Starbucks War on Christmas

FILE — A barista reaches for a red paper cup as more, with cardboard liners already attached, line the top of an espresso machine at a Starbucks coffee shop in the Pike Place Market, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015, in Seattle. It was as red as Santa's suit, a poinsettia blossom or a loud Christmas sweater. Yet Starbucks' minimalist holiday coffee cup set off complaints that the chain was making war on Christmas.

Pat Muir is on assignment this week. Here’s some classic complaining from 2016.


Longtime reader, first-time whiner.

Why does my barista think I care that she had to replace her hot-water heater? And that it took so long for the water to heat up that she was forced to shower at her boyfriend’s house? (Yeah, right.) Let’s not mention that my impressionable kids are in the backseat listening to everything she says on the off-chance that she might offer them a sucker. She rattles on and on, as if I’m in the market for a hot water heater myself.

All the while, my eyes are focused on the counter just beyond her. I see my hot Americano with cream sitting there for so long that it may as well be iced. I notice the line of cars queuing up behind me. I think she notices, too, but this doesn’t help stop the mindless babble.

Look, Crabbs, I’m a nice guy, so I sit there and listen to (endure) it all until the bitter end. Internally, however, I’m cringing, swearing in my mind and grinding my teeth every time she starts up again. I haven’t even mentioned that this is one of those hipster places with the annoying music that’s turned up so loud they can’t really hear anything I say anyway. Surprisingly, the coffee is good, which is the only reason I put myself through this torture.

Why don’t baristas understand that their customers are there just to buy a cup of coffee? If I wanted a relationship, I’d try that espresso joint with the scantily clad women.

Maybe I’m Too Old for Coffee

Dear Too Old,

Well, HAVE you thought about getting a new hot-water heater? They’re making more efficient ones all the time. Who knows what kind of savings you’re missing out on, not to mention the environmental impact. (Pardon me. I know that’s not why you wrote; I just have a passion for efficient home heating and cooling.)

Anyway, your barista problem seems like a variation on a societal failing we deal with pretty regularly here in the Dear Crabby column: people’s inability to communicate via polite social cues. It also could be a matter of your barista needing a conversational outlet and not recognizing boundaries. These issues are not distinct but often found in the same person. (The nonscientific term we at the Dear Crabby office have come up with for these people is “idiots.”)

The only way to change that behavior is to address it. You tell her you’re in a hurry, or you ask her politely for the Americano you clearly see is finished. If that’s a little too uncomfortable for you (which is totally understandable, nice guy) you may have to start going elsewhere for coffee. There’s good coffee all over this town. All over this entire region, really.

You could also buy some beans and start making coffee at home with a French press or a Chemex. Both methods require you to boil water, but you’ll probably be doing that for baths and laundry and stuff anyway — at least until you upgrade to that more efficient hot-water heater we were talking about.

Hope that helps.

Sincerely, Crabby

Please send your questions, complaints and irritations to with the subject “Dear Crabby.”