Several years ago, about 1997-1998, the only reliable place I could get a moderately decent cup of joe on the way into work was a Starbucks. (I said moderately decent! Not good! Not gourmet! Put down the torches and pitchforks already!)

This particular Starbucks in question is located across the street from John Wayne Airport, in Orange County, California, in a very busy business/research/industrial area. It is one of the only coffee shops in the immediate area, and is consequently extremely busy between around 7:30 and 10:00 AM.

A typical morning retail exchange for me, during this time, at this particular Starbucks:

"Welcome to Starbucks, how can I help you?"

"I'd like a large dark-roast, please."

"You mean a Venti?"

*grumble*. Now, I've worked retail. It sucks to be messed with. You're just trying to do your job. Your trainer and/or manager tells you to call it a "Venti (TM)". I would normally understand, really I would. I'd play your despotic marketing games, normally, and call it a flying plaid pig if it made a deep, nutty-black steaming cup of the mud of life and awakening appear in front of me sooner. But it will not. And I shall not. And it's Monday morning, and all I want is a large-as-you-have-got cup of raw, hot black coffee. And besides, this is the United States of America, not Italy, and Starbucks started in freakin' Seattle. Why aren't they using an Inuit word for a large cup of coffee? OK, sure, Starbucks may use Italian espresso machines, but a Ferrari owner does not a rally racer make, right? (Call a spade a fucking shovel)

"No, I'd like a large, please.", emphatic emphasis on the "please".

"I'm sorry,", (No, you're not, really, now are you?), "But we have Tall, Grande, and Venti!", extra perkiness. Extra perkiness solves all problems in retail and customer relations. Also, she's apparently had her coffee. I feel like I'm approaching a fickle, angry oracle, and I must be supplicant and be bearing offerings to recieve the wisdom of the ether.

"That's nice. One large dark-roast please, no room for cream or sugar.", (insert potentially lethal Jedi Stare (TM)). Honey, you do still understand the difference between small, medium, and large, don't you? Starbucks can't seriously have a brainwashing program that frighteningly effective, can it? Can it?!)

"We have Tall, Grande...", she stops midsentence, and likely sees the trapped, caged, wild animal stare in my eyes of an IT cubeslave at 7:45 in the godforsaken morning without his precious coffee, yet, "... a-a large you say?"

"Yes, please, a large dark-roast, no room for cream or sugar, please.". Victory! My coffee is presented to me, and I immediately feel much better with it's bitter warmth in my hands, and that I didn't have to call it by some silly Italian word that likely really means something insulting.

Eventually, the more reliable of the staff got used to it, and never questioned it. I'd ask for a large, and they'd give it to me, no questions asked or marketing flim-flammery foisted upon my weary self. It was a good battle, well fought.

I noticed other regulars began calling it a large as well, and this made it all worth it.


Note especially for europeans or those more evolved Stateside: Please don't assume from this one instance that I'm some sort of monosyllablistic monobrow'ed mouth-breather. I fully support, and understand the benefits of, polylingualism. Putting a coffeehouse menu in PseudoItalian is not polylingualism, nor is it going to educate or enlighten anyone. Thank you.