THE LANGUAGE OF STARBUCKS

Languages have never been my strong suit, but there is one that I simply cannot understand no matter how many times I try. You probably guessed it. It, of course, is the Starbucks language of coffee. I’m not sure what class, or after school club, I missed in my education to pick up on this. How do people learn the little intricacies of their favorite orders? It’s not on the menu, believe me, I keep checking. It’s not on the website. It’s not on their commercials. It’s not on Google. If you don’t speak coffee, you better befriend a nice human who will teach you because otherwise you’ll be stuck standing at the front of the line looking like a deer in the headlights with angry, caffeine-deprived customers screaming at your back.

It’s a straight up clique. An original form of social distancing for those who haven’t proven their worth by passing the challenge of ordering a drink from the menu and then proceeding to change everything about it. Personally, I find the drive-through lines comical because that is way slower than waiting in the store line. You have to try and explain your custom creation through the highly efficient outdoor microphone. You know, the ones that pick up about a third of what you say. Then you get to play the ever fun phone tag, or microphone tag in this case, of you placing an order, the employee repeating it, you correcting it (because heaven forbid you get two pumps of caramel when you specified twenty), the employee repeating it again, you correcting it … again (because you asked for pumpkin spice not light ice), the employee getting a bit frustrated on round 3, you getting irritated over having to continue to repeat your daily order (how do they not have this memorized by now, all the money you’ve spent there?!), etc.

Rant over, I apologize for all the die-hard Starbucks fans in the world. What do you call yourselves? Starbucksers? Star-Warriors? Starbuck Chucks? Straight up Stars? SBean? Estarbucksso? Now that is a winner! I should trademark it, you are all welcome. Don’t say I never did anything nice for you. Judge you? Yes. Mock you? Definitely. Blog about you? Certainly. But alas, I have given your band of minions a catchphrase.

I understand the concept of customization in food. If you’re paying for it, it better be everything you hoped for and more. What’s the best way to do that? Make it your own! Most places have found a balance – a diverse menu that lets you make slight adjustments based on dining preferences. Burgers without ketchup, extra cheese on the nachos, double the oreos in the milkshake, re-heating the fries so they’re toasty by the time you get to them, combination of half lemonade and half tea, etc. Minor adjustments that don’t impact the overall cooking process. It is but a blip on the cook’s radar.

Starbucks has adopted the opposite mentality it seems. Create a menu, train employees how to make the small amount of available drinks, then allow customers to run wild with suggestions. Completely ignoring what people at corporate have deemed current feasible options. How this is a sustainable business model stymies me … oh, wait, it’s because they cater to both the 1% and the 99% all at once. In other words, the rarely seen 100%. Price: 1% model, hands down. Coffee drinkers: well there’s the 99-ers. It’s fascinating. Why even bother creating a menu? Why spend money and time and energy and sanity constructing beverages that people will look at and go, it’s fine and all, but completely change the recipe and I’ll drink it? 

You order a chocolate chip frappuccino, sans chocolate chips, without milk, zero sugar, and instead of espresso a black coffee pour over. Pretty close. You order a vanilla latte, but skinny edition sans flavor, additives, anything besides water, and low-fat whipped cream. You order a caramel macchiato, but with ten pumps of chocolate, just a quarter pump of caramel, milk steamed at exactly 152.5 degrees for slight froth, but not too much, and a whipped cream. I don’t even know what I’m saying but these are all things I’ve heard while waiting in line for my cake pop. Honestly, I don’t care – estarbuckssos, you do you. What I do care about, is having my order become unnecessarily complicated because the employees forget normal words like water. I have to order liquid, pulled from the coldest, purest creeks in Chile with ice, hand carved by farmers in the Swiss Alps. And, of course, a perfectly moist, aerated, sugar dough covered with the finest colors at the end of the Lucky Charms rainbow and topped with tiny globes of crunch.

Alright, jumping off my pedestal for now. If you know someone who would enjoy this post and want to share it with them, that would be awesome. Sharing is caring, after all. Don’t forget to subscribe to get these in your inbox twice weekly and follow TRP on Twitter for frequent musings. Thanks for reading!


