A man working as a ‘barista’ at a branch of Starbucks in Huddersfield has become the first European to spontaneously turn into an American. This phenomenon had been long predicted by biologists, even though many others thought that the huge separation between Europe and America in terms of thousands of miles of ocean and such primary biological traits such as irony, self-deprecation and – on the American side – confidence and correctly-shaped white teeth, made it almost impossible.
‘It’s no surprise that the first spontaneous nationality switch has happened in a coffee shop,’ said Professor Stephen Tucker of the University of Birmingham. ‘We believe that the strain of enforced professionalism, coupled with the insane levels of customer choice on offer, might have proved too much for the poor man’s brain. It’s a form of cognitive overload.’
Most people can ‘hold’ three characteristics in their minds simultaneously, such as coffee or tea, black or white and with or without sugar. The British brain evolved in an environment where these were the only choices required. However, baristas in American coffee houses are routinely juggling dozens of slight variations on categories while simultaneously encouraging complete strangers to ‘have a nice day’ in a non-ironic way, even in Huddersfield.
‘I doubt whether anybody’s ever had a nice day there, and certainly not while selecting a skinny double-shot extra-vanilla latte,’ Tucker said. ‘We urgently need to get these people into an MRI scanner and see what’s going on inside their brains.’
Early experiments were inconclusive after a woman from Wolverhampton was asked to picture a double skinny vanilla spice moccacino while having a nice day. Unfortunately for Tucker and his research team, her head exploded and wrecked the scanner. ‘We’d buy a new one but they’re very expensive and, of course, Starbucks don’t trouble themselves paying taxes, so there’s no money in the pot. I’d describe this as ironic but there’s really no point.’