The rumors are true… I’m an addict.
A Dunkin Donuts coffee addict! (Had you fooled for a second, didn’t I?)
I frequent a tiny, cash-only, coffee-only Dunkin Donuts kiosk in the Chicago Avenue Red Line subway station, approximately two and a half blocks away from my place of business. I don’t necessarily stop to get coffee every morning, but I’m regular enough that the Coffee Lady—as I fondly call her—recognizes me and knows my coffee order (medium, black) by heart. She usually has it waiting for me before I even reach the counter.
Today, like many other days, I disembarked the Red Line train and bee-lined it to the coffee kiosk. Coffee Lady, who was serving a customer, saw me and smiled. I returned the smile, happy to be recognized, confident that my coffee order would appear without even having to ask. It was that moment, a wave of doubt washed over me, “Did I forget to bring my wallet today?” I searched my purse. The answer was, in fact, yes... I did forget my wallet.
Crestfallen, I stood there, paralyzed by the reality of what forgetting my wallet meant. I had been pinning my hopes and dreams of Dunkin Donuts coffee since at least the Fullerton El stop. Realizing that Coffee Lady would just present me with a cup of hot, smooth, luscious Original Flavor Dunkin Donuts coffee, I stood there waiting for the customer in front of me to move out of the way so I could stop Coffee Lady from making a terrible mistake. In vain, I searched my purse one last time. Finally, I signaled to Coffee Lady just as she began to move toward the pot.
"Um… I don’t need the coffee today. I just realized I forgot my wallet at home. Sorry." This was not OK with Coffee Lady who immediately responded with, "Don’t worry about it." She never missed a step. Before I could protest, my coffee was on the counter in front of me.
"Are you sure? Thank you so much. I’ll pay for it tomorrow," I practically jumped for joy.
She smiled, assured me that it was OK, and made a gesture that suggested she would not accept payment for the coffee tomorrow.
Coffee Lady is amazing. I’ve many times discussed Coffee Lady with my other Dunkin Donuts coffee drinking, Red Line riding co-workers, and we all agree—this woman deserves a raise-a big one. She is the epitome of great customer service. She’s there every single day and never fails to remember a coffee order, to smile and say hello, and ask how you’re doing. She makes every customer feel like he or she is her personal favorite.
Up until that moment, the morning had been a little rough—I woke up late, missed my usual bus, and forgot my wallet—but when I walked out of the subway station, the slate was wiped clean, the day felt renewed. I realized that when you interact with a person who is that pleasant and friendly, it's impossible to start the day off on the wrong foot, regardless of what happened pre-Coffee Lady.