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Jackson Goes to Starbucks, Realizes Why People Hate Lawyers

The author, a lawyer, learns from Starbucks why people hate his kind.

Coma patients should receive transfusions of my blood. Enough caffeine is coursing through my veins at any given moment that my blood could probably literally wake the dead. My addiction to coffee is so bad that I wake up in the mornings feeling hung over and more angry than a grizzly being poked by a stick. When I go to my office, the assistants scatter like cockroaches if they know I have yet to get my fix. Methamphetamine users have an easier time quitting than I would giving up coffee.

I am a coffee a snob like many people are with wine. I prefer robust, dark roasts and get pissy when I'm forced to drink watered down light roasts. The perfect cup of coffee can be found at Starbucks, and I am generally annoyed around the holidays when the company does not send me a gift in recognition of spending so much of my income at their establishments. Now, I know there is a debate amongst many as to whether Starbucks has the best cup of coffee or whether Dunkin' Donuts actually has the best cup of coffee. To those of you who prefer Dunkin' Donuts, I have only one thing to say to you: You. Are. Wrong.

As much as I love their coffee, Starbucks is by no means perfect. Let me share with you what annoys me about Starbucks: the beverages that are everything but coffee. You know the drinks I am talking about: Venti skinny no whip caramel macchiato. Grande extra whip no syrup cinnamon dolce latte. Orange mango banana Vivanno smoothie with extra whip. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. I order coffee, not just because I love coffee, but also because even attempting to order these other concoctions makes my tongue knot, eyes cross, and brain hurt. I presume the language in which I am ordering the drink is English, but I have absolutely no idea what any of it means.

It occurs to me as I sit writing this in my favorite Starbucks that the same things that annoy me about the coffee company annoy many about lawyers. That is, we’re expensive and often don’t make any sense. It’s not our fault for the most part. In law school, we learn a language called “Legalese.” It’s a bastardized and pretentious version of English that the folks at Rosetta Stone haven’t developed a program for yet. The language ruins our ability to communicate with so-called normal people and angers our friends and family when we use it. Have you ever told your wife to “please comply forthwith?” I highly recommend that you don’t. 

You see, after three years of the linguistic odyssey known as law school, most lawyers can’t help themselves any longer. Good lawyers know that the key to client service and persuading a jury is to talk with said people as if they are actually people. To use English. But, all joking aside, we lawyers are people; imperfect people with hard to break language habits drilled into us by precedent and a profession steeped in tradition. In my days as a trial lawyer, I saw lawyers in depositions act like American tourists in a non-English speaking country:

Lawyer: Please describe with particularity the events comprising the incident described in your Complaint.

Deponent: I don’t think I understand the question.

Lawyer: PLEASE…DESCRIBE…WITH…PAR-TIC-U-LAR-ITY…THE…EVENTS…COMPRISING…THE…IN-CI-DENT…DESCRIBED…IN…YOUR…COMPLAINT!

Rather than translating the Legalese (e.g., “Tell me what happened”), the lawyer thinks it will be beneficial and an understanding of the “language” will suddenly be achieved if they just talk louder and slower to the person. To treat the person as if they were deaf and dumb.

Despite the linguistic similarities, people for some reason flock to Starbucks despite the bastardized and pretentious version of English they prosthelytize throughout the world. Have you ever tried to order something at a Starbucks in regular English? It's impossible. One morning in my half-asleep stupor I said "medium" instead of "Grande." The bitchy, indignant look from the clerk (a.k.a., "barista" in Starbucksian) conveyed my transgression without words. It said: "I would have been less offended if you took your morning dump on the counter."

Since it can take several minutes to complete an order in Starbucksian, a barista must ask people standing ten deep in line "Can I get something started for you?" When I order just plain, hot black coffee I get a quizzical look as the barista struggles to remember that Starbucks actually sells coffee. Unfortunately, most of the time when I finally arrive at the counter to retrieve the coffee that took 0.05 seconds to pour, it is starting to cool because I had to wait behind the twenty people ordering their heragroardings (Okay, I'll admit that "heragroarding" is not a real word. It's okay though, because most of the menu is not real coffee.).Therein lies the other problem with Starbucks: like lawyers, they are busy and take forever to do anything, and you rarely get everything exactly how you wanted.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than storiesspace.com with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © This work has been copyrighted upon its publication by Michael S. Rothrock. All rights reserved. The complete work, nor any portion thereof, may not be reprinted, reproduced, redistributed, or republished without the express written consent of the copyright holder. Violators may be subject to a legal mess.

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