It’s been a week since I made the move to DC. Gradually, I acclimate to the hustle of the city—the rapid pace each professional walks with, their superior sense of dress code, and the efficiency of which they work at. It’s as if their presence at the next destination is of severe importance, every time. Day by day, I take one step closer to becoming one of them.
But my writing lags. At night, I sit in my room at the Homewood Suites, suffering. I try to find ways to retell the adventures of Bill and I in Boise, and fail routinely. I struggle to describe the ruthless nature of Gretch. Worst of all, I can’t even convey the blaring foibles of Josh Ulrich, a rudimentary task for even the most novice of writers.
By God, I can’t even make fun of Ben Woodward!
…Each night, I sit in a constant state of agony, unable to put words to paper.
For over a year, I had frequented the local coffee shop closest to my home. It was a place of efficiency, where my presence was welcome, where I could write freely, unabated from the stress of the world. A place where each barista would greet me with alacrity and fondly accept my entry into their place of business. And as always, the feeling was mutual. At the Starbucks on Bucklin Hill Road in Silverdale, WA, I was a mean, green, writing machine, and I loved every minute of it.
I needed my mojo back, a catalyst to spark my creativity. Something to bring me back to my A-game; my motivation.
I needed to find my Bucklin Hill Starbucks.
A quick search on Yelp reveals a myriad of choices near my area, none of which are Starbucks. Apparently, Starbucks is too corporate for Yelp. The reasons could vary, and are probably plentiful, but it’s a lost cost, for I have yet to pass a one that remains open past 9:00 PM in the city. In fact, very few coffee shops are open past 5:00 PM, and I only drink coffee at night.
Yet, hope remains. One specific shop catches my eye. It’s located a mere 2 blocks from my hotel. Slipstream Coffeehouse, open until 11:30 PM. Bingo.
I investigate further to verify this particular establishment meets my standards. The website suggests a local, high-end institution—many close-ups of elegant coffee drinks and natural ingredients all over the website. There are even exotic locales on display to show where their coffee grounds come from, places like Africa.
It also shows alcohol. It’ll do.
30 minutes later I enter the shop, a modern atmosphere cloaked with a rustic façade—a hipster’s paradise. Lucky for me, I’ve achieved an enlightened tolerance level for the hipster scene through years of enduring the social climate in Seattle. I can handle that of which most cannot. I continue forward and approach the bar.
Across from me is a wall of liquors, elegantly lighted and stacked along a recessed cabinet. Indeed, the owners are honest in their advertising, a respectable sign of good business. Why not give it a chance?
The barista and I make eye-contact. Assertive, no nonsense, black button down—this isn’t her first rodeo. We wait a moment. “Hello,” she says. No turning back now. An awkward feeling escalates. Do I bark out my order? I run the risk of being impolite. I say nothing. A few more seconds pass. “Do you know what you’d like?” she asks.
I look at the menu. Too many extravagant drinks to choose from. It’s becomes a blur. Another customer gets in line. No time to think. Don’t be that guy. The stakes rise. One wrong word and I look like an idiot in front of the barista and everybody else around—something you never want to do. Ok, keep it cool—keep it simple. You know exactly what you want. I speak, clear, concise, and with confidence. “I’ll take a Grande Latte.”
She tilts her head and stares, one hand on her hip, unable to control the sardonic smile creeping up on her face. The stagnation is even more unbearable than before. Was it something I said?
“Grande Latte?” she finally replies. Anxiety fills within me as I wait for her next words. “That’s such a Starbucks thing to say…”
Her words are crushing and commanding, gathering the attention of the entire wait staff. It includes the other baristas, cooks, bar tenders and all. Half the restaurant is aware of the cardinal blunder. Besides a sorry explanation of my prior inhabitance in Seattle, I’m at a loss for words. Grande Latte, at the cool coffee shop? How can I be so stupid???
“How about I make you a 12-ounce latte?” she suggests.
“12-ounce latte. I’ll take it.” I keep my composure and accept the drink. We talk afterwards. Turns out, she’s from Washington too.
I survive… for now.
Most people would’ve left a situation like that in shame. To some, there’s nothing worse than being humiliated in such dramatic fashion. And honestly, most probably wouldn’t have the courage to step foot in a like-establishment ever again! I can’t imagine what the case would be if it were a Ben Woodward or Josh Ulrich type.
Not me though. I know my roots, where it all began. No shame, whatsoever. You can make fun of me and my provincial Starbucks lingo all you want. I can take it. I have much writing to do after all, and I can’t afford any lost time, no matter how much of a dingus I look like.
…The sacrifices I’m willing to make for the world.
I guess I’ll be back to the Slipstream, even though it’s not exactly a Starbucks. That’s a lie—I’ve been back. Twice already (I mean, they do have beer after all). Besides, there’s still a lot to learn about this town. Maybe this barista can help. I think we’re tight now. Hell, maybe there’s a couple things I can teach them!
Perhaps I’ve found my Bucklin Hill Starbucks after all…