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CINCO DE DRINKO: ANOTHER UNOFFICIAL HOLIDAY FOR DAYTIME DRINKING

The start of May is always a pretty great time of year. January resolutions are long gone so we can all stop trying to fake like we’re changing our lives and giving up sweets. February was but a blip of time that we forgot before it was even over. March Madness kept our stress levels high and our trash talking game on point. Well … in a normal year anyways. This past March was a bunch of pre-Spring weather and learning new words and terms like social distancing, coronavirus, cancelled, closed indefinitely, stay at home, restricted travel, free government money with no strings attached, etc. Then of course April came with its showers so now we have May flowers. Whoop whoop!

May comes in like a tank with the festivities. First, you bring out your inner wookie and deadly lightsaber skills with Star Wars day. Most people love May the Fourth because it’s simply just fun to say. May the Fourth be with you. With you, May the Fourth be – for all of you who, like me, find Yoda to be their Star Wars spirit animal. Baby Yoda by the way, can we just pause for a second and revel in what a gift to television sets everywhere that character is. Just when I thought I couldn’t love Yoda anymore I got him in child form! Kind of like in Finding Dory where Pixar gave us Baby Dory – oh my goodness her little eyes! Same with Baby Yoda. Maybe they just take away age lines and increase eye size to be 50-75% of the face? Whatever the science behind the youngerization of characters, I am here for it! And, to be honest, there are several characters that could use the baby makeover. A few that come to mind immediately:

  • Chewbacca (from Star Wars)
  • Cruella de Vil (from 101 Dalmations)
  • Mickey Mouse (from everything Disney)
  • Buzz Lightyear (from Toy Story)
  • Beast (from Beauty & The Beast)
  • Baloo (from The Jungle Book)
  • Roz (from Monsters Inc.)
  • Bruce (from Finding Nemo)

Before I spend the rest of this post throwing ideas into the universe for baby everything, let us move on. In the hangover from Star Wars day, we get America’s third unofficial daytime drinking holiday of the year (fourth if you’re single) – Cinco de Mayo! Cinco de Drinko if you’re a cool kid like my friends and I. Or if you only speak Spanglish because commiting to an entire language was part of a resolution that is but a fleeting thought from the B.C. era. Before Coronavirus that is. Now you have more important things to do like figure out how to spend endless hours at home with the same human beings, and/or animals day after day after day after day. 

For all the nonsense 2020 has thrown our way, it at least gave us Cinco de Drinko on Taco Tuesday so maybe not all hope is lost. Endless tacos and tequila! But for your takeout pleasure so think about how much you normally consume and triple it, just to be safe. Then you don’t have to figure out how to successfully order another round from a delivery driver while attempting not to fall off the couch. According to Urban Dictionary, Corona is the (un)official beer of this very young adult / quarter life crisis holiday. I am willing to wager that is not going to be the case for this year, but alas I have been wrong once or twice before.

To recap, or in case you genuinely don’t know what the other drinking holidays are, you start the year strong with New Year’s. Because why not ruin the first day of a new year with a killer hangover? If you happen to not like your date, or are self-partnered, you probably cruised into Valentine’s Day with something stronger than grape juice in that glass. Of course, the greenest day of the year pops up after love has ended since you might as well save the planet while you’re infatuated, or in need of a new project. Not that kind of green though – did you really think of Earth Day as a drinking holiday?! I question your judgement. Water, sure. Alcohol, probably not so much. It’s St. Patrick’s Day of course! So now you’re 25% through your year and 75% of it is a bit hazy. April is your chance to recover before May blasts onto the scene leading into vacation season, pumpkin season, and of course, holiday season.

What the heck else does May have, though? You may be wondering. Oh, you know, it’s also casually Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, National Moscato Day, National Dance like a Chicken Day, National Wine Day, graduation season, and it’s also prime wedding season (probably because of the flowers that the showers brought us). I think the question you should be asking is what the heck else DOESN’T May have?

