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Excellence at Milepost 171, the Garden State Parkway

It’s late Saturday night, driving home to Connecticut from Aberdeen, New Jersey, 2 hours still to goI stop for gas and wait in a long line.  Finally at the pump, the attendant there on the passenger side, tells me that the nozzle will not reach my gas tank on the driver side, though there is clearly enough hose  to wrap around an 18-wheeler if need be, and despite the fact that many cars before me had their gas tanks similarly situated. With dismissive twirls of his index finger, he motions for me to loop around to the pumps opposite.  I find myself again at the end of a long line.

Finally, fully serviced and $50+ poorer, I sense that 2 hours is a long way to go without going, so I park to make use of the restrooms in the food-court adjacent the pumps.  Once inside, I sense that I have entered a netherworld of sorts, dimly lit buzzing fluorescence, creatures shuffling about on sticky floors, the smell of old gym in the air.  I do what I need to, quickly.

As I’m about to leave the area, I notice a Starbucks nestled in the corner by the exit, bathed in a gold light, its green logo warm and inviting.  This post is for the 2 men, late teens or early 20’s, who were keeping the faith behind the counter that Saturday night.

Kudos to both of you.  Congratulations for excellent service and for upholding the brand .  I raise my Americano, to the way you handled the two little girls in front of me, along with their parents, personalizing their cups, playfully revealing the recipe of their vanilla lattes like it was a secret formula,  up-selling the Dad on a sleeve of cookies, and displaying extra care in securing the drinks in the cardboard tray.  They left feeling special; you made it fun.  Thank you for the small talk, and for asking if I wanted an extra shot of espresso, on the house.  I left the area feeling real good about you guys – yet I knew you less than 5 minutes – for your attention to the seemingly trivial details and for the honest pride you took in your work, even if that work was slinging cups of Joe @ Milepost 171.

From the Barista’s job posting:

A Starbucks barista.

  • Acts with integrity, honesty and knowledge that promote the culture, values and mission of Starbucks.
  • Anticipates customer and store needs by constantly evaluating environment and customers for cues.
  • Delivers customer service to all customers by acting with a customer comes first attitude and connecting with the customer. Discovers and responds to customer needs.

© Michael C. Simonelli,, 2013