Monday, November 26, 2007

Coffee For All

I was intrigued by a recent article in Slate that recounts a study of coffee shop service and how it discriminates against women. According to the study:

[American economist Caitlin Knowles Myers] with her students as research assistants, staked out eight coffee shops (PDF) in the Boston area and watched how long it took men and women to be served. Her conclusion: Men get their coffee 20 seconds earlier than do women.

Interesting. I'd never even thought about that, but I will now be on the alert next time I walk into a Starbucks. (This may take some time, since I am cutting back on spending on Grande Mochas with Whip.)

However, in addition to now thinking about how long it takes me to get my coffee, I wanted to relate a cheery moment of goodwill from Friday. I joined Nate on a trip downtown (he had a meeting), resolving to read books at Borders (and not buy any). And then I decided that I would treat myself to my first Mocha in ages. (Quick note: I've found it quite convenient to bring a tea bag and travel mug from home, and Starbucks will give you the hot water for free.) So I got to the counter and handed over my mug, and the nice cashier asked me what I ordered and he said, "How are you doing today?" with a smile.

"I'm awesome," I said, since I was in the middle of a lovely four day weekend with my husband.

"You must be out shopping then," he grinned.

"No, I lost my job recently, so I'm not shopping. I'm just enjoying the holidays." I put my five dollar bill on the counter. He looked at it for a minute, and pushed it back toward me.

"Don't worry about it," he said. "I hope you get a new job soon."

I don't think he knew how much that meant to me. I'd like to write a note to his manager to say how much I appreciated it, but I think him giving away a drink like that might get him in trouble. I thanked him twice, once at the counter, and once on my way out. And I thank him again. I love knowing that human kindness is still alive and well.

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