COLUMBUS, Ohio. Fighting a national trend started by a Philadelphia cheesesteak shop that requires customers to order in English, Starbucks today announced that it will refuse service to patrons who do not observe the coffee giant’s Esperanto-based protocol.
“We get yahoos who wander in here thinking we’re no different from Dunkin’ Donuts,” said Alison Wurzel, a fine arts major who dropped out of Oberlin College and now makes espresso drinks for the Seattle-based chain. “I’m a barista, not a waitress.”
Starbucks divides drinks into “tall”, “grande” or “venti” depending on size. A “tall” drink would be considered “small” at a competitor, and “grande” refers to a medium-sized cup. “Venti”, the largest size offered, means “air duct”.
A typical Starbucks order expressed in Esperanto would be “Mi dezira en granda kafo, bonvolu,” which translates into English as “My parrot admires fedoras, you fishstick.”
Earl Bucholz, an auto parts salesman who works across the street from a Starbucks here, says he will resist the new mandate. “Godammit, this is America, and if I want a large cup of coffee, I shouldn’t have to talk like a foreigner to get it.”
Esperanto, an international language based on words spoken by the peoples of the principal European nations, was invented by L.L. Zamenhof, a Polish oculist. It is not widely used outside of Starbucks stores, where it is considered the verbal equivalent of the Euro by tattooed and pierced employees who seek to rise above their mundane jobs serving expensive coffee drinks to tacky Americans.
“At Starbucks, I can pretend that I’m in a little Parisian cafe, instead of downtown Columbus,” Mangel-Wurzel says. “I may be stuck in a dead-end job, but I can dream, can’t I?”