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A Starbucks in the Target?

Not sure what came over us the other day but for some reason we suddenly had this craving for a coffee. The trouble was, we happened to be in the Home Depot parking lot at the time. One of us perked up at the idea and said that she thought there might be a Starbucks inside a nearby Target store. This seemed highly unlikely to the rest of us but we headed over anyway and damned if it wasn't true! They really are popping up everywhere. We were pondering this phenomenon as we rolled through the double doors into all the garish colors, unnatural lighting, and bustling mom's scrapping and elbowing for deals and wondered how they managed to staff them all. Could Arizona coffee drinkers sustain such an infusion of hot drinks? Sure enough though, amongst all the Tarjay fanfare, we could smell the tell-tale percolating that goes with a Starbucks and saw the now familiar green sign off to the side where you'd normally expect to see a shabby food court. With mounting salivary anticipation we headed over in hopes of ordering a cup. A short time later, we were home unsatisfied and felt obligated to take a seat at the computer and write this brief review warning readers that, while the prices may be the same, the Target Starbucks experience is very different from what we remember of a visit to a corner shop back in our Seattle days.

First of all, the baristas, if you can even call them that in this particular case, were about as far removed from pleasant, attractive, and efficient as we've encountered working behind a counter of any kind. We don't visit Tucson coffee houses all that often but Starbucks used to be known for having bouncy, over caffeinated, counter help that was so abnormally chipper that a fellow was sometimes forced to cringe and plug his ears (depending on how hungover he was) in the face of their incessant perkiness. A goliard in need of a jolt back in the day however, didn't really mind all this since the baristas (at least in Seattle) were usually beautiful, or at least interesting looking, people and the happy banter they spewed often helped to wake a brother up and prepare him for his day. 

This gaggle, on the other hand, were as haggard as the aforementioned day is long. One appeared to be an emaciated smoker of about sixty, another an angry biker woman who had somehow crammed herself into an apron, and the third a washed out community college student with a pouting mouth full of bad teeth. Now we're a far cry from folks that have any business judging others by appearance but it just seemed surprising is all. It became much more so when pouting mouth informed us right off the bat that our order would take about ten minutes since they were out of coffee and lids. Yes, you read that right, coffee and lids. The two things you expect every Starbucks to always have on hand. All out apparently.

Since we hadn't even ordered yet and one of us wasn't getting a coffee drink anyway (not to mention that the other didn't really need a lid since they just planned on pouring the drink in a travel mug) it seemed additionally strange to be told about the ten minute thing. We sort of just stood there at first with our mouths agape trying to process this information until Pouty advised, as if it had just come to her, that we could shop at Target while we were waiting. Aaah! Perhaps this is the arrangement the two stores have, cheaper rent for forcing people through the turnstiles. We didn't really want anything from Target but didn't know what else to do either so we said maybe we'd order and then walk around. Pouty reluctantly grabbed a pen and a cup and and cocked her head which evidently meant she was ready to listen.
"Do you have soy milk?"
"I don't know I guess we do."
"Well we'd like a latte made with soy then. Double shot, half caff. And a hot chocolate."

Pouty jotted some hieroglyphics on the cups and then handed them to Biker who set them in front of Smokestack. We watched curiously since a latte requires ground coffee beans and not brewed coffee which we were thinking was the only thing that could possibly take ten minutes but all three simply turned their backs in unison and begin ripping open bags of this and wiping various surfaces with dirty rags. We wandered off after awhile feeling helpless and confused and decided that we might as well stroll through Target and look around while we collected ourselves.

Walking through a Target is probably not a good way to clear up such a mental state and we tired quickly of looking at nick nacks and returned five minutes later to find that they hadn't yet started on our drinks. When they saw us coming however, Smokestack began trying to read Pouty's writing on the side of the cup and eventually had to ask her what the notation for "soy" meant at which point they both kneeled and began rutting around in a cooler. Smokestack popped up after a bit and said, "Got no soy here!" in a strung out, craggly sort of cackle that was a bit alarming to behold given that it was coming from under the familiar Starbucks hat. Had one encountered the identical countenance and wheeze while asking for directions at a truck stop in rural West Virginia it would be one thing but at Starbucks? Maybe paradigms are shifting and we just aren't paying enough attention.
"Just make it an Americano then." We forgot to specify a cup change to short and Smokestack didn't ask.
"Need room?"
"Pardon me."
"Need room?" she rasped.
"For what? Cream? Not unless you have soy which you said you didn't."
"Got no soy." 

She said the word "soy" as if it was a word foreign to the world of coffee and meant something like "plutonium" or "urea". Once she had perpetrated the drink, she shouted "Double shot Americano, no room!" to the whole area as if she didn't know who had ordered it even though we had remained standing right in front of her during the entire conversation.

The cup of course was brimming over and scalding hot because she had poured sixteen ounces of boiling water in with two shots of pulverized bean both of which were no doubt caffeinated and now looked too diluted in the latte grande sized cup to be any good. Since we had sort of lost our craving for coffee by this point anyway, we simply poured the drink on the ground in the parking lot and headed home. Oh well, so much for grabbing a quick cup of joe. The hot chocolate was reported to be good at least.

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