Alright, jumping off my pedestal for now. If you know someone who would enjoy this and want to share it with them, that would seriously mean a lot to me. I’m so grateful to all the current readers and subscribers. If you want to get these in your inbox twice weekly don’t forget to subscribe. Thanks for reading!


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KISS ME, I’M IRISH…BUT ACTUALLY

Erin go Bragh! Sláinte! That would be Ireland forever and cheers to all you non-native Irish speakers. Ireland speaks English, technically, but in a very Irish way and I mean that with all the love in the world. Kind of how Southerners have created their own language, bless their hearts. So raise a pint because it’s St. Patrick’s Day – the best adult holiday on the planet! I’m not sure if minors celebrate this day or not. What would you do? Permanently dye your mouth green with all the “naturally” flavored treats in the shape of a shamrock? Go around pinching people for not wearing green? Sounds like a good time.

Thankfully, I am a legal adult in every single country on this beautiful planet. At one point in my life, I was not, but several (legal) St. Patrick’s day celebrations have caused me to forget my entire youth. Well, not the entire thing. Just the boring parts like thinking I was cool for pinching other people. If I was really trying to punish them, a backhand would have worked better. Because it should be a crime not to wear green today. It’s the one requirement all year. Wear green on St. Patrick’s Day. If you do nothing else, you must wear green. Unless you’re a Mean Girl, in which case, on Wednesdays you wear pink.

A true historian would roll over in their grave, though, because blue was the original color of this celebration. It became green when people started associating it with Ireland and all it’s rolling green hills, jolly green giants, Lucky Charms, green beans…wait. No, it’s the shamrock. That’s Ireland’s official emblem. How lucky. No wonder the Earth blessed them and banished all the snakes from the island.

St. Patrick’s Day is an interesting holiday, because everyone associates it with Ireland, but St. Patrick wasn’t even Irish. He merely moved there for a job as one does. Also, until as recently as the 1970’s, pubs in Ireland were closed. If the pubs were closed, how did this become a giant keg stand throughout the world? What did people used to do it not drink? These are all good questions. I don’t want to try and assume what the people did, since you know what they say when you assume. If I wanted to go on an imagination journey though, down the rainbow to the pot of gold, I would say they ate. That’s what I would do if I couldn’t drink. Correction, that is what I do when I can’t drink.

Interestingly enough, Boston held the first American celebration in 1737. Now there is not documentation, that I could find anyways, indicating whether or not there were large quantities of alcohol present at this celebration. Having visited Brewston, though, I would like to say yes there certainly way…but only if I was journeying through the marshmallow forest with Lucky himself because we don’t assume. Despite Boston being first, Chicago does it best. If you thought that McDonald’s dying their McFlurrys and Shakes green was clever, Chi-Town decided to dye AN ENTIRE RIVER. Let me emphasize this. The Windy City turns a river (normally blue-ish) and makes it green. What?! I’m no color expert, but I’m pretty sure you have to mix yellow with blue to get green. What is in this dye? Is it…is it from a human? No wonder you’re not supposed to swim in the river.

In true American fashion, we spend over $6 billion celebrating. That’s billion, with a b. Is it all on booze? No! The themed cakes, cookies, ice cream, candy, etc. and of course the traditional corned beef and cabbage probably all account for about 1% of that total. Bars everywhere will feature themed green drinks, but if you want to truly celebrate, you have to go with the staple. The most Irish of all beers. A bold selection brew. A Guinness. According to USA Today, 13 million (just with an m) pints of this bold-bodied brand will be sold around the world. Of all times to go with the status quo, it is most certainly March 17. So break out your green, find your ID, and head to a local bar. With or without friends. Nobody will judge you after about an hour. Or if you buy them a beer – whichever comes first.

Alright, jumping off my pedestal for now. If you know someone who lives for St. Paddy’s day, then figure out why that person isn’t you and get excited! It’s a national holiday that office businesses just aren’t quite recognizing yet. Cheers, thanks for reading!


