Waiting in the Sacramento airport the other day with grumbling tummies, my mom and I headed over to a Java City counter. Mom ordered a latté for her and one for Dad. I stepped up to the counter. "Excuse me, do you have chai?"
The lady behind the counter said, "No, but we have soy."
Mom and I stared at her, blinked, and then stared at each other. Blink blink.
In my head I ran through a scenario where I walk into a cafe:
"Excuse me, do you burgers?"
"No, but we have ketchup."
I turned back to Mom. "I'm going to Starbucks," I said and headed off down the terminal.
It should be noted that I'm not a huge Starbucks fan. I much prefer little local coffee shops. However the Sacramento International Airport doesn't offer such options. Nor does my own neighborhood, sad to say.
* * * * *
My friend Jenny and I look quite a bit alike. We have the same height, the same build, same hair type, same hair color, roughly the same skin tone. We wear the same size clothes, we live next door to each other, and we're together a lot. The point that I'm getting at is sometimes people have a hard time telling us apart. My mother was looking at a photo of Jenny and I just the other day and remarked on the amazing similarities. "You could be sisters," she said.
So the other day, Jenny goes into the Starbucks around the corner from my house. "Hi," says the girl behind the counter. "Grande chai latté, right?" Jenny looks confused. She wants coffee.
"But don't you always get chai?" Now it's the Starbucks girl's turn to look confused.
Jenny says, "Well, sometimes, I suppose." Much confusion.
She persuades the counter girl to make her a coffee and gets two steps out the door before she realizes that the girl behind the counter thought she was me.
* * * * *
Once, in Seattle, I ordered a chai latte in a cafe with my breakfast. The waitress delivered a steaming cup to me and I gratefully took a sip. YECK! I flagged down the waitress. "Excuse me, I think you put coffee in my chai."
"Oh, no," said the waitress. "It's espresso."
People from Seattle are actually aliens from a distant planet. There must be some huge government conspiracy to cover the whole thing up. They train these aliens in human interactions and then integrate them into society, probably so they can suck out the brains of well-meaning liberal voters. Of course our government isn't real bright on the whole and they've forgotten a few key points. Like telling the aliens that people don't generally mix coffee and tea together.
I try again. "Um, I didn't really want espresso in my tea."
"But it comes with espresso. That's what latté means."
"Latté means milk."