“Mom, I don’t know why you don’t get the app on your phone,” my daughter Heather told me, as she handed the Starbucks Barista my gold card.
“Because I like human interaction much more,” I said. “I don’t like that they keep trying to get more and more technology down our throats.”
“As you wish. But I’m telling you, it’s much more convenient, and you don’t even have to wait in line any longer!”
That conversation rang in my ears one morning when I was late for my writing class. I’d been looking forward to indulging myself with a soy chai latte for days, knowing I’d be heading back to my old grounds in Boston. I missed the days when Heather worked at the Starbucks on Berkeley and Boylston streets, when they started making my drink as soon as they saw me walk through the door. I missed the days when I was compensated with my drink, and written on the side of the mug it said, “Mom, have a nice day!” Even if Heather wasn’t there. That was the day I heard Heather’s voice in my head, and I broke down and got the stupid app.
I parked my car and hurried down the street. I winced at the long line at the counter, not sure how the app worked. Just as I poked my head over the counter to ask, I saw a sign that said “Mobile Order Pickup” and just below it was a drink with my name on it. That was easy! I thought, as I headed to class. But when I took the first sip, I knew it wasn’t made with soy milk. I frowned, but kept walking, irritated that they messed up my order.
The next time I was in town for a class, I tried again, with the same result. Why do they keep giving up my soybeans? I really hate milk!
I used the exercise we were given in class as an excuse to kill two birds with one stone. They told us to go out and interview someone and observe our surroundings. But he had an agenda and he knew what he had to do.
“Excuse me,” I said to the Starbucks barista who was filling the cold shelf with prepared fruity drinks, her blonde hair tied tightly into a neat bun. “Can you help me with my application? I keep ordering my soy chai drink, but I never seem to get soy.”
“It’s good that you’re not lactose intolerant!” he said with a laugh. “Let me take a look,” he said, reaching for my phone. I watched him quickly navigate my favorites in the app. An unfamiliar melody played in the background and it made me want to kick my foot as another man approached.
“Oh, I’m not in line,” I said, stepping aside to let him pass.
“Oh no, I’m waiting for you,” he said, waving at the barista, who was sunk into my phone. I noticed the man holding a black plastic disc the size of a quarter and wondered what it was.
Another man came up with a cardboard tray of two drinks and an empty, cracked Starbucks plastic cup. Again, I indicated that I was not in line.
“Oh I need she, “he said. Apparently I’ve started something here.
“Wow, everyone needs you today,” I laughed.
After a while, the barista was able to erase my old “favorite” and uploaded a new one that clearly said soy.
“That’s so weird, I know I selected the soy when I ordered it,” I said, and then kindly thanked him for his help. I walked away and noticed that the man with the disk quickly handed it to him and headed for the door.
“Is that all you had to do?” I asked, surprised by his patience and feeling bad for taking so long with this suddenly sought-after barista.
“Yes,” he replied with a smile and left.
Since I didn’t use my app this time, I queued up and decided to give the new Pink Drink a try.
I sat down to sip the sparkling fuchsia drink at the bar, observing customers and taking notes, when an attractive Asian woman came up and asked me what my drink was.
“Even though it looks like Pepto-Bismol, it’s actually quite tasty,” I said.
Hmm, I wonder if I’ll start another trend today, and soon there will be a trail of Pink Drinks coming out of the store.. I noticed the long line as people waited for their drink orders, and I wondered: What about these people? Don’t have the app?
Journey of life; Berkshires to Boston and everything in between …