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I WINE, YOU WINE, WE ALL WINE FOR A REFILL

I’m not a scientist, but I’m pretty sure that wine is what fuels the Earth’s core and keeps us happily rotating around a bright, hot ball people call the Sun. After all, sunlight helps plants grow, such as a vine. Which, last time I checked, looks a lot like a plant. It has a brown stick looking thing and some green leaves. Green leaves that also happen to produce juicy, delicious little orbs in multiple colors. If you carefully handle the vine, retrieve the orbs of goodness, gently place them in a barrel, then smash them all up it gives us the syrup of the sun: wine. Seems to me like a perfect lifecycle. In summary: wine makes the Earth go around the Sun, who in return for our never-ending presence, abundantly continues to produce the ingredients. Science.

The Sun is surprisingly human in this theory. It doesn’t want to be alone. Relatable? Yes. If you thought no, might I recommend making some friends? Nobody wants to be alone. So like a typical human, the Sun buys happiness and friendship with grapes…for wine. In case you forgot what this post was about. Relatable? Meh, I personally am not rich enough to buy my entourage so strangely enough they just like me. The Sun is a big star though so we probably live totally separate lives. It has over a million Twitter followers. Wait, sorry, that’s a London newspaper. The REAL Sun account only casually has like 13.5K, but follows NOBODY. Not sure how the other planets feel about this…seems like we could be nearing a revolt. Where everyone breaks off to find a better leader. One who follows back. Like a real friend. Although we have established the Sun simply buys planets with alcohol so I guess it’s not super genuine.

Coming back in from the black hole I just fell into, wine! If you don’t like wine, first of all you’re a liar. More importantly, now is a good time to start, don’t let the experts scare you off. Second, I don’t trust you. If I can’t drink two entire bottles of wine with you (one for each of us because I have restraint obviously) then how can I tell you any of my secrets. You’ll remember all of them. Mmm, nope sorry that would be two bottles of something either clear or brown. 

With wine, everything just sounds less serious and adult-y. Plus, wine comes in fun, approachable, warm colors: red, pink, and white. The colors of love. I mean, what else do you want?! You can literally drink love. Feeling stressed? Drink some love and feel better. Going through a bad breakup? Get some love in you. Lost your job? Pour a little love on those tears. I’m calling BS on anyone who doesn’t want more love in their life. So, in other words, everyone is a wine drinker. Even if you’re a closeted wine drinker. When you’re ready to admit that to the world, we will welcome you with open arms and a bottle of wine. 

Now, I will be the first to admit that I am no wine connoisseur. I could not tell you how old it is, where it came from, what the flavor palette consists of, which foods go best with it, etc. Mostly because I don’t care. I have simple criteria:

  1. Is there alcohol in it?
  2. Do I like the way it tastes?
  3. Can I find it on the bottom few shelves at the grocery store?

Apparently there are five steps to drinking wine (five!) and only one actually involves the drinking portion (or, the important part). If you are a well-seasoned wine drinker, then you can skip over this section. For all the blooming grape leaves, here are the recommended steps to enjoying your glass:

  1. See
  2. Swirl
  3. Sniff
  4. Sip
  5. Savor

That seems like four unnecessary actions here. Can I taste the hint of oak in there? No, because, believe it or not, I don’t go around tasting different types of tree bark. Sorry, not sorry that I prefer human food. There’s actually a term for this: barkstripper. I have to be honest, that does NOT sound like an innocent animal that gets its nutritional needs from a tree trunk. If you’re curious, there are seven types of barkstrippers:

  • Tree squirrels – makes sense
  • Beavers – also makes sense
  • Black bears – now I’m lost, just eat the honey
  • Field mice – are they strong enough to strip the bark?
  • Mountain beavers – this is oddly specific
  • Porcupines – I didn’t really think of these are needing to eat, more of just predators, but maybe that’s what the spikes are made of
  • Rabbits – I thought they ate vegetables…

I’m so curious now about what exactly the barkstrippers gain from eating wood. Is it an essential vitamin or mineral? Surely it’s not fat, carbs, or protein? Do they prefer certain tree types over others? Are certain trees the “upscale” bark and do those come at a higher price? Just why? There seems to be a lot of other options available.

