I am in a silent war against a giant, fighting desperately to maintain the last vestiges of my privacy. I am bound to lose this one.
Goes like this: Every morning, as has been my routine since Starbucks first opened on Long Island in 1994, I stop at one of 5 or 6 shops that are on my way to work. Like most of you, I always order the same thing. For me, it’s a tall, nonfat, no-foam latte. I pay the $3.10 with my debit card and decline a receipt. That’s when things get delicate.
“Your name for the cup?’’ asks a barista, always polite, always crisp and efficient.
“I don’t want to give my name,’’ say I, without attitude.
“Well, we have to have your name for the cup,’’ is the comeback nine times out of 10.
“No, just the coffee, please.’’ Attitude rising.
In Manhasset, Great Neck, Melville and Farmingdale, my wishes usually prevail, mostly (for reasons I can’t explain) when it is a male barista. In Roslyn Heights, I have been turned away, credit card given back and kicked to the anonymous curb. No mornin' Joe there anymore.
I am by nature a compliant person. And really, what difference does it make if someone calls out my name at a Starbucks? Or if I use my dog’s name or my daughter’s initials?
But in the last few years, I have had my identity stolen at the bank, my computer hacked at home, my writings bandied about the Internet, unauthorized photos of me posted on Facebook and have been rendered powerless by the tech/marketing world order that knows the last five things I’ve ordered on eBay.
Why can't Starbucks just be a place where nobody knows my name?