The other day, Jan-Philipp and me went for a quick espresso after lunch in an ‘espresso bar’ kind of place. I’ll just ignore the outrageous price of €1,60 that they charge for a simple espresso for the moment, but focus on their service instead. Just picture the following dialogue:
Sven: I’d like an espresso please.
Espresso bar staff: (ha! nice non-sexists title here…) Would you like a single or a double?
Sven (thinking): Eeek, those silly coffee-chain stores and the damned americanisation where an espresso can’t simply be an espresso and you need extra choices for everything.
Sven (speaking): Just a normal espresso please.
Espresso bar staff: All right – would that be a single or a double then?
Sven (thinking): Yikes, idiot! … hmm, I guess we could continue this ad infinitum but the quickest way to actually get my coffee will be to play their game.
Sven (speaking): A single please.
Espresso bar staff: All right, thanks. Would you like anything else with that?
Sven (thinking): Rush to hell!
Sven (thinking about his thinking): All right I shouldn’t think that as the concept of hell doesn’t make much sense when you don’t go for the other religious junk as well. Perhaps I should rather think Die! Die! Die!
Sven (thinking about thinking about his thinking): Hmm, that’s going a bit too far perhaps, and I guess that hell is enough of a commonplace word by now to use it in this context without needing all the religious crap…
Sven (speaking): No thanks.
As you will have guessed, this really makes me sick. Not only am I forced to lie to the people working there just to get a coffee (instead of being kicked out for saying what I actually think and being kicked out or something). But it also illustrated how the people working there have absolutely no idea about what an espresso usually is. I didn’t even say the ‘normal’ thing in spite to begin with (although I would have, had I known the confusion that would cause), I was just irritated by the unexpected choice and wanted to go for the default without having to figure out what their twisted minds had actually come up with.
Just compare this situation to what happens in an Italian restaurant, say. I.e. a place where people are at least likely to be familiar with espresso: You order an espresso, you get an espresso. No stupid questions asked. And for those who absolutely need the extra caffeine of a double espresso – guess what? They know what they want and simply order it. Once again, without any stupid questions being asked.