Alright, jumping off my pedestal for now. If you know a wine drinker, pass this along so they can appreciate all the wine love. If you know someone who doesn’t (publicly) drink wine, share this so they can stop being ashamed. Thanks for reading!


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DEAR UBER DRIVERS: LET’S JUST ASSUME I DON’T KNOW HOW TO GET THERE

Ride-sharing programs are wildly popular right now. For good reason though – it eliminates the need for you to drive somewhere. Whatever that reason is to you, worry no more! Some rando is about to come pick you up! Sounds disturbingly similar to the warnings I used to hear as a child about stranger danger, but good for the entrepreneurs who decided to capitalize on the tragedy of others, I suppose.

If you think too much about the concept of Uber, or Lyft, or a taxi (first of all, don’t because it gets weird) you’ll probably freak yourself out and choose to walk everywhere instead. Remember the warning about not taking candy from the person with the creeper van or the story about the “friendly” couple who lost their dog and wants you to help them find it? Same concept, except instead of getting candy, or to play with a cute puppy, you have to pay. Actual money. That you’ve worked (way) too hard to earn because companies today expect the world but opt not to pay for it. Feel me? Dream opportunity: work a minimum of 80 hours a week and we will pay you minimum wage so you never pay off your debt to the government and are forever obligated to continue working…forever. Goodbye fun, goodbye friends, goodbye happiness. Different topic – I digress.

So we’ve gotten past the potential for abduction with these programs and have opted to (*gasp*) pay for it. Kudos, though, to all those companies for taking the security of passengers and drivers seriously and continuously making adjustments so you can feel safe (not trying to get sued here because that sounds hella expensive). Now, there are multiple reasons why one would need / want to be chauffeured around:

  • You’re ultra rich and can’t be bothered with poor people things, like driving
  • You’re in a new city and don’t have a car (for whatever reason – didn’t want to rent, couldn’t afford to rent, not old enough to rent – no judgement)
  • You’re going out to drink and want to avoid a DUI (because adults make smart decisions)
  • You don’t own a car / don’t have a license (again, no judgement)
  • You want to feel ultra rich by getting a “personal driver”

Did I miss one? Hit me up so I can make sure this is relevant to ALL, even if your reason isn’t necessarily “common”. No matter your reason from above, one thing we can all agree on is that we aren’t paying someone so we can get ourselves there. So please, for goodness sake, do NOT ask me (your paying customer, need I remind you) for directions. Do I know how to get there? Erm, no. Personally, I ride-share when I travel or when I’m drunk – neither of which are ideal scenarios for me to give you (the money taking driver) the best route to get to my desired destination…that’s why there are apps like Google Maps, and Mapple (AKA Apple Maps), and Waze, and whoever I’m forgetting there to give you directions. Pro tip: you can customize those app settings to give you the fastest route, or avoid highways, or avoid traffic, blah, blah, blah. Point being, no I will not instruct you on how to get there. I need you to figure it out. Is it that you don’t trust what the GPS is telling you?! Because I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if I was feeling like giving you directions, that would be the one and only place I too would look. Are there actually people who can get places without the help of technology? Navigation unicorns.

Also, while we’re ranting, I should never step into a car and hear from the driver that they just took some shots before picking me up…samesies, which is why I called YOU. Obviously assuming that you would not have been doing what I was doing. If I wanted to risk being in a car with an intoxicated driver, I would have driven my own d*mn self and saved the ridiculous surge pricing. Which, can we talk about why surge pricing now seems to be the standard all day long? I’m sorry, did everyone all of a sudden decide that 10:30AM on a Tuesday was when they needed a ride?! I could buy a nice meal for two for less than this 5 mile trip.

Alright, jumping off my pedestal for now. If you’ve ever used a rideshare program than I’m sure you can relate. If not, don’t let this post scare you – they’re actually quite convenient…for a kidnapping so always let multiple people know exactly where you are, what car you’re in, where you’re going, what your driver looks like, etc. Safety first. Thanks for reading!


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