Friday, August 06, 2010

Starbucks, Music and the French

When we were preparing to start our massive trek home, I decided it would be a good idea to stop at the Kalispell Starbucks for a large black tea (soy) latté. (I gave up coffee two years ago when I made the switch to vegan after reading Skinny Bitch. The switch to vegan was happening regardless of reading the book, but it did push me into the "I didn't need coffee" corner.) Unfortunately for my "must get moving down the road" mentality, there was a line. However, I have been making a point of being more positive (or at least less aggravated) by the mundane, so I decided to chill and observe.

Four people ahead of me, the barista cheerfully completed a sale and gave the customer a stamped receipt for any large, cold beverage for just $2 USD after 2pm the same day. As the next customer stepped up, the barrista informed him his order was already underway. "Something, something, vanilla, something, right?" And he was right. It may be just me, but I dig when I see someone recognize a customer and provide them with exceptional service. Perhaps the customer wanted something else that day, and if he did, I am sure they would have made it and not worried about the previous order. In fact, it was probably still five cups down the line and hadn't been started yet, so there was no waste. Why not make that jump for your customer? (He got his stamped receipt, too.)

The next two customers were a pair of girlfriends. They looked like juniors or seniors in high school. They purchased some cold, high calorie concoction each, and one could not wait and grabbed one of those fruit and nut bars before her drink was ready. Why is this worth mentioning? Because it cracked me up to hear her exclaim about how good it was. Did she not eat for three days? Working off a hangover? Or was it really that good? I don't know. (I won't know, either, because they aren't vegan, alas. But! Starbucks does now offer oatmeal, so there is something for a vegan to eat if you are in desperate need of food at a Starbucks.) The girls got their stamped receipts and went to the end of the counter to await their mid-morning caffeine fix.

It should be said that Kalispell is something of a tourist town. It borders Whitefish, a skiing and mountain resort town, and is only 40 minutes from Glacier National Park. It is perhaps 80 or 90 miles from the Canadian border. So it is not unusual for a retail/food service employee to inquire about where you are from or where you are going. When it was my turn to order, the barista asked me if I had a long day ahead of me. What could I say? Yes, 24+ hours of driving ahead of me. He cheerfully handed me my stamped receipt, but I said "Thanks, but obviously I won't be here after 2pm." No worries. It's good at any Starbucks. Very good! (Side note: It is still odd for me to type 'Starbucks' instead of 'Starbuck.' Battlestar Galactica infusion much? Bonus Buffy homage.)

Looking down line two of the zip lines on the Big Mountain.

After collecting my tea, I headed to the island for some raw sugar. One drawback (or bonus, depending on your view) of rarely visiting Starbucks is you are not familiar with their services and promotions. I was vaguely aware of the $2 after 2pm promotion. I was pretty sure I had heard wi-fi was now free. But free music downloads? This I had not heard about. Two people joined me at the island and started looking at the little download cards, too. What caught my eye was the card for The National. A few weeks ago, a friend posted a link to The National on Facebook. Coincidentally, another friend had just introduced me to Grooveshark, so I started listening to them online and became hooked.

I think I once described their sound as a male Mazzy Star with less emo. Sorrow, Anyone's Ghost, and Lemonworld quickly became favorites. I pointed out to the guy/kid next to me that I knew of them, but not the other guy's card. He said he didn't know either of them, and I gave The National my endorsement, whatever value that might provide a stranger. A French stranger. Beautiful accent. (Yes, I finally got around to the subject line.)

Not a bad stop at Starbucks.

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