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Yes, even the evil behemoth Starbucks can be subverted.

Every Starbucks has somewhere near the counter a table laden with wooden stirrers, napkins, cream... and thermoses of milk to be added, supposedly, to legitimately purchased coffee. Often, there are also shakers full of cinnamon, cocoa, and vanilla powder to flavor said legitimately purchased coffee. Some Starbucks (I point to the one in Long Beach as the most extreme example I've seen) also have at this table an urn full of hot water.

So, swipe a cup from the stack behind the counter -- distracted salepeople are entirely unlikely to care -- or bring your own, and have Starbucks treat you to a tall, cold glass of milk, or hot cocoa, or any weirder combination of flavors and liquids. And toast to urban scavenging.

Incidentally, this is increasingly possible at many faux-indie chain book or music store-cafés, such as Borders or Tower.

Not to disparage our urban scavenger, but having worked at starbucks for several months in the past, I feel I must make this heard.

YOU CAN GET FREE STUFF AT STARBUCKS IF YOU ASK FOR IT. Each barista has his or her own quota of free samples. Often, there will be a tray of pastry samples on the counter. Officially, each Starbucks cafe is supposed to give 100 free samples per day. Also, if a barista makes the wrong drink, or makes extra, it is offered to anyone who happens to be in the store. If you just stand around long enough, you WILL get a free drink.

In addition to this, Starbucks has a "just say yes" policy regarding customer complaints. This means that if you tell the barista that your drink is wrong, you will get a refund. Usually you will also receive a coupon for a free drink. (Hint, hint).

Since I personally am tired of hearing people complain about gas prices and then paying seventy dollars per gallon for decaf, I thought I'd post these helpful hints. This could have gotten me fired, if they hadn't fired me already. Next week's lesson: gas siphoning.

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