A (very) short story about altruism and customer service


StarbucksBaristaEmployeeMornings aren’t my favorite thing, and the morning these events transpired was particularly early and particularly hot, which meant that I was in a particularly crappy mood.

So, on the way to work, I stopped by my neighborhood Starbucks for a venti iced mood elevator with no sweetener and no room for cream. When I went to reach for my wallet, however, all I found was an empty back pocket. Damn.

Just as I was about to admit total defeat, turn my car around and crawl back into bed, the dear, sweet barista behind the counter smiled, handed me my drink, and said, “It’s on us.”

I walked out smiling.

Altruism, as measured by the Motives, Values, Preferences Inventory, is defined as a desire to serve others, improve society, help the less fortunate, and make the world a better place to live. Does that describe every dreadlock-sporting hippy you met in college? Probably. But it also describes a customer service superstar.

Consider this: that barista could have let me cancel my order and walk out the door. It wouldn’t have stopped me from going back to Starbucks in the future. Instead, she recognized that I was having a bad day, made a kind gesture, and now I’m here telling you about it.