California And Coffee Shops

We're off to San Francisco next week for our friends' wedding. So I may not be posting on my usual Monday to Thursday schedule (um, I've also slipped a bit this week, so posting today instead of yesterday). But I am planning to post when I can next week. San Francisco is one of the loveliest cities in the world so I'm sure it may inspire some thoughts.

But before I head off, I'd like to tell you a little story about last time I was there. As our friends (the ones who are getting married) led us around SF, we were shocked to see how low Starbucks seems to have fallen in the coffee league tables. We were told by our friends that everyone is drinking Peet's coffee now.

It's strong stuff. Good for jet lag, definitely.

But my experience there was alarming. First, I was totally flabbergasted when at the till (Cash register? What is it called in America?) I was asked my name. Now, if you're American, let me fill you in on something about England. Asking a stranger's name is considered a very personal question.

I know this sounds strange, but it kind of makes sense. It's OK to chat to someone on the train platform when there's a serious delay, but you don't step over that threshold from stranger to friend. The fact that I'm defending this policy may mean I have been in England too long (8.5 years now). So that was the second alarming fact.

The reason that they ask your name is so that when your coffee/sandwich/etc. is ready they don't have to call out your order for you to retrieve it. Instead they can just shout your name.

So the third alarming thing that crossed my mind has to do with my pretty unusual name. When the nice Peet's Coffee lady asked me for it, I nearly stammered. I knew I would have to spell it and then it might – no, definitely would – result in a discussion of how my parents came to name me Taron. I just couldn't stomach the whole palaver. Again, very English.

Instead of my name, I answered, "Karen" and then felt a little bit like a liar. Which I was. But still, it made the whole thing a lot easier. If we ever happen to move to San Francisco I'm going to have to definitely use this strategy at every food establishment. Or else I might stop going out of the house.

I think the conclusion here is that I need a good injection of American culture. It's not like I'm a shy retiring person or anything. But since we're not moving back anytime soon, a week (or a little over it) is going to have to do for now.

I'll hopefully speak to you next week when I've got over the 11-hour flight and am emerging from the jet lag haze.

Have a good weekend.


  1. Nice post Tarps, but I'm going to ask the question as I don't think I've heard the reason you're a Taron? A little weird since I know why your nickname is Tarps.
    Also, for some reason people hear Damian as Daniel, like A LOT. Since my surname is too convoluted that i need to spell it every time I can rarely be arsed to correct people about my given name anymore.
    Or I'll just say "Dave" :)

    Have a nice Holiday!

  2. Tan -
    No joke, this is the first time I've checked out your blog, and great timing. We moved to San Francisco a few months ago. We've got to get together while you're here. It would be great to see you and Neil and you can meet my kids!

    Also, just my opinion but Peet's as the new Starbucks is kind of lame. Martha Bros. is a pretty good local chain, or there are plenty of great local coffee shops around the city.

    Safe travels - Aaron

  3. Dave (!) - glad to hear someone has as much trouble as me! As for the 'Taron' story, my parents couldn't agree on a name and they liked Aaron and Sharon and Karen but wanted something different, so tacked a T on the beginning. I believe my Dad takes credit for the creation.

    And speaking of Aarons, thanks for stopping by the blog and getting in touch - have sent you an email about meeting up this week. Hope it works out we can see you and Laiza and the kids (and hopefully at a local establishment and not a Peet's or Starbucks)!


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