The lesson here should be: ask before you guzzle.
The morning after my high school reunion and I stood in line at my regular Starbucks for my morning cuppa. The night before I’d pranced around the dance floor like a teenager and now my middle aged body was paying the price. Three Advils so far and everything still ached. I felt weak. Depleted. I needed sustenance. Replenishment. Above and beyond the obvious coffee.
That’s when I looked down at the case and saw it. Pineapple coconut water. ZOINK!
JUST the thing I was looking for. I opened it and guzzled half the stuff down before I got to the barista. I gave no thought to price. What could it be? $2.50 – $3 at the most? Even given the Starbuck’s markup? It sure tasted nice, besides.
I got to the counter, ordered my tall coffee in a grande cup, showed the kid my half-empty bottle of pineapple coconut water, and threw down a $5.
Actually, said the barista, it’s $7. I blinked at him. He pointed to my 15.2-fluid ounces of flavored water. “That’s $5 by itself.”
“$5 for water?”
He nodded grimly.
“$5 for water.”
“Sorry,” he said. And he did look galled, but understood, as I did, that since I’d already opened and drank half the bottle, he couldn’t let me off the hook for my ignorance.
Reclaiming my jaw from the counter I slowly took my fiver back and handed him a ten, feeling a strange blend of foolishness and anger and astonishment. Very much unlike the refreshing blend of coconut and pineapple swirling in my mouth not a moment before.
“Wow, that’s a lot for WATER.”
“I know,” he said.
“You should mark the price somewhere.”
“I know,” he said. But usually people ask before they open it. And most people put it back when they find out how much it is.”
“Is it selling much?”
“We’ve got three cases in the back,” he said. “So no. It’s not selling.”
Expect to patsies like me. I held up my $5 bottle of Evolution Fresh coconut water, and took another swig.
“Enjoy it,” he said.
“Oh I will,” I said, pondering how best to enjoy a $5 bottle of water. Should I dab some behind my ears? Maybe It would make a lovely vinaigrette. Or I could sprinkle it over ripe figs like the finest balsamic. Try it as a shampoo? Soak my fingers in it? Incorporate it into sex play somehow?
The back of the bottle says that I deserve to drink something I feel good about, because it makes me feel good. I don’t really feel good about spending $5 on a bottle of flavored water, but then I didn’t ask before I guzzled. My bad. Then again, that kind of pricing structure needs to be marked front and center. So I don’t feel good about highway robbery, either.
But it’s Starbuck’s bad as well. It bought Evolution Fresh, a small juice company based in Southern California, last year, in a bid to enter the $5 billion refrigerated premium juice market. $5 water is the cheapest product they make ($8 green monster smoothie, anyone?). I can’t see it working out in this economy. But what do I know? I fell for it. Once.
What should I do with my remaining two sips of pineapple water? I’m never going to have another bottle of it, so make those suggestions count!