Sitting in a Starbucks in Chiang Mai I feel like I am in a familiar place. This could be the Starbucks in Perth, in Lima, in Panama City, West Los Angeles, NYC or Dubai. Every civilized place on the planet has at least one. Sorry Bocas. Chiang Mai has like seven. On any continent they are all exactly alike. The only difference is the décor on the “personalized” mugs they try to sell you.
What’s more, the same people who stood in line in front of me in Perth or West LA or NYC stand in line in front of me in Chiang Mai, and everywhere else. They all ask for just about the same thing. The session goes something like this.
“I’ll have a half latte, half mocha, half cappuccino with half cream and make it only half hot please.”
By the time the barista, usually a college educated person in their mid twenties bummed at using their degree in Philosophy to do chemistry experiments with coffee beans, is ready to serve me, I am perturbed. My problem, fine. Here is how my order goes.
“I’ll have a small black coffee”
“Will that be mocha or a cappuccino?
“Fresh cream from Sumatran sacred goats in that sir?”
“Black, a small black coffee”
“A grande then”
“No. Didn’t you learn anything at Harvard? Grande means big, large, and bigger than small. I want, again, now listen hard, A SMALL BLACK COFEE”
“Do you want Columbian, Kenyan, Costa Rican or our house blend?”
“If it is black, and you don’t ask another question, I don’t care.”
A brief roll of the eyes that say “I should have gone to grad school” is followed by “Yes sir, that will be (Insert too high a price in any currency here)”
But this is just my problem. I’m glad I did not graduate into this economy, so I still tip them.
If you decide to come to Chiang Mai, I’ll meet you in the Starbucks by the Thai Pea gate. Anytime. The guy quoting Thoreau in Thai is my waiter.