My Darling Miss D

“Kids are like kites. Sometimes you have to pull them longer to get them to fly.” (Loosely paraphrased comment from my idol, Erma Bombeck. Link to complete story at bottom.) 

Faithful readers know I am a Starbucks addict. I get my mocha latte every morning. I know everyone and they know me. It’s a lot like Cheers.

Over the years, the staff has come and gone. They hire young adults who are working their way through college or are just out of college trying to get a “real job” in their field. They are bright, attentive and have great customer service skills.

About a year and a half ago, they hired what I referred to as a completely addled brained woman who couldn’t tell the different between the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times or coffee and tea. She confused easily. You always had to tell her at least two or three times what you wanted and then were surprised if it was right. When you were in a hurry, it would get frustrating.

The rest of the workers were very kind. They would help her out again and again. If they knew I was in the drive through they made sure my drink was right. Even with all of that I got six free drinks out of her.

At my Starbucks if they screw up your order, they give you a coupon good for a free drink. As they trained people I would get one here or there. Everyone makes mistakes but not like Miss D. I asked why they kept her and they said she was coming along.

It took a while but she did. Her asset was a perky, happy disposition. She was smiley and happy all the time. (Yeah, I know. I like to smack those people too.)

This past summer she was all excited about her vacation. I thought nothing of it. She is in her twenties and I envisioned her going with her girlfriends or maybe a boyfriend to someplace fun.

Starbucks is a very busy place. I only get to know the staff in 30 second bites over time.

One barista is going to nursing school and one is a substitute teacher who finally got a permanent position. One person was active in the theatre but most are working through college. I never knew too much about Miss D. Most of our conversations were centered around, “Are you sure this is decaf? If it’s not, I’m going to be shakey all day!”

It was about two weeks after she was back when I finally got to ask her how her vacation was. OMG! She is married to an Albanian national who is waiting for a visa. She was in Albania. She poured out the saddest story I’ve heard in a long time. They have been married a year but have yet to spend any holidays together. Who would have known?

One thing I have learned over the years is that people aren’t what they appear to be. That old guy working in the mail room was the head chef (and a fabulous cook) in a big local restaurant before he retired. The security guy was a military man with tons of stories. One of the soccer mom types spent ten years living on a boat in the Mediterranean.

Miss D is still slightly crazy but once she learned, she can run the place. Well, that may be an exaggeration. She does remember my drink. I am now her Darling Kate.

Disclaimer: Despite my long-term loyalty and affection to Starbucks, I am not in any way paid for my positive comments. I wouldn’t be adverse to a gift card or two thrown my way though. Just saying….

Kids are like kites — Erma Bombeck

36 thoughts on “My Darling Miss D

  1. I absolutely adore this story yo’ve shared, Kate! What a fabulous reminder that so often we really don’t know the story behind the story of others. The fact that she stayed so perky throughout all of this makes her even more endearing. Her coworkers must have liked her a lot to put up with her mistakes. It speaks well of everyone, really!

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  2. Such a great message, Kate. Everyone has a story, drags around a ton of baggage, and has a talent we don’t often see. I know an engineer who plays base in a band, an IT guy who’s a guitarist with a band and writes/records his own music, a secretary who’s an expert antique doll restorer, and on and on. Seeing past the obvious and forgiving imperfections makes us better.

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  3. Well, it must be my Monday morning weakness. I cried at this one. I have often thought that there are so many every day hero’s with stories to be told. Thanks for sharing yours. Maybe she is not a Starbucks hero but she is a life hero. Hero? Sometimes, I think, just living through our situations with a little ditzy grace and dignity is heroic.

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  4. I go to a donut place that is next to where I work and they have some of the most unfriendly mean people I have ever met. I have no idea how they keep their jobs. One day an older man told one of them that he would not tolerate the way he was spoken to and their corporate office would hear from him. Interesting thing is the peeps are a bit nicer…still not nice but nicer.

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  5. There used to be a television show like that. The reporter would go to a phone booth (can hardly find those anymore) and blindly pick a name out of the phone book. They would then do a show on that person – who yes, always had a story. As you point out in this wonderful post, people are really interesting!

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  6. Funny post, Kate. Yes, some people are just too darn perky. 🙂
    But your story also is a wonderful reminder to take a little time to hear people’s stories. Sometimes, behind the biggest smile there’s a very sad heart. (BTW, Erma Bombeck is one of my favorite writers. Thanks for the link.)

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  7. I love this post. It’s so true that “everyone has a story,” and I’m usually blown away when I get to know what someone’s story is. And I like how the structure of your post lets me follow your experience so that I experienced it with you–the superficial annoyance about Miss D’s inability to get it together, the wondering why the company bothers to keep her, and then the act of being blown away by knowing her story. Very well-crafted.

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  8. Those kids behind the counter are fascinating. They come from all walks of life and I love chatting with them. They take the time unlike McDonalds, a busy fast environment. I have made a few acquaintance and they too must moved and float with the wind. I am thankful for the service that they provide. Thank you for the story and I hope you get a gift card. If not, send me your address and I’ll give you one for Christmas. You deserve all the stars and bucks, Kate.

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  9. You are so right about people not being what they seem to be. Never judge a book by its cover comes to mind. Several of my good friends started out as people I didn’t like. It’s good to take a second look.
    Another great human interest story from you. Always enjoyable and with some thoughts to ponder. Well ponder might be a little much. 🙂

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  10. I have also discovered that people are typically more complex than we give them credit for. We had a security guard at my office building who was in his 80s and had lived in DC his whole life. He was one of the first African-Americans to ever work at the post office. He was living history and I used to devote a few minutes every morning to hearing one of his stories. We lost him a few years ago but he will never be forgotten.

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  11. I don’t have a Starbucks close enough to my house for me to make daily trips to, which is unfortunate for me since I do enjoy their coffee. It is nice to have a place where people know you and can get your order properly, and it is nice to know a few things about them as well. Maybe someone from Starbucks will read your blog and you will get a well deserved gift card afterall.

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  12. Thiswas so funny, I am not sure which oneis Miss D as I do not go everyday anymore since I bought my Keurig. But your comment about the old guy in the mailroom – Don Stocker- I worked with him at Trainers back in the day. And when I started at Penn Treaty I could not place him – he did not age well – until I hear his name over the loud speaker. We had many a discussion about Trainers – it bought back a lot of fond memories as this was my first “real” job with a paycheck.

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