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March 13th, 2005


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01:28 am
You got me for a few more minutes, at least until the melatonin kicks in.

Started out today by doing various car-like things with muffyjo which included but was not limited to throwing around bags of cat litter and cat food, eating french french toast (french toast made with french bread and grilled bananas on top) and amusing random cashiers with stories about people who kiss you after an all-night trip to LL Bean and then run away. (Happened to her, not me.) Then, as my gloves were whisked away on an impromptu trip to Cape Cod, the rest of my wardrobe and me hung around Somerville for a Theatre@First gathering in the form of an informal script reading of Lanford Wilson's Talley & Son, the second prequel to Fifth of July. In February T@F put on the first prequel, Talley's Folly, and people expressed interest in the subsequent Talley plays. I rather enjoyed hanging out on a snowy Saturday with my T@F friends cold-reading a script; it was great to watch people play off each other and develop characters, however briefly, with a script many had never read before. gilana made a wonderful crotchety old radium-poisoned aunt, for instance. I hope there's more opportunity for this in the future, since I do so love to read scripts and I'm unable to participate in any productions, evening-wise, until (and if) my work schedule changes.

After a bit of food at Johnny D's in Davis (holy cow is that cake batter ice cream something delicious) I set out for Harvard Square to meet Kat, Ian and one or more of the Dorchester Durffokkens. Before going to Cambridge Common I set a spell at the Starbucks across the street and had an unsettling encounter. Now I don't particularly detest Starbucks, though I much prefer to patronize local coffeehouses in the area; however the snow was falling and I was slushed out and I didn't want to go into a bar just yet, so I snuck in to the Latte-Mart for a quick cardboard cup of Earl Grey tea which I gathered would only cost me maybe $1.50 tops.

"Ooh, have you tried Earl Grey and orange tea together?" the barista asked as she grabbed a cup and went for the teabags. "Some lady was in here a few days ago and she ordered it and I was all 'ok, that's weird' but I tried it too and I actually really liked it. The orange and the bergamot turn out nice together. Let me make you one, and if you don't like it, you can bring it back up here and I'll give you regular Earl Grey, okay?"

"Is it gonna cost extra?" I asked, suddenly intensely concerned about the price of this cardboard cup of tea.

"Nah, don't worry," she said, and so I agreed. It wasn't bad, I'll admit to that, but it was nothing spectacular, either, and I'm sure no feelings will be hurt if I go back to regular Earl Grey for the rest of my natural-born life. However, halfway through the cardboard cup I got to musing about the barista's generous offer (of course those who know me understand I never see conspiracy in anything, no sir) and then it hit me: I'd been future-upsold. There was no real sincere concern for my tea-drinking well-being, no, nor had I really expected that. What I hadn't expected was a clever push to get me to enjoy a blend of two teabags in one cup so that, the next time I'd go up for a cardboard cup of tea, I'd ask and pay for two teabags. I figured every kind of tea must have some complementary counterpart to it that could be suggested upon ordering. In the grand tradition of all fixes, of course, the first one was free. It was an insidious gamble but a relatively risk-free one: at the very least, Starbucks Inc. was out one (1) extra teabag of orange tea. At best, someone would start ordering two (2) teabags with every cup from now on. While I enjoyed the additional tea in my cup, I still felt like I'd been had -- yet I wasn't out any extra money.

So, then: unfounded conspiracy, or clever speculatory upsell? Well, next time you're in a chain coffeeshop, order some tea and see if the barista doesn't casually suggest a mix or blend. Let me know what happens. I'd be interested to see if this was some kinda crazy chain-wide phenomenon.

Eventually I met Kat, Ian and gnostalgia at Cambridge Commons and we enjoyed many fine rounds of brewed beverages, but honestly I don't think I can provide a transcript of such a meeting without violating several state and federal laws concering obscenity, border crossings and encryption. But I heartily recommend the Dogfish Head 60-minute IPA, as well as the Cambridge Brewing Company Bitchin Dinner Bitter and the HopDevil whatever and the other one and that other one and the stuff I had after that and it's a shame you weren't there, that's all I can say.

(13 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:muffyjo
Date:March 13th, 2005 08:00 am (UTC)
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I think the cashier was more amused by the tale rather than anything else. I just felt rude excluding her from the conversation, after all, she WAS standing right there.

