It was approximately 8:55 am last Friday morning when a stranger asked for my name. I was in a long line at Starbucks, and our conversation started with raised eyebrows from her—the barista—followed by my drink order: “I’ll have a Grandé mocha.” There might have been a hint of uptalk at the end of that statement, but there was nothing uncertain or wavering about my response to the next question. She asked for my name, and I shouted, without missing a beat, “Kristen.” Articulating my real first name would have been awfully inconvenient, given the noise level around us and the need for efficiency. “Svati” always warrants repeating. My middle name, Kirsten, is also unfamiliar, so I modify it slightly to Kristen, which everyone recognizes. I am one of many "uncommonly named" people who do this all the time, at Starbucks and elsewhere.
An hour later, at the Atlantic headquarters, a senior editor saw me sipping my mocha and surmised that I’d stolen someone else’s drink. This, too, happens all the time: Drinking out of disposable coffee cups scrawled with “Kristen”—or “Cristin,” “Christen,” and the like, because baristas are notorious for putting creative twists on even the most ubiquitous names—invites questions and teasing remarks. “Guess Kristen didn’t get her coffee today.” I had barely begun to explain—”Ha ha, actually, this is just the name…”—when our site’s executive editor John Gould interrupted and self-identified as a member of the fake-Starbucks-name club.
If you happen to find yourself at a Starbucks today—or anytime, really, throughout the weekend—your coffee might come with a shot of politics. You might encounter the petition pictured above. ”Come together,” it may read, “and our voices will be heard.”
Imagine walking into Starbucks and discovering that your grande latte cost $27. You’d probably think that the world’s coffee supply had suddenly vanished. Or that you’d traveled by time machine many decades into the future.
These inflated prices gives you a pretty good idea of the relative cost (adjusted to per capita income) of what a Chinese person pays for the drink. China’s per capita income, at about $7,200, is around five and a half times less than the American figure. Yet at a Starbucks in Beijing, a grande latte goes for about $4.80—or a dollar more than what it costs in the United States. A simple beverage of espresso and steamed milk is pretty damned expensive in China.
Read more. [Image: Jason Lee/Reuters]
Is this actually happening?