A Starbucks Customer’s Graciousness Ends an Encounter on a High Note

Bishop, Calif., located on U.S. Route 395 midway between Los Angeles County and Reno, Nevada, is a quiet, remote town of 3,900, whose civic highlight is a week-long festival commemorating its status of Mule Capital of the World. Earlier this week, however, Bishop turned up in social media and national news outlets following a couple of interactions between a Starbucks barista and a self-proclaimed “curt” customer.

Andrew Richardson, who has been working at the Bishop Starbucks for nearly two years, encountered a woman at the drive-thru window March 20 who was frustrated that the store had run out of drink carriers. She also asked if she could pass her trash through the window to him and Richardson was forced to decline since that would be a violation of a California health code. The woman expressed her disappointment, which Richardson found understandable, and the exchange ended. Or so Richardson thought.

The next day, however, the woman was back. Spotting Richardson through the drive-thru window, she confirmed that he was the barista she’d dealt with the day before and extended an apology for any discomfort she’d caused him. Then she handed him an envelope and left.

When the 20-year-old opened the envelope during a free moment, he found a gracious note of apology and a $50 bill. “The thought of leaving a trail of unkindness like that is so not the path I want to reflect,” read the note, which was signed “Debbie.”

Richardson was taken aback by the courteousness he received, in large part because he didn’t feel mistreated in the first place.

“She was mildly irritated, but she was still pleasant with me,” he said. “It was like a two on a scale of ten for me. When she came back, that was a lovely interaction. She was so nice and so kind. I just really wasn’t expecting that. It was very, very heartwarming.”

Richardson posted about the exchange and was caught off-guard by the wave of national interest it sparked. Donna Smalley, the manager of the Bishop Starbucks, wasn’t surprised by the way the young man she’s worked with for nearly two years handled the situation and is encouraged by the positive response the meeting generated.

“This is a big deal, not only for Andrew personally but for our whole store, because somebody recognized the fact that our job isn’t always easy and we do the best we can to try to please our customers,” said Smalley. “I think everybody came out a winner in this one, and that’s why it got so much attention.

“Andrew is just a fun kid to work with. He’s upbeat and he’