Thank you for a lovely morning/afternoon of adventures.
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From:gilana
Date:March 13th, 2005 11:27 am (UTC)
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So glad you could be there for the reading -- that was so much fun. I think we should definitely do that on a regular basis!
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From:maga_dogg
Date:March 13th, 2005 01:12 pm (UTC)
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Enh. It's not too much of a stretch of the imagination to think that someone who works in a place selling tea and coffee might actually be an enthusiast of said beverages as opposed to (merely) a braindead wage-slave. And if there's one attribute shared by enthusiasts, it's a desire to impose their subject of their enthusiasm upon you.

So, like, when I was working in isquiesque's ranger station, there's a bookshop, and part of our rangerly duties involved helping people find Bear Taunting for Beginners</i> and so on. One woman, as she's handing over stuff at the register, mentions that she's mainly buying book X for the stunning photography. Now, elsewhere in the store, not as prominently displayed as it should be, is a book whose stunning photography makes this one's look feeble, and which I have drooled over with fingers a-wiggle on many occasions. So naturally I bounce up, find the book, hand it to her and enthuse copiously about its awe-inspiring merits. Three minutes later, both books sold.

And it was only afterwards, when I got over the initial feeling of 'whoa, I actually helped a customer in a proactive and personable way while sharing an interest', that I realised 'shit, I just conned that chick into buying a thirty-dollar book.'

It's probably more likely that it's unspoken Store Policy that you be effusively helpful, without dictating the precise ways to do this, because that way a) people come back and b) your ass remains temporarily unfired.

(Also, orange and Earl Grey are very standard. They're called Lady Grey and in the UK at least you can get them in a single teabag).
[User Picture]
From:maga_dogg
Date:March 13th, 2005 01:12 pm (UTC)
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AIE the uneditable comments and the rampaging bold tag
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From:derspatchel
Date:March 13th, 2005 05:05 pm (UTC)
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While I have seen the packaging for Lady Grey tea I always think of the Lady Remington electric shaver instead (or Jane Curtin as Lady Wilkinson if one remembers the old SNL sketch.) I will admit it seems like a good idea to put the orange in with the bergamot, but perhaps I'd have been better to discover it on my own time.

I used to have to do upselling as part of another phone-based monkey job; I know how you're supposed to approach it and make it seem natural and comfortable and all, but I never enjoyed it at all. I also know that nobody involved in upselling then sits back and goes "Woo, I sure pulled one over on that rube" so there's consolation to be had in that.

Also, when one graduates from Bear Taunting, do they go up to Bear Baiting? It sounds like a goal easily attainable.
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From:maga_dogg
Date:March 13th, 2005 06:11 pm (UTC)
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Generally, when one graduates from Bear Taunting, it's to the emergency room.
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From:rhinoplastique
Date:March 13th, 2005 03:45 pm (UTC)
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I order tea from Starbucks fairly regularly; no similar experience to report.
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From:nathanw
Date:March 13th, 2005 04:27 pm (UTC)
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Since orange pekoe tea isn't orange-flavored (and earl grey is, perversely), doesn't that mean that you're basically ordering a lower proportion of orange flavor? It's as if you ordered a coffee with hazelnut syrup and the barista asked "ooh, have you tried the coffee with half as much hazelnut syrup?" Not that more flavor is always better, but even if you were being teabag-upsold you were flavor-downsold.
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From:nathanw
Date:March 13th, 2005 04:32 pm (UTC)
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Rereading, of course, I see that I assumed "orange pekoe" where you said "orange tea", and maybe it was orange-flavored tea after all. So that would be orange with more orange, which makes a little more sense.
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From:derspatchel
Date:March 13th, 2005 05:08 pm (UTC)
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I did accidentally drop a 'pekoe' in there, but it has since been removed. The tea was definitely orange-flavored.
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From:zorndeslammes
Date:March 13th, 2005 10:03 pm (UTC)

re:

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>>But I heartily recommend the Dogfish Head 60-minute IPA, as well as the Cambridge Brewing Company Bitchin Dinner Bitter and the HopDevil whatever and the other one and that other one and the stuff I had after that and it's a shame you weren't there, that's all I can say.<<

I can vouch for the tastiness of the Dogfish Head IPA. Mmmm. Good stuff. Plus you had it tap...I can only get bottles. =/
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From:ketzie
Date:March 14th, 2005 02:43 am (UTC)
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We loved seeing you Spatchamaphone. It was a fine, malty evening.
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From:chanaleh
Date:March 14th, 2005 10:11 pm (UTC)
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Hey, I didn't really get a chance to tell you, but I thought your reading was particularly good. :-)

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