I just had another faceoff against my arch-rival, the evil Starbucks Jerkwad. Now, first of all, I don’t drink coffee and like all good people, I resist the colonization of our world by the Starbucks Empire and its minions. So I only go to Starbucks when my boss absolutely forces me, which is degrading enough. Imagine how much I hate having to walk in there and be harrassed by Starbucks Jerkwad. Lest you get the wrong impression, the man I refer to as Starbucks Jerkwad is not a nice guy.

See, a few months ago, I was having a bad day, made worse by having to trudge over to Starbucks for my lousy boss, so I walk into the place distracted and in a bad mood and get in the really long line to wait to place an order for a coffee I don’t even want. As I’m waiting, Starbucks Jerkwad opens the other register at the far end of the counter and starts quietly saying, “Next! Next!” in a really loud place of business. Not a good way to get people’s attention. Yet somehow in his mind, when I fail to hear him, I’m the dumb one. I’m sure I was staring into space, looking like the big goofball that I am as I dreamed of happier times in happier coffee shops. I’m sure I looked a bit out of it. So he shouts at me, “Hello! Sir!” He’s getting annoyed, see. Fine, whatever. But when I go over to give him my order, he just stares at me and says, “Are you okay?” Now, genuine concern would be one thing. If he were really trying to intervene with a troubled young man and set him on a better path in life, he would be Starbucks Samaritan. But believe me when I say that was not what he was doing. He then proceded to complete my order as if he had already tripped a silent alarm and the men in white coats were on their way to pick me up.

And if it had ended there, that would’ve been fine. But I’ve ended up having to deal with him at Starbucks two more times since then, and each time, he’s greeted me with “Are you okay?” It’s his little running joke, see. He thinks it’s hilarious. I’m the crazy guy he like to ridicule. So picture me, every time I go back to Starbucks, snapping into my full-on Adam Sandler Punch-Drunk Love simmering rage mode, coming up with comeback lines designed to mash this guy into the dirt. Ooh, for so long I’ve been just begging for a rematch. I will not lose a battle of wits to Starbucks Jerkwad.

So imagine how happy I was to see him when I walked in today. “We meet again, SJ,” I thought. “We meet again…” I waited patiently as another woman took my order and then passed the cup over to SJ, who still hadn’t seen me, so he could fill that cup with a double-shot nonfat capuccino for my lousy boss. And my mind started churning away. “Yeah, I’m okay, but you’re an ASSHOLE!” No, that’s lame. “Actually, I think I’m gonna be sick from lookin’ at your ass face, jerkwad!” God, what is this, junior high? How ’bout just “I think it’s time for a new line, pal. That one’s getting old.” Yeah, that’s it. Not too clever, but it’s taking the high road. Besides, there wasn’t time to come up with anything better. He was putting the lid on my boss’ coffee, and I needed to settle on a line.

“Jerry!” he called out, sliding my cup across the counter.

He looked up and saw me coming, and I waited for that inevitable obnoxious running joke of his, ready to shoot out my preforumlated response as though I haven’t been waiting for this moment for the last three weeks — my heart pounding, my head full of doubt about whether I had selected the best retort. “Nonfat double cap?” he said.

“Yeah.” I picked up the cup. And then he turned around and started making the next person’s coffee.

“Thanks,” I said. And I turned around and left Starbucks, pausing briefly to hold the door for an old Japanese woman in a shawl.

Say what you want. I think I won this round.

The score:

Jerry: 1

Starbucks Jerkwad: 3

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