real people work in chains

It was 5:30 pm in Valparaiso, Indiana. We were 2 hours into a 7 hour drive. I needed wanted coffee, and we all decided to get food. We opted for the lowest common denominator fast-food restaurant.

The girl at the counter was talking with another worker as we approached. As she turned to us, I carried on the conversation she had been having about whatever it was. She laughed. I asked if the coffee was fresh. She said that she could start a new pot, ready in 2 minutes.

We all ordered. The order was filled by yet another cheerful person. We got the napkins and straws and the rest of my family got their cold drinks. I went back to the counter to wait for the coffee. The second cheerful person verified that everything was set except for my coffee.

And then a young man popped up in front of me, handed me a cup of coffee and said, “fresh from the hills of Columbia” with earnestness and good will. I laughed and thanked him and took the coffee and we walked out.  Andrew, our 21-year-old, heard the comment too. He has tremendous empathy for food servers, working in retail himself. But this, this was amazing. It was worthy of comment by both of us.

“Fresh from the hills of Columbia.” It was wacky. It was like a commercial of some sort. (I was waiting for Juan Valdez to show up). And yet it was this kid’s effort on a Friday evening at supper rush to provide great service.

It worked. I’m still smiling.


9 responses to “real people work in chains

  1. Great story. Those simple little things – if young folks (and us older folks!) would just realize how little it takes to make a great impression!

  2. It *is* the little things.
    About six months ago, I started saying thank you to every train conductor and trolley driver I saw as I got off.
    This is one little thing that I can do. Your post reminds me that it makes a difference!

  3. Steve – thanks for stopping by. What i’m guessing is that there are some older folks behind those particular young folks encouraging and training.

    Barbara – hi! I love that. It makes the person behind you benefit, I’m guessing.

  4. Something so simple sometimes seems so complicated for some folks. It takes little time to make a difference in a person’s life yet we often overlook the gift of opportunity. Simple gestures like “please” and “thank you” or something fun and goofy like the teenager behind the counter can make any person’s day – including the “giver”. We need to hear about more great examples like this!!

  5. Its such a small gesture like smiling that carries so much positive weight. I try and smile or talk to at least one random person a day. I mean seriously, who is going to refuse a smile and a kind word?

  6. I just noticed the pun… “in chains” sounds like “in a chain gang”.

  7. Paul – whatever do you mean? 🙂

    Erica – i’ve run into some who refuse, honestly, but it is still worth the effort.

    Vicki – i’ll keep trying to find them.

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  9. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.