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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Cup Should Never Be Half Empty

"Hi good morning. What can I get for you today?" said the voice in the drive thru intercom. "Good morning", I replied. "I'll have a tall soy, no foam, 2 raw sugar latte please." "Would you care for a pastry to go with that this morning?" "No, Thank you." "Ok, your total comes to $2.90 at the window. Thank you." I crawled forward to let the person in the car behind me place their order. When I got to the window, I paid for my latte. The voice in the intercom belonged to the same girl who takes my order everyday since they opened their new location near the freeway. She handed me my latte and I tested the weight of the cup. You can tell they put foam in your latte if the cup feels light, an indication that the cup is filled with foam that is about half an inch from the top. The weight of my cup felt like they prepared my latte according to my instructions. I was pleased that for the first time, I didn't have to give them back the cup to take the foam out and add more milk. I smiled and the girl proudly beamed right back. As a small reward, I handed the girl a dollar to add to their tips box outside the window. She thanked me and told me to have a great day. "You, too!" I said and drove away.

My latte was made extra hot this morning (even though I didn't order it that way) so it wasn't until I reached downtown was when I was able to take my first sip of my coffee. I frowned. They didn't use soy milk! I pulled the cup's sleeve down to see if the instructions were there and they were. I took another sip and I was sure my latte was not made with soy milk. Feeling frustrated that they still could not get my drink right, after, how long have they been open? I can't even remember now. I go there because it's conveniently near the freeway and I just love Starbucks that I could not go a day without it. Besides, Starbucks is known for its customer satisfaction. They always apologize profusely after messing up your order and they compensate you with a voucher for a free drink of your choice on your next visit. Besides, every time I complain about my drink, I feel like I'm giving them a gift. Read my Complaint As A Gift article to find out what I mean.

I looked at the time. It was 7:30 and I was almost at the Q Street exit that leads me to work. I contemplated on whether or not to go back to Starbucks, which was a good 25 minutes away. I quickly calculated the time. If I do go back, that would mean I'll be a half hour late for work, but I'd get what I paid for. If I don't go back, I'll be early for work but I'll scorn myself the entire day for not standing up for what was rightfully mine. I did, afterall, pay for it and added a dollar tip, for what? For messing up my order yet again? When will they ever get my drink right? It's not that complicated compared to the more complex custom-made drinks I hear other people order. It irks me to see other people get pushed or stepped on and they don't say anything about it. And this morning, I made up my mind to go back to Starbucks and demand, in a nice way of course, for them to get my drink straight. It's not just getting what I paid for, it's standing up for my right as a loyal patron of their establishment!

I called the office to let them know I was going to be late. It was 8 o'clock when I reached Starbucks. The drive thru had a mile long line so, being pressed for time, I went inside. Luckily, there were more people who chose to wait in their cars than to go inside, even if it would have taken them lesser time. The girl who was at the drive thru had switched stations with the guy who made my order. I got her attention and with a smile, I told her that my drink was not made with soy milk. I could tell she was disappointed because she was certain my drink was prepared as specified. I told her the drink was too hot that I didn't get a taste until I got downtown. She apologized profusely, took the lid off to see if there was any foam, and sure enough, the cup was filled with milk, just not soy. She felt embarrassed because in her mind, she was probably counting the times they messed up my order. She apologized again and I told her it was okay. She started to make my drink. She whispered something to the manager and the manager nodded. The girl promised it will take only a minute. I nodded. After a short while, I was given a fresh cup of latte, made my way. She also handed me a voucher for a free drink on my next visit. I sincerely said thank you. The manager apologized as well and bade me a good day. I waved and said, "You, too!"

Inside the car, I tested my coffee's temperature. Just right. Ahhh, soy! I looked at the voucher and the front cover had a cut-out coffee cup that was filled half-way. Inside, when opened, is a picture of a coffee cup filled to the top and in big letters it read: "A cup should never be half empty." It also said something to the effect that they were sorry my experience was less than wonderful and to enjoy a cup on them the next time I visit and they hoped my next visit will be a good one. Now that's customer service, I thought to myself and drove off to go to work.

Just as I had calculated, I got to work half hour later than my scheduled time. I gave up my lunch break to make up for the time I was late but that was okay. Before getting out of the car, I re-read the caption: A cup should never be half empty. Hence, the inspiration behind this article.

There is a lesson to be learned from this experience. The caption not only says that Starbucks is committed to providing stellar customer service and that they value their customers, but it also says a lot about how we should live our lives, how we should treat ourselves in order to get what we want in life. Think about it for a minute. Ponder the words and let them sink into your consciousness. Say the words slowly and savor what it truly means. A CUP SHOULD NEVER BE HALF EMPTY.

What it means to me: This tells me to be optimistic about life, to view the cup as being half full rather than pessimistically view it as half empty. It validates my belief to be grateful for all the blessings I currently have rather than dwell on the things I don't have. Having handed the voucher also signifies that I should stand up for my rights. If someone does you wrong, whether intentional or not, speak up! Although we may not have control over what life throws our way, we can control the direction we want to go. Treat yourself with respect because in the end, you will only have yourself to stand up for what you believe in. No one else will do this for you because no one knows you better than you know yourself. You know what you want and you know what you need to do to get whatever it is you desire. Your cup = your life = your cup of life, should be filled with things (i.e. beliefs, culture, religion or whatever is pleasing to you), events and people that contribute to your well-being and are helpful in achieving your maximum potential. Your cup of life should be overflowing with the best things life has to offer. Don't settle for anything less. When you see your cup starts to get low, work on filling it back up again. You have whatever it takes to keep your cup full. You have whatever it takes to live your life to the fullest. Trust in yourself. YOU ARE YOUR BEST ALLY! Be loyal to your friends and family, but be loyal to yourself first and foremost.

Lessons can be learned just about anywhere and just about everything has a lesson to teach. Be observant and before you dismiss an event, take a few minutes to analyze what life wants to teach you. You'd be surprised what lessons you can pick up just by watching the ants, or ducks flying south for the winter, or babies who are learning to walk for the first time, and so on.

Open your mind and heart to all the possibilities and you, too, will begin to see your cup as half full, if not overflowing.

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