just “okay”. I often wonder if they should change the name from Starbucks to FiveBucks because no matter what you buy, you aren’t getting out of there for less than five bucks. But I digress.

A couple of dedicated authors working on their next best seller. hahaha

After wandering the bookshelves in Chapters I got the hankering for an uber fattening hot chocolate treat. As I approach the Starbucks section of the store, it is as if people stop their private conversations and watch me approaching, some of them with looks of disapproval. The many “once-overs” from the women sitting in groups of two or three, the glances over their designer eyeglasses from a few of the metro-sexual men sitting reading their Wall Street Journals, the mid-sip-pause from the snooty table of two 20-somethings, and my favorite the full-typing-stop from the bozos who bring their laptops to Starbucks to sit and write their next New York Times bestselling novel or their next Hollywood screenplay blockbuster. Do they think the other patrons wonder if they are sitting amongst the next John Grisham or J.K. Rowling? “Oh wowwww… look… those guys are writing what appears to be a book… I wonder what chapter they are on… they are obviously big time writers on a time crunch to meet their publisher’s next deadline and they’re creatively inspired sitting here amongst the every day people.”  Gimme a break. Meanwhile, they are probably parked on a random page of Wikipedia and their Facebook is minimized until you pass by. Regardless of why they bring their laptops, here I was being stared at like I was a lone zebra along the river bank surrounded by crocodiles… obviously a very poorly dressed zebra in my non-designer clothes and driving my domestic car at that.

The whole staring scenario instantly reminded me of a trip to South Beach, Miami, a number of years back. It was New Year’s Eve and the various South Beach hotels where just party-central. Me and my friends finally got in, that is, after one of the guys we were with had given the oversized, bulldog-looking doorman something like $600 just to gain admittance. As we walked alongside the infinity pool, my cool sort of yes-I-belong-here demeanor had been scratched for a “holyyyyyy cowwwwwww” open-mouthed gaze once I realized how much money was “walking” around in there… I must’ve had the same facial expression of an Amish farmer visiting Manhattan for the first time. I felt like it was obvious I didn’t belong there with the likes of such high society. As we passed one of the pool-side cabanas, one of the guys inside looked at us and said, “Uhhhh… time to go back to your highway motel, isn’t it?”  Niiiiice. I hope that someone spilled a drink on his couture dress shirt during the night, or had some potential hook up slap him across the face, or the Fat Albert looking, oversized doorman threw him into the pool before midnight. Not that it mattered, I had a great time that night anyway.

And so here I was in Starbucks and feeling the same way. I approach the counter and the slim guy with no smile and a bad attitude asks me what I want. I look up at the menu, then at him and say quietly, “A medium hot chocolate please. Oh, I mean a Grand hot chocolate, please.” Then I chuckled and said, “Not hard to tell I don’t come here often, huh?” He didn’t crack a smile, rather he looked incredibly insulted. He enters my order on his little register and corrects me by saying , “So one Grahhhn-dayyyyy hot chocolate? Is that all?” I think I blushed at my own stupidity at this point. How “uneducated” of me to mispronounce the size of the drink I wanted. Faux pas or what? I imagined the gasps from the people sitting at their tiny tables when I didn’t even pass the ordering test.

I proceed to the end of the counter to await my mediocre tasting beverage that I just paid nearly five bucks for, got insulted by the male barista, and got odd looking stares from the other customers. If I wanted to be treated like this and pay for it, I’d sit in the front row of Yuk-Yuks on amateur night. But anyway…

A tall, espresso with half this-quarter this-quarter that, double shot, whip of this.

As I said, I humbly wait for my order but watch as other high-feeling show offs confidently place their orders. This woman steps up and says her order so fast that it sounded like she was one of those professional speed-talkers at an auction at Christy’s. The male jerk behind the counter rhymes it off back to her, “So that’s a venti half-skinny half-1 % extra hot split quad shot latte with vanilla cinnamon cayenne and whip?” I rolled my eyes as she hauled out her (undoubtedly a knock-off) Louis Vuitton wallet and adjusted her equally fake Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses. She nodded and continued her overly loud conversation with her (who I assume) international business partner on their third quarter earnings and humongous earning projections for 2012. That was followed by the next customer who also spoke in a loud voice so everyone could hear her conundrum of having to get a silver BMW for her daughter because her daughter didn’t like the black one she had. Oh the injustice in this world. It seems like Starbucks attracts people who feel it’s a status symbol to buy the Starbucks brand of coffee and who want to flaunt their finances so everyone can hear.

 Can someone please tell me how did a coffee shop become high society??? They sell coffee, tea, hot chocolate and what looks like 10 day old baked goods for crying out loud. (The lemon pound cake and muffins looked like they were for “display” only… like the bakeries I saw in Germany and Italy that had replicas of their delicacies in their window made from either styrofoam or plastic so they wouldn’t spoil or need to be replaced.) The “goodies” from this Starbucks looked the same. The lemon loaf looked like a little rectangle of particle board with white, cracked paint for icing. But I digress…

One of the female baristas puts my cup on the counter and announces it as “One grahhhhn-day hot chocolate.” I get looks from the customers who were behind me as if this were a fancy restaurant and while they ordered the escargot and filet mignon I just ordered a glass of tap water.  My hot chocolate is suddenly ordinary and boring … apparently not even fancy enough to be sold at such a place… like this was the drink that homeless people, or people without luxury cars or designer clothes would buy. You aren’t anyone in this world until you order a European sounding beverage with four kinds of milk, half this – half that, several pumps of flavour shots and spiced with items only found in indo-asian markets that are hand-ground with tiny mortar and pestles by direct descendants of Ghandi himself.

I think Starbucks and the snooty people who go there need to seriously get over themselves. It’s a coffee shop, not an Aston Martin dealership. Not to mention, Starbucks are located in every po-dunk town, strip mall and airport around the world — not just solely on Rodeo Drive or at the Louvre in Paris.

Now this is heaven...

I think I’ll stick to my incredibly delicious, not-quite-so-expensive, large hot chocolate at Second Cup and only go to Starbucks when I want to feel like an outsider… a sort of nobody who just enjoys a good ole hot chocolate.  ;o)