Suzanne Beecher
Contest Home 2014 First Place
2014 Runner-up
2014 Runner-up

2014 Grand Prize Winner: Elaine Sorrentino

It's All About Attitude

I subscribe to the Monty Python "Always look on the bright side of life" way of living.It has helped me through lots of bumpy times.

When I was in my 30's, I spent three nights a week pouring coffee at a Dunkin' Donuts.While it was not what I ever thought I'd be doing, with my children in preschool and kindergarten, and my finances and marriage going south, Dunkies offered income and hours that worked with my situation.I knew that once my children were in full-day school, I could return to work full time. For this brief period of time, however, Dunkin' Donuts fit the bill.

There's really no secret to pouring coffee, but there are secrets to enjoying pouring coffee.As with any job I've ever had, I tried to find a way to make it fun.I have always had a passion for talking with people.Although this did not work for me when I was in elementary school and my teachers wanted a quiet class, in my 30's I could use this love to engage customers by saying something pleasant to everyone who came in.I vowed that their coffee experience would be memorable every time, and the exchange would always be positive.

Every customer who came through the door received a great big smile and pleasant conversation.Now, not every customer who came through the door wanted a great big smile and pleasant conversation, but they got a great big smile and pleasant conversation with their coffee.And soon, even the grumpiest of customers warmed up.

There was this one man, though, who just never smiled.He wasn't a regular customer.He was more of an occasional customer. He never smiled or even acknowledged that you were talking to him.He just ordered his coffee and that was that.Never anything more. Just coffee, thank you.

One day he came in and ordered a dozen doughnuts.He said he was having a meeting at work and needed to bring doughnuts. So, with box in one hand and tissue paper in the other, I asked him what kind of doughnuts he wanted.

"Oh, just any kind," he snapped, as if I was wasting his time. "Give me what other people don't want."

"Okay," I said, "I'll give you the anchovy doughnuts."

I looked at Grumpy Man and got nothing. No smile. No grin.Nothing.I wondered if I'd crossed the line.Is this the end of my short-lived Dunkin' Donuts career?Will I be dishonorably discharged from pouring coffee?I quickly filled his box with an assortment of the most popular flavors (I was already feeling sorry for those people in his meeting), and sent him on his way.The end.Or was it?

My next work day, in came Grumpy Man again.Uh-oh. I gave him the usual smile and pleasant greeting, nervously waiting for him to order his coffee.Instead, he shocked me by offering me a job.Turns out he was a school photographer (how did he ever succeed in getting those kids to smile when he never smiled?) and he was looking for a salesperson to help promote his business, and thoughtI was perfect for the job.He thought I was hilarious! "Anchovy doughnuts," he said, "That's the funniest thing I've ever heard."

As flattering as it was to be offered a job, I thanked him but turned him down.I just couldn't work with someone who wouldn't even give me the guffaw I truly deserved!