Monday, November 22, 2010

Service with a Smile, Rewarded

The new guy at Naidre's, Gatlin Hardy, always has a smile when I walk in. He seems genuinely pleased and upbeat, always ready for an amiable chat. When I complimented him on his attitude, he just laughed.

"It's what got me fired from my last job," he said. "They didn't like it. The guy said, 'You laugh too much, and you spend too much time with the customers.' I reacted poorly when he said that, I guess. I laughed."

His reaction was perfect, I thought, perfectly worthy of a gold star. He has found a place that allows him to his be his playful fun self instead of just a productive robot.

"I love that you guys are all so chatty, always willing to go there. And I don't even mind if it means I sometimes have to wait..." I said.

Gatlin nodded. "The regulars feel that way," he said.

I laughed. I could recall a variety of non-regulars impatiently waiting behind me as I caught up with one or another of the boys behind the counter. "I have seen some people who come in and get frustrated and walk out," I said.

Naidre's would not be the place for someone in a hurry. I never used to go there in the days I had to rush into the city for work, in the days I had only the desire but not the time to stop and make friends with baristas. I think of that often, that different pace, that different priority. It is what makes me loath to be too busy. It is so important to take the time to tune in to the people you encounter, to allow them a moment to tune in to you. I have found that a good laugh goes a long way, farther even than a latte maybe, toward making a good morning. To help someone do that, to do that yourself, should be raise-worthy, gold star-worthy, certainly not a fireable offense.

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