My ears did a double-take a couple of months ago when a customer at the Starbucks on Lexington and 40th ordered something called “a black guy.” The cashier repeated “black guy” to the barista, so I knew I had heard correctly. When I noticed others order this drink a day or two later, I became curious, and asked Frank, the cashier, “What’s a ‘black guy’?”
“It’s two shots,” he replied.
My jaw dropped. “You mean, like…?”
“Yeah,” Frank laughed, miming two blows to his head. “Two shots!”
I was mortified. A simple double espresso had taken on a racially offensive and violent nickname, and Starbucks was laughingly going along with it. It bothered me deeply, and for weeks I considered writing to the company. But what could I ask them to do?
I’m glad I didn’t write that letter. The other day, I ordered a venti dark roast with a shot of espresso. The cashier, in Starbucks’ typical passive-aggressive practice of rewording every order, called out to the barista: “A venti bold red eye.”
“What’s a ‘red eye’?” I inquired.
“A red eye is an extra shot,” she explained. “A black eye is two shots; a purple eye, three shots.”