Thursday, May 24, 2012

To Whom Much Is Given, Much Brainstorming Can Be Involved Re: What to Give Back

My morning-shift Starbucks baristas go out of their way to take care of me. The hero’s welcome I get officially begins before I even step inside (they first see me through the window, as my hand reaches for the door), and my usual order is ready and waiting at the edge of the counter by the time I advance to the front of the line. I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve this tier of treatment, but I’ll miss it when I’m/they’re gone.  

There’s one barista in particular who looks out for me. Whenever she takes control of the cash register, she either insists on charging me the 54-cent refill rate or refuses to charge me at all (and, no, I’ve never had a Starbucks Rewards Card – don’t need one with this crew in my corner).

The generosity has been flowing for long enough, and I was raised to reciprocate. But I don’t know what to give her in return. I also don’t want the reciprocation to end up backfiring on me or making things awkward in any way. When I brought a neighbor (who had to be at least 70 years old at the time) a bag of apples to thank him for spontaneously and expertly fixing my broken mailbox lock with a set of tools he slowly fetched from his apartment, he asked me out.

She has no need for fruit - there are mass quantities of it all around her work station, in addition to the coffee, tea, sandwiches, yogurt parfaits, pastries, travel mugs, and compilation CDs. What do you get the girl who has everything?

I started my spring cleaning the other day and it’s done nothing but put ideas into my head. There are a couple of purses I wouldn’t mind getting rid of. And I found a multi-pack of Bonne Bell Lip Smackers that I can’t use because I’m allergic to the SPF in it; but she could have sensitive skin too.

I’m opening the floor to suggestions.


  1. One of the purses sound like a good idea. Is she a plant person by any chance? You could get her a little pot-plant with some type of mini flowers growing in it. Or a bonsai tree. Something cute.

    Or earrings (see if she wears big chunky ones or little ones and take it from there).

    My favourite gift has to be Chocolate. Any kind in any package :D

  2. I like both of Azra's ideas. I little potted plant is a great gift... if the person is a plant person. And if you've noticed that she does wear jewelry a simple pair of earrings would be nice. I make jewelry, which is handy for those small last minute gifts. Plus I can tailor it to each recipient's tastes.

    A small gift card would work, too. Either for a local restaurant. Or, as she's a barista, she's probably on her feet most of the day. Is there a salon close by where you could get her a gift certificate for a pedi?

  3. I like the chocolate and certificate for a pedi ideas. Also - maybe a movie gift certificate? I think any gesture would be appreciated - with no backfiring awkwardness. :o)

  4. Loved the idea of a gift card. The restaurant or pedi sound great -- if she likes to read, perhaps one to Barnes and Noble.

  5. I think chocolates or lip gloss or anything personal could be taken... uh... perhaps not the way you're intending it. I think a gift card says "thank you" without suggesting anything further.

  6. A potted plant would be appropriate, or a box of I can remember (with terrible clarity) my years in retail, it was always a bit uncomfortable to be 'singled out' with a gift. Your favorite barista is doing something that she finds herself able to do that can be justified in a workplace. So you might want to do something for her that all her coworkers can appreciate and that she can later take home at her discretion. It's about sharing.

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