“Here you go, Gregory. Can I call you Gregory?”
– Kuan, Starbucks Employee
I love my iced grande lattes. A lil too much. They are made with just the right measure of coffee to milk ratio. Always the perfect end to a long lunch. The all important pick-me-up solution. Granted they set me back by rm11 each time, it’s really hard to find any other substitutes. Ipoh White Coffee is kinda thick. Chinese coffeeshop and mamak stalls usually pre-make them and they taste abysmal, like the coffee beans has been tortured or something. I do miss my warm Hudsons Coffee from downunder but you kinda yearn for the cold stuff in this malaysian climate.
Yet it’s not really the product that entices me to swipe my HSBC card with reckless abandon. (granted it does give me 10x gift redemption points) I used to care only on how good stuff taste or the functionality of what you’re selling me. Interestingly enough as I get older, I pay attention to the all important intangible – SERVICE. I really do notice whether or not the places I go to really do invest in this area. I guess I’m a sucker for good service and at the same time, would absolutely bring the name of your company down till kingdom come if you dared show me anything less than satisfactory. It feels like porn to me, just so orgasmic when someone does get it “right”.
Not many companies really get this kinda close to perfect but for the few that do, Starbucks would be at the top. Specifically at Jaya One. Where I decided to spend my afternoon while waiting for my car to be serviced. (I might as well put Honda up there too, cos I’m equally impressed with them)
So they have Jewish roots. I remember a couple of weeks ago, I attended a meeting to campaign against the war in Gaza, suggestion was made for a boycott initiative. Big banners stating, “To kill a Palestinian, Go eat McDonald’s” or something like that. Im not reallly into the whole boycotting deal. It’s like telling the whole country not to drink Coke and start scrunitizing everything they consume with the question, “Is this Jewish?” You might as well sabotage the US and don’t consume anything at all. Doesn’t make sense to me these efforts. Better off spreading the message of non-violence and fighting injustice in other ways.
Back to my coffee.
The lady at the counter greets me with a smile and a nice cheer for the morning. There is just such an enthusiasm in her, not overtly pretentious but just the right tone to project her sincerity. (granted she might be hitting on me) She takes my credit card, swipes it and decided to refer to me by name. I wasn’t responding with the appreciation she deserves but I nodded purposely with approval. I like to act suave at my favourite joint, showing familiarity with its procedures.
Taking my magic java potion, I rest myself nicely on the couch and spend the rest of my afternoon reading. Another Starbucks dude glances from behind the counter and checks whether I needed a cup of water. Finally he brings one to me on his own accord. Moments later when I’m finished with that cup, he asks if I needed a refill.
Damn… this place is on drugs or what. If every Starbucks outlet could match this, they will destroy all competition even in this economic climate. They are calling everyone by name and showing true service with smile. It is through gestures like this that make me wanna hang out in their joint. I’ll definitely try to fulfill one of my 100 things to do – be a barista for a day, right here.
Thank you, for giving me a drink to quench my thirst and providing warmth to the soul. I feel at home, as I go through my devotions, writing thoughts down with the sound of jazz playing at the background. This is not a new revelation for me, it’s a reiteration of what I’ve known about you for a while. We human beings need places like this, for conversations among friends, spaces for solitude and reflection on life.
Or just be still and enjoy that refreshing iced latte.