Ultimately this is where my love story begins.
I always wanted to be a stay at home mom. It was one of my personal dreams, or goals maybe, to stay at home and homeschool the kids. However, when my husband deployed and I finally got that opportunity I wasn’t happy with it. Well at the time I wasn’t at least. It wasn’t entirely on my terms that I was thrown into this foreign lifestyle. I had trouble adjusting, and I was already upset my husband would be gone for an entire year leaving me to care for our girls, who were both under the age of three at the time. I was already exhausted and now it was a different exhaustion. It was difficult, I was resentful, and I struggled to find the joy I hoped I would find as a stay at home mom.
There was a bit of introspection on my part because as much as I was resentful about the situation, I knew it wasn’t my husband’s fault. I knew I had to take responsibility for my own happiness and I knew I needed to do something. I needed to fix my emotional situation, not just for me, but for the kids too. After much thought I decided I was lacking purpose. I had the belief that because I was staying home I wasn’t doing enough for myself or the household and I needed to do more. I was blind to my already full plate of dealing with deployment issues and emotions, as well as helping the kids through it in addition to caring for the entire household and all of it’s issues (including eventually fighting with insurance to get a new roof, but that’s a story for another day.) I eventually learned that a house that is lived in all day long is much more difficult to maintain than a house that is only lived in a portion of the day, however, at the time I hadn’t figured that out yet.
Instead I decided it was my obligation to do something to improve myself, so I set out to get my Masters degree. That’s right, I made the bold decision to let my full emotional plate overflow, not just a little, but by an entire pot full. I would handle all of the stress of deployment, I would handle the stress that goes along with parenting two babies who are also dealing with the stress of deployment, and on top of this I would deal with the stress of getting a graduate degree. I seriously don’t know what I was thinking, but I did it. I was set to start school in less than a month, and a part of me smiled. I felt I was getting some control back in my life.
See that right there. I sort of started to figure it out right about then. I was feeling like so much was out of my control, I needed to control something. I hadn’t entirely figured out that was what was happening. In hindsight, now that I can see my struggle with the control of my life, I wish I had chosen something a little less stressful to control, but education was my choice, so I had to live with it.
Let’s fast forward a few months. I was doing great with school, there was a bit of a balance issue, but for the most part I was easily able to get my papers and school work done while the kids napped, and then finish up what I needed when they went to bed. The home life still frustrated me, I still resented being forced out of my job because of the government. Ok, I knew it was my decision to leave work, but I couldn’t justify leaving my kids in daycare for what would probably be at least 50+ hours a week when I figure in drive time, not to mention finding a daycare that would work with the odd hours I worked, and that I trusted it. I felt that the only responsible thing to do in this situation was to quit my job, and it’s something I wouldn’t have had to do if my husband was not called up for a year deployment.
Then, my statistics class started. These were online classes and the teacher was non-existent. He didn’t respond to student questions, he was rarely in the discussion forums and he assigned incredibly lengthy statistics homework. I worked on these assignments for over 8 hours a day to get them done and it was wearing me down. I did my work when the kids napped, then stayed up until 2am to finish them, only to be up by 7am when the kids woke up. This was the toughest class I had, and it was made tougher because I really had no teacher. I had to figure it out on my own, and when I ran into questions I had to do extra research to find out where I was going wrong. To make it worse, I was top in my class and took it upon myself to help answer the other student questions, which wasn’t my job, but I saw people in need and had to help. This class was wearing me out worse than I’d ever felt before.
After one rather tough night and the kids waking extra early that morning I knew I wasn’t going to survive unless I picked up a coffee. I needed the caffeine more than I’d ever needed it before. We loaded up in the car and I drove to my local Starbucks. The line was insanely long. I almost decided against it, but remembered the test I needed to take later that day for my Statistics class and knew I only had a small window of time to take it in, so I needed to be as alert as possible.
With a sigh I joined the ever growing line for the Starbucks drive through. It was slow. The line crawled. I could only imagine that every car in front of me was ordering several drinks to take back to their office because it was taking so long. I’m sure my current lack of sleep state affected my perception of time, but when I finally pulled up to order my drink, I didn’t feel the excitement for caffeine that I originally set out with. Instead it was a mix of relief, frustration, and just a tad bit of excitement at the hope that soon I would hopefully be jolted awake with a burst of caffeine.
I ordered a Venti sized frappuccino. I never get the Venti size. It’s way too big and way too many calories. I needed it this time. I needed something to give me a little glimmer of hope that I would somehow make it through the day in one piece.
There were still a few cars in front of me, so it was like a dream when I finally pulled up to the window and was handed my beautiful, sugar and caffeine loaded creation. I held out my card to pay and was told “don’t worry about it.” Wait, what? Did the car in front of me pay for mine? What’s going on here. It took me a little longer to comprehend what was happening and tried again to hand my card to the barista. Again he refused and explained that the computers were down and they decided instead of closing shop they would still honor all orders…for free.
I mean wow. That is fantastic! Suddenly I understood why there was such a long line. Suddenly I realized people probably were ordering coffee for their entire office and that’s why it was taking so long. And suddenly I realized how happy I was to have turned into Starbucks that day. I could have driven back home, gone to another coffee shop, or opted for fast food instead. But I joined that long line and felt like I was rewarded for the tough job I was doing.
I left Starbucks with a big grin on my face, but by the time I was home I was in tears. Everything emotional was finally hitting me, and it took one nice gesture from a business on a day when I was probably in most need. I wrote to the manager. I wrote to corporate. I wrote to whoever I could think of and told them why this simple gesture meant so much more to me than probably the rest of the people taking advantage of it.
I always loved my Starbucks, and I still do to this day, but that was the defining moment when I really fell in love with them.
This memory was brought back to life a couple of weeks ago on Boss’s Day when I decided to take myself and the kids out for coffee. As my own boss, I decided I should treat myself to something.
Again I was greeted at the window with the “don’t worry about it” their computers were down again all these years later. She told me it was just a glitch that happened with my order and should be back up momentarily but she didn’t want me to have to wait around, so she decided to give us our drinks free. She did it all with a smile on her face.
Oh, and yes, it was another rare time that I ordered a Venti sized frappuccino. I think I should start ordering these more often, they seem to be working in my favor.
Thank you Starbucks for being there for me even when you didn’t realize I needed it. You’ve brightened my day with your amazingly fun, conversational staff, their professionalism, their customer service, and of course the quality. Only once did I have a mistake on my drink, but it wasn’t all that horrible so I didn’t complain.
PS: I’m no longer resentful about my husband’s deployments, I attribute most of those feelings I had, which were completely valid, to my situation. I’ve since found my place as a stay at home mom, joy in educating my girls at home, and my pride in helping out financially with the household with my job as a blogger. I’m very much happy with my life, and recognize there will always be struggles somewhere, and surprises and opportunities hidden where we least expect to find them. Oh, and I graduated with a 4.0 for my Masters in Industrial & Organizational Psychology, it was all worth it in hindsite. I proved to myself I can get through just about any hardship if I’m determined enough.
Have you ever had an experience of exceptional customer service when you needed it most? Tell me about your experience in the comments below.