Starbucks has great coffee, comfortable chairs and free wi-fi. They have great sandwiches, wonderfully fresh lemon bread and a frequent customer card where you can earn free drinks. Woo-hoo! You can sit in their cafes for some solitude, or with a few friends fixing the problems of the world. All of which is very comfortable, inspiring and mighty tasty. But the coolest thing about my Starbucks in Fountain Hills Arizona are the baristas and servers and managers.
Long before I got sick, I was a daily visitor to Starbucks for my venti vanilla, non-fat, no-foam latte. Yes, daily. For some reason I’ve never mastered the art of brewing coffee at home. My husband would confirm the fact that I missed out on the cooking gene when it got handed out, so maybe that is why the whole home-coffee systems never worked for me.
I loved being a daily Starbucks customer. It became my version of the sitcom, Cheers – you know, when everyone yells “Norm!” upon his arrival. Everyday I would leave Starbucks with my lovely and delicious cup of coffee, feeling better than when I walked in. That makes that cup of coffee, and the people serving it, very special and quite priceless.
When I first got sick, my daily trips to Starbucks stopped. What didn’t stop were those delicious handmade vanilla lattes. My dear friends or husband would make the coffee run for me, and deliver it with a smile and hug. When the partners (that’s what Starbucks call their employees) heard about my illness, they began sending me messages written with a black Sharpie on the outside of my coffee cups. Every message brought with it a sense of healing, thoughtfulness and care, and every cup really did make me feel better. I was truly grateful beyond words. I couldn’t imagine throwing these special messages away, so long before I was well enough to begin painting, I began saving every love-filled cup that was brought to me.
I didn’t know it at the time, but the Starbucks company mission is “to inspire and nurture the human spirit one person, one cup, one neighborhood at a time.” Well, I was (and still am) nurtured and inspired by the wonderful Starbucks partners every day. And when I thought they couldn’t get any better, Snoopy shows up one day. I lOve snOOpy! And it turns out that Nolan, the barista, is a master artist when it comes to Snoopy!
Because of their kindness and creativity, I was inspired to dig deep and show my appreciation and gratitude to the wonderful Starbucks partners in a very special way. I wanted them all to know that what they do every day makes a real difference. So I stepped way out of my comfort zone and set out to paint them a one-of-kind thank you note. When it was finished I contacted the district manager and asked that she present it to the store manager and staff. They deserved to be recognized for their outstanding customer service and for carrying out the company mission with such grace.
Many more fun and creative messages have come my way over the last year, and snOOpy has been busy celebrating holidays, going to Mars and fighting the dark forces. Another piece of Starbucks artwork is taking shape in my studio, so stay tuned. I will be forever grateful for the inspiration provided by the very special people of Store 5586 in Fountain Hills Arizona. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
So treat yourself to a Starbucks today. Who knows, it may just change your life.