Caffeine & Forgiveness

A few months ago, you may recall this tiny fiasco at Starbucks, when I was unceremoniously booted from the premises on the one day I had not purchased a Starbucks product. (Not a stand-alone store, I reiterate, but a kiosk in the public lobby of a building not owned by Starbucks). My post must have been seen by someone at Starbucks, because I received a few free drink coupons and several profuse apologies for the way I was treated soon thereafter. I was also contacted by the Regional Manager who asked for details on the visit, which I gladly provided.

A genuine apology goes a long way with me, and I’d forgiven Starbucks for the foible, but I stayed away from their stores all summer because the friendly nature the company has always gone out of its way to cultivate had been dispelled – most likely by an isolated downtown Albany employee, but dispelled nonetheless. I held onto the drink certificates until this week, when I ventured into the same Starbucks.

On my first trip back, there were two new baristas working. I ordered an expensive salted caramel mocha (hey, I’m not going to waste a coupon on a plain coffee) and sat down right near where I had been asked to leave a few months earlier. I finished my drink and left, unbothered.

The next day I returned, and the employee who had been next to me when I was told to leave took my order. She called me by name (I hadn’t thought she’d known my name) and apologized for what had happened last time. I thanked her for that, and said it was fine. (Usually when I say something is fine, it is decidedly anything but fine, but this time I meant it.)

Forgiveness doesn’t come easy for me, but over the last few years I’ve gotten better at it. This trivial matter may be further proof of that. (And proof of the power of the written word. Don’t ever be silent if you’re treated unfairly. Yes, a sizable social media presence can help, but even without that you can write to company executives, regional managers, and everyone all the way up to the CEO. That’s the beauty of living in this country. Make the most of it.)

As for Starbucks, it’s always been an admirable company and has consistently done good things with its money and power. The fact that several people reached out to me to discuss what happened and worked to rectify it are indicative that the company does in fact care. Because of that, I feel good about patronizing their business again. (A gift card and the return of holiday drink offerings helps too.)

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