Tuesday, November 1, 2011

This ain't your New York Starbucks

My first Salt Lake City culture shock happened in Starbucks.

We had reached the city on our fourth day of driving. We were low on caffeine, and we wanted desperately to be out of that car. If we had driven just two blocks further, we would have found an independent café with a promising bike rack and a cozy fireplace. (Pangs of regret!) However, the giant Starbucks sign drew us in like one of Odysseus' sirens, and we stopped.

Almost immediately, the barista struck up a conversation with us. Within minutes, he learned that we had just driven 35 hours over the course of four days; that we had taken I-80; that A. was here for a new job; that we all like to cycle. Within minutes, we knew that the barista was originally from the east coast, too; that the drive through Kansas is probably worse than the drive through Nebraska; and that he could make us a "half-caf" that would really hit the spot.

We had paid, coffees in hand, but the conversation kept going. At every pause, I would smile and take a small step backward, only to realize that the conversation wasn't done. The line was growing behind us. I glanced over my shoulder nervously, expecting to see hovering customers and angry glares. I was sure that, ten minutes ago, someone should have already been ordering at the counter while I stood to the side and struggled to get my change back into my wallet. Instead, no one seemed to mind!

This may take some getting used to.

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