no sweet tea!

“Here’s your sweet tea.”
“Oh, I ordered coffee.”
“We don’t have coffee today.”
“So, you just poured me sweet tea?” (in the nicest possible voice I could muster)

That is a real exchange I had with a probably otherwise decent young lady this past weekend. It’s not her fault she was working behind the counter at the local Bojangles I’ve since dubbed “unworthy of carrying the Bojangles name”. I know she had no control over whether the coffee pot was working, or whether the woman who rang up my order let me know it was broken and I might need to be prepared to make another selection. So I obviously didn’t get angry with her. It always confuses me when people become very angry with food service employees who are entirely disconnected from the issue at hand. Honestly, they’re usually just kids trying to get through another workday.

There’s a bigger problem here: In the South it’s almost safe to assume that anyone who orders coffee will be perfectly happy with a sweet tea substitute. It’s almost safe.

I don’t like to admit this in public, since I have been accused of not really being Southern for this, but I hate sweet tea.

[Pause for Shock]

I’m sorry, I think it’s disgusting. To me it tastes like someone is trying to cover up the bitterness of tea but they didn’t quite make it. Or worse, they tried too hard and now we’re drinking syrup. After years of arguing my point with people saying things like — “well, you haven’t tried MY mom’s sweet tea” and “I guess North Carolina just isn’t really Southern” — I finally realized my opinions on Sweet Tea have no bearing on where I’m from – what a relief.

Here’s my bottom line: Coffee is nectar of the gods. Coffee wakes me up. Coffee doesn’t add a billion ridiculous sugar calories to my morning. Coffee is universally served at breakfast time. Sweet tea is not a substitute for this. It never will be.

But the truth is, this isn’t just about a caffeine fix. This is a real issue and someone needs to take a stand. Tomorrow’s election day, does anyone know where our Southern politicians fall on the real issues – the sweet tea issues?

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