It was a mundane Monday morning. The doors to the coffee shop had just been opened for business, and customers were starting to trickle in. This morning was a classic “lather, rinse, repeat” scenario.
While I brewed the coffees, and prepped the whipped creams, another employee stocked the fridge, and spot swept the floor. It seemed the morning was already dragging along, perhaps I needed an extra day off this week. One after another, the regulars dropped in to get their fix. It was so predictable and repetitive, I was already starting the infamous countdown to my lunch…then that one customer comes in.
That customer who hangs out all morning, takes advantage of the free refills, and uses up all of our the bandwidth playing his computer games. The customer who never bothers to shower, brush his teeth, or put on respectable clothes. Yes, he’s the one I try to avoid every morning.
As I hold my my breath, he pulls out his debit card to pay for his cup. While I slide his card through the reader, I fight the urge to comment about his awful odor excreting from his body.
I think to myself, how does this guy remember his bank card, but forget the soap aisle at CVS? He walks away with his cup of coffee as I inhale a much needed breath of air. Why does he live like that? For some strange reason, I pondered his lifestyle choice a little longer this morning. A few minutes later, out of nowhere I hear, “Hey, can I talk to you for a minute?” Startled, I turn around to see he’d come back to the counter…maybe he saw me holding my breath.
He continued saying “I normally don’t share my opinions, but you seem to know how to handle complaints.”
I finally give up, and give the man a chance. He went on saying, “I’ve been coming here for 10 years, and I have seen a lot of managers run this place. You do a pretty darn good job, and I appreciate how hard you work.”
By this time, I was knee deep in this conversation. Somehow he’d won me over with his compliment.
As I listened, he continued to tell me, “I think it’s really important to figure out how to keep your coffee constantly mixed, and here’s why. When the empty insulated coffee pot sits cold all night, the first brew of coffee is much different than when the pot is already hot. The explanation to this is simple. When the internal atmospheric environment of the pot is cools from sitting out all night, the hot coffee separates when you brew into it…especially the darker, oilier coffees.
What this means is, half of your customers get ridiculously burnt tasting coffee, while the other half get the watery leftovers. I know this may sound like a bunch of gibberish to you, but I used to be a chemical engineer. This is the kind of stuff we do for a living.
Take it with a grain of Splenda, but I myself don’t enjoy reading ‘burnt coffee’ reviews on Yelp when it’s not true.”
Photo Credit: Public Domain Pictures
With my jaw dropped, and the line growing, I find myself staring at him in disbelief!
This guy? The guy I try to avoid every day? The man who gets multiple refills because he technically can?
I can’t believe it! In a matter of a few short sentences, this man completely shifted my perception on the very topic I was there to educate him about. Suddenly, there was nothing mundane about today at all. Forget about lunch altogether, I wasn’t hungry anymore!
As I listened to him explain more in depth, I replayed this morning’s interaction in my head. How did this valuable information just fall in my lap? Why did any of this make sense, and why did he choose me for this feedback?
He’s supposed to be “that customer I don’t like,” not that customer who just effectively added value to my business and my life. Where was this yesterday, or the day before, or two months ago? Was I conveniently busy every time he tried to get my attention? Was I too wrapped up in judging him, I missed his previous attempts? Maybe I deserved those bad reviews on Yelp.
That day, I was reminded once again, of the precious gold element in each of us waiting to shared with those who deserve to experience it. Sometimes it’s in pretty showcases at Tiffany’s, other times we have to dig for it. As I stood at the espresso machine steaming the next customer’s latte milk, a huge wave of humbleness rolled in. While I was too busy disregarding him, he was patiently waiting to share his valuable gold.
So often, information gets tossed aside just because the people giving it don’t fit our specifications. When people value you, they’ll reveal that special secret gold element about them. If we’re too busy putting them into a “lower category,” we’ll never get the chance to know why they value us.