December 21, 2009

Don't Get Between a Man and His Coffee

I'll save you the long story. The short story is that it really is too much bother to make coffee for myself in the mornings, so I stop at Holiday and get it on the way to work. The advantage of getting coffee at Holiday is that they have this very nice cream dispenser/chiller, so you can get just the right amount of half and half.  My coffee has to be just so - cream and sugar, in the right amounts. Not too sweet, not too creamy, not too bitter. Just right. After all, if you really expect me to be pleasant on a Monday morning, this part of the ritual better go off without a hitch... because if the coffee ain't right, who knows what is going to happen when you get me on the phone.

So this morning I went into my usual Holiday Station Store on Spenard Road. I have been going there for years - the people that work there are very pleasant and efficient. I am always greeted, and there's usually some good-natured joking or a smart-assed comment, though I dish it as well as take it. When I come in the mornings, there is often a line at the register, and because I am both considerate and observant, when I see the coffee cup dispenser empty, I'll grab a sleeve of cups and restock for them. There's no sense in interrupting a busy person to restock cups, when I can do it just as easily, and it is faster.

What can I say - I like to help.

Recently there has been some turnover and rearrangement of shifts. The people that I have known there for years seem to have disappeared, so I have been "training" the new folks to make sure that they get everything just right - at least, just right for me. This morning - Monday morning - I went in, and there was no sugar. One of the employees happened to be standing there at the coffee bar, and I asked her if there was any sugar. She looked around in the usual places, and couldn't find any. She looked at the shelves, and there were several boxes of sugar there, but she made it clear that she couldn't just take a box of sugarthat was meant for retail sale off the shelf and open it for a customer. I would have to ask at the counter.

So I did.

Justin was at the cash register. I asked him, "Excuse me, do you have any sugar?"

(blank stare) "Um, no, we're out."

"There is some on the shelf over there..."

"We can't use those..."

 Monday morning. No coffee. Stupid employee. Wrong answer.

The whole time I had been holding an empty styrofoam cup, expecting to fill it with exactly the right proportions of sugar, coffee, then cream, then top it off with coffee... but those plans were now shot, since THERE WAS NO SUGAR. I walked back to the coffee bar.  I firmly placed my cup back on the bar. I was disgusted with the service and the situation, and angry that I was going to have to go find my coffee elsewhere. The first employee, who had directed me  to the counter in the first place, was still there, and she could tell I was miffed.

As I turned to walk out the door, I looked at the shelf again, and saw the boxes of sugar. It is amazing that on a Monday morning, without coffee, I was able to be inspired, but I was. I decided to pick up the box of sugar, take it to the register, and offer to purchase it... and at that point, Justin would recognize the error of his ways, open the sugar and let me have some.

receipt(blank stare) "Would you like a receipt?"

(loudly) "Why yes, I would like a receipt." I would need the receipt when they graciously offered to refund my money.

I took my newly-purchased two-pound box of sugar back to the coffee bar, and prepared my coffee just-so. After I was done taking my small amount of sugar, I set the box down, where it was immediately snatched up by another customer.

Clearly there was a need for sugar.

I went back to the counter with my coffee, and without my box of sugar, which I had just donated to the store. Here's where I thought that Justin would get a clue. How hard could this be, the store manager was standing right behind him, and had heard the whole exchange? All he had to do was turn around and explain the situation to his manager, the manager would take  three bucks out of his pocket, pay for the sugar and instruct Justin to refund me. I was about to get my coffee, a refund, and an apology.

Boy was I wrong.

(blank stare) "Would you like a receipt?"

"Yes, I would." I was indignant. "... and let me give you a little lesson in marketing. You don't ever... EVER... let a customer walk out of your store when they come in to buy something, just because you're out of sugar. You had the sugar right there on the shelf.

"That's stupid."

Justin didn't say a word. Either did his manager.

A great start to a Monday morning.

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