Les Petits Contes

About life's little observations, which matter. About hilarious situations, which illuminate. About stories which offer immense possibilities, open endings, different interpretations and perspectives.

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Location: Singapore

A nature lover; sun-worshipper, manic book-collector, dessert-devourer and a magnet for hazards

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

An Ordinary Saturday, an Ordinary Encounter

Most people will wonder why I wax lyrical over Starbucks.

Well, no, not any Starbucks, but the one quiet one at Capital Tower, on Saturday mornings.

I go there almost every Saturday morning after my yoga to revise Italian and do my homework.

I am usually greeted warmly by those who recognise me. One of them, a sweet and friendly girl, actually asked two weeks ago if I really wanted a double-shot of espresso – she remembers I normally have single shots.

Last week, as I was wondering where to sit, she pointed out, ‘’how about there? You usually sit there.’’

On previous occasions I would also chat with her other colleagues who would ask about my yoga, the food I liked at Starbucks, the new suppliers they are using…. Once I even gave them feedback on the music they played. (‘’No worries, just let us know and I’ll change the music for you,’’ the bespectacled friendly guy assured)

Yes, this Starbucks is eccentric. Sometimes they play soothing music, sometimes heavy metal (try doing your homework in the empty café with such music on), sometimes even Christmas songs (when Christmas was months away).

Last Saturday, I asked for double shot of espresso in my latte again. ‘’You are very sleepy again? Poor thing, you have to study every Saturday. I know how it feels – to work and study at the same time; I used to do it too,’’ the sweet girl said as she took my orders.

I ordered something new to eat and she remembered the feedback I gave last week about a new sandwich they introduced (it was delicious, except the bread was over-toasted). ‘’Oh yes, I gave management your feedback, and we have adjusted the toaster settings.’’

My boss recently commented that he never gets a single feedback about the big projects his team implemented. He was not looking for praises, but he simply wondered if people - his bosses, his peers, his internal customers - noticed in the first place? True, he would know if his team goofs up – he would get angry calls, emails, whatever. But if things are well done (or at least an improvement over the previous attempts), they go unnoticed, un-commented, and perhaps un-appreciated.

No matter how ordinary things are, it’s nice to be appreciated, remembered or simply noticed.

The sweet girl and that bespectacled guy at Starbucks may be just doing their job earning a living like you and me. And I may be just going to an ordinary café that has been so successfully ‘’globalised and standardised worldwide’’.

But they sure do welcome a friendly chat on a quiet Saturday morning, and especially feedback on their food.

As I left for my Italian class last week, I handed her the new ‘’Gems’’ card that Singapore has introduced in the name of encouraging good service. (You write the person’s name and your own on the card and give it to him or her if you think she has given excellent service).

I told her I still have not got round to asking for her name, still here’s a card for her, and by the way, the pastry was delicious!

She thanked me and invited me to the Natas travel fair. Lots of good deals there… her full time job is actually in a travel agency, she said.

Wow. A full time job on weekdays and a part time job early on Saturday mornings, with such a cheerful disposition to boot. Keep smiling, girl!


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