Y-Speak: For Jai

I USED to have this idea that being able to buy anything from Starbucks was a luxury. Of course, it was only natural. Starbucks is well-known for the coffee they serve and the prices, and so it was expected that I would believe it is a place only for people who could afford it.

Recently, that idea was slowly diminishing ever since my mother brought my family and I there for a drink. Don’t get me wrong, I still think it is expensive. But I guess the mere idea of it becoming affordable for me made it less of a luxury and more of a café that just has a little more style and class compared to other cafés.

However, I’m not going to talk about the coffee. I want to talk about the baristas—actually, just one in particular to represent the rest.

Like I said, I thought of Starbucks as a luxury, and before it practically became a mere activity to go there, I simply settled for fast food chains like McDonalds or Jollibee; and the one thing that intrigued me the most about Starbucks compared to these fast food places is the fact that they’d ask for your name.

Sure, it’s not a big deal. It’s easily compared to being given a number when one waits for their order; only a bit more personal. I took it rather lightly. In fact, I had a bit of fun with it and had the idea of giving them a different name every time I ordered. However, I ended up sticking with a shorter version of my nickname, which was simply “Jy”.

“One café mocha grande for Jy,” I would hear them say, although I know that they’d have the wrong spelling of my name and would instead write “Jai”, I found it amusing and still responded naturally.

I’d come back every now and then for that same drink. In the past few months—since the first semester—it would even be the first location my boyfriend and I would linger in for a date. It was almost a routine.

One day—probably a holiday or a weekend—upon entering Starbucks, being greeted by the smell of freshly brewed coffee and warm pastries, I was also greeted by a barista, along with the mention of my name.

“Good morning, Jy,” she said. I was fairly surprised, although I shouldn’t be. It was only normal for her to know my name after the many times I’ve visited, and yet I never felt as delighted as when she was able to call me by my name so casually. Much like a friend.

I know, however, that it is partially her job to do so anyway. To build relationships with the customers and whatnot, but the main reason as to why it affected me quite as much was because I hadn’t bothered to learn her or any other barista’s name.

Yes, they do have name tags, however, we don’t usually look at those as customers, do we? It was such a simple gesture, almost meaningless since a greeting is something we all do, but I couldn’t help but feel seen, in a way. However, even then, I forgot to check for her name.

Funnily enough, I didn’t get to visit Starbucks for a while, and the fact that I didn’t know honestly bothered me. I checked receipts, and came down to three names. All that was left was to confirm it.

And indeed I did when I visited Starbucks two weeks ago, and I felt accomplished. I can easily say that this experience has taught me to further value the idea of appreciation, and I most certainly will continue to appreciate baristas like Giselle. (Malaika Jyka V. El-Btaddini, AB Mass Commmunication-AdDU)


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