01 December, 2011

My wallet hurts

There are two situations in which I will buy coffee from Starbucks. The first is in airports, typically when  I haven't slept much but have given up on the idea of sleeping on a flight. The second is when I'm with my mom and sister, usually in California, and they want to go to Starbucks. In neither case do I ever pay with actual cash for the coffee because I seem to constantly have 2 or 3 Starbucks gift cards in my wallet that have been gifts from various relatives.

Maybe it's the fact that I'm in Europe and missing American things, or maybe the online advertising subconsciously got to me. But last week I had a craving for the Starbucks holiday drinks. I was in the library at the time, so another possibility is that the 1CHF vending machine coffee had finally pushed me to the point where I wanted SUGAR AND GINGERBREAD in my coffee so that I wasn't just drinking a rather tasteless, dark brown liquid caffeine. Actually the vending machine coffee here is surprisingly decent, and instead of keeping a box of useless change at home, almost all of my spare coins go to feeding the library coffee machine. With the exception of the 5 cent coins which the machine is too stingy to take. Those were saved for the US Consulate since I had to pay 72.80 in cash to have more pages added to my passport. If they were going to be assholes and make me pay an odd amount in cash, I was going to be the asshole who walks in with a bunch of change. Which I promptly dropped all over the lobby as I tried pulling a handful of 5 cent coins out of my pocket.

When I left the consulate I had over an hour to kill before class and was in a part of Geneva I rarely spend time in so I decided to try and find a local coffeeshop to sit and read. The only one I found in the area was full, but across the street from it was a Starbucks and I remembered my earlier craving. I hesitated, briefly, before saying fuck it and going in and ordering a small gingerbread latte.

Starbucks guy: "Sept franc soixante, s'il vous plait.
me: "quoi? C'est combien?"
Starbucks asshole: "Seven sixty."

No, I got it the first time. I just thought I had mis-heard because paying 7.60 for a god damn small coffee is fucking absurd. The exchange rate has improved a lot over the past month but that's still over $8.30 for a small amount of crap coffee, milk, and gingerbread syrup. I reluctantly handed over the cash, feeling too awkward to just turn around and walk out since they had already started making the drink. I'm so used to drinking black coffee that any kind of flavored drink just feels like a dessert to me. I drank the entire thing in about 2 minutes and was left sitting there thinking, "really? was that worth 8 dollars for two minutes of only mediocre enjoyment?" The drink had been served in a huge ceramic mug, and coffee mugs are in short supply in my apartment. I had thought about buying an extra mug at the grocery store recently and here I had this great big mug right in front of me. 7.60 seemed like a decent price for the mug plus some coffee. I stuffed it in my bag and walked out, feeling much less shitty about my recent purchase.

Legal disclaimer: This story is a work of fiction. I would never, ever pay 7.60CHF for a coffee or steal a mug, much less post a story about it on the internet. That would just be stupid. I do not condone theft, particularly when in a foreign country.