i don't KARE-uh-mel

this is by far the dumbest exchange i've ever had with a customer:

barista brat: "hi, what drink can i get for you today?"
idiot customer: "gimme one of those caramel (KARE-uh-mel) blended thingies."
bb: "sure, what size would you like that caramel (khar-mul) frappuccino?"
ic: "what?"
bb: "what size would you like?"
ic: "yeah, i heard you."
bb: "um, ok. did you want me to pick a size for you?"
ic: "you know, i don't appreciate you making fun of me."
bb: "i wasn't making fun of you."
ic: "well, you were making fun of the way i said 'caramel'."
bb: "no i didn't."
ic: "then why did you feel the need to correct my pronunciation?"
bb: "i never corrected your pronunciation."
ic: "yes you did! you said it like this - CARmel."
bb: "ma'am, that's how i say that word."
ic: "so! i say it like this - KARE-uh-mel."
bb: "ok...."
ic: "i just came here to get a drink. i didn't think i'd be judged for how i say things."
bb: "believe me ma'am, i not judging you for that reason."

after her drink was made my fellow barista buddy put it on the hand-off counter for her.
barista buddy: "grande caramel frappuccino on the bar!"
idiot customer: "is that the same thing as a KARE-uh-mel frappuccino?"

barista rant: when it's closing time you have to leave the store, ok? don't sit there expecting to hang out all night. and when i walk over to where you're sitting and nicely inform you that it's ten minutes past closing, don't try and shoo me away because you're on the phone. guess what? your cell phone is portable - meaning you can still talk on it as you exit my store. don't huff and point to the phone attached to your head as if i'm supposed to slowly back away and leave you alone. if you don't want me to bug you during your phone calls then why don't you make them somewhere else.


Gwen said...

Wow, awesome. I'm a KARE-uh-mel person and had to wait on a lot of KHAR-mul customers back in my Starbucks days (and at the indie coffeeshop too). Of course I wasn't making fun of them, but I'm not going to change the way I pronounce a word just so they don't have to feel insecure.

I love how you told her you weren't judging her "for that reason."

Beth said...

When I was in DC, I went into a Starbucks and ordered my regular: triple grande nonfat latte. When the chick at the register took my order, she repeated it, changing it to triple grande skim latte. When the barista finished making it, he called it out: triple grande skiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiim latte. He's done that for the last three years. I want to bop him on the head, tell him we say nonfat in Atlanta, and that I much prefer the rhythm of triple grande nonfat latte. So you might hate me if I visited your bux, too.

Oh, and I pronounce it "KARE-a-mul."

Tom said...

I say KARE-a-mel. Isn't KHAR-mul a mountain in Israel? Either way, I only like it when it's bonded with so much chocolate you don't even know it's there.

barista brat said...

gwen - exactly! i'm not going to change my pronunciation because this lady has issues.

beth - haha, i know exactly the sort of barista you're talking about. at my old bux we had a guy that would say "tall lahtaaaaaaay!" and it started to bug the customers. sometimes people ask for skim or skinny lattes and i have to explain to the newbies that skim/skinny means nonfat.

tom - haha. if you ever come to my bux i will make you a carmelized mocha that will knock your socks off!

The Girl with Moxie said...

Kar-muhl is quicker to spit out when ordering, but there is something very sexy about saying KARE-uh-mel. It sounds like it might taste better than Kar-muhl.

Beth, I grew up in DC so I know what you mean about the skim = nonfat thing. I would get weird looks out here in LA for the longest time when I would ask for skim milk so I finally switched to saying "nonfat." It hadn't occurred to me that it's a regional thing, much like soda/pop/sodapop/Coke.

Glassmeow said...

Yeah...sometimes I have to 'splain "tall skinny chai tea latte" to the voice inside the drive up box. Coffee People (a formerly locally owned Bux competitor) always called skim "skinny" and I used to shop there. Like Tazo Chai better than the kind Coffee People does, so now I'm at the Bux drive through (you'll never see me write 'thru') every morning.

I hope they don't get *too* annoyed when I hand back the java jacket (a.k.a. sleeve) every morning too.

Of course I always tip well, so as not to end up ridiculed on some other barista's blog :)

Anonymous said...

i think you got the customer from waiterrant.net !

James said...

wow, i didn't know they had hillbillies in LA.

now that i think of it, i don't really know how i pronounce. it doesn't really come up in everyday conversation for me.

Anonymous said...

Being raised in the South by a northerner and an african, I don't speak the way they do down here. "Fixin' to", "yall", and "care-uh-mel" are the only southernisms I've adopted.

But it's spelled caramel. Don't ignore the middle child, er, syllable. Ok, fine - the rest of the country says it differently, and that's cool. But you're not within your rights to insinuate that your pronunciation is superior or better, or to correct those who pronounce it the way it's spelled.