I am not a person who goes to Starbucks very often. That being said, the other day it was warm out and I decided to treat myself so I pulled into the drive thru of a local Starbucks for a mocha frappuccino.
In our busy world of fast food, there’s a routine that’s fairly consistent. We pull up to speak our order to the person behind the screen. Then we pull around to the window, pay for our order, then wait in line to pull to the next window to receive what we’ve ordered.
Easy. Routine. Expected.
So when I pulled up to order at the Starbucks screen I heard:
“Good afternoon. Welcome to Starbucks. How may I begin your order today?”
At first I was a bit astonished because I’m so used to the voice at the other end of the screen being a bit frazzled and curt. Yet her voice was soothing, patient and happy.
“Good afternoon! I’d like a medium (or whatever you call that size) mocha frappuccino please and that’s it.”
“Of course. What a perfect treat for a sunny day! Please pull around to the window.”
“Ok, thank you.”
I put my car into drive and moved to the window. As I rolled up to the Starbucks’ window, the glass slid open and a young woman (probably in her early 20’s) leaned out and smiled at me. She had blonde and purple hair with a floral top on.
“Hi,” she beamed at me with a smile.
“Hi,” I answered back, expecting that she would immediately tell me how much I owed for the order and we’d move on. I mean, this is a drive thru and people are always in a hurry these days.
“Excuse me for a moment,” and she turned away to take the order from the next car in line, just as politely as she had taken mine. Then she turned back to me.
“How are you?”
I stammered. I mean, this wasn’t what I was expecting. Was this a social call?
“I’m doing ok thank you. How are you?”
“I’m doing great today The sun is shining and all is well.”
“That’s terrific. I like the way you’re thinking. You’re right. It is a beautiful day out.”
“Excuse me again,” she said as she took the next order. I watched her speak with a smile to the next person in line. It struck me that she really liked her job.
She turned back to me and continued to chat. I was still stunned that we were continuing to have this casual conversation and she still hadn’t told me how much I owed for my order. She was completely relaxed even though there were cars behind me and the place was obviously busy. I was holding the bills in my hand because I didn’t know how much the drink was. I raised my hand to show her the money in hopes that she’d tell me how much I owed and I could pay for my order.
Then it struck me. What’s up with me? I wasn’t in a hurry and yet here I was, chomping at the bit (horse vocab intended) to get on with it. To pay, to receive and to move out of the way so that the next car could pull up to get their order. I was not really in a rush and yet, here I was acting like I was because I was so attuned to the fast food mentality of rushing through life. Yet, here was someone who was completely at ease in a stressful situation and I was not.
She smiled at me again and continued to talk as if we were old friends. Was I the only one aware that the minutes were ticking by? We were both looking at each other and it was then that I realized that we were connecting as humans and not as mechanical robots. She took one more order and then turned back to me.
“Your order comes to $,” she finally said, smiling even more.
I counted out the bills and handed them over to her. She handed the change back to me still smiling.
“I’m sorry I was frazzled when I pulled up to the window. I wasn’t expecting us to have a conversation. It’s usually not done that way.”
“I know. You did look a bit frazzled but look, now you’re more relaxed.”
Smiling a huge grin, I laughed as she handed me the drink.
“You’re right. Thank you for making my day brighter.”
“You’re so welcome. I’m glad we connected. I hope you have a lovely day. Enjoy your treat!”
I reached back into my wallet and handed her a tip.
“Thank you for your unique way of being. This was really lovely.”
“You are so welcome. You’re not the first person to be caught off guard when I talk with them. I find it makes the job more fun to meet everyone and to connect with them, even if only for a few minutes. I hope it makes someone else’s day better when they feel that I really see them and we connect. You never know what’s going on with anyone, but I find that trying to brighten someone’s day makes all the difference.”
“Well, you certainly brightened mine. Thank you for your kindness.”
We both smiled again and I waved to her as I pulled away, still aware of the line of cars behind me. Yet, the funny thing was that none were beeping. They seemed to all be patiently waiting their turns. Perhaps it was because they knew that the girl behind the counter would be giving each of them her full attention for a few moments of connection.
As I drove away, sipping that delicious concoction, it tasted even better. I opened the sunroof and let in the wind and sunshine. I turned up the volume as the music enveloped my soul.
I silently thanked that purple-haired angel at Starbucks for her sweet reminder.
Connections make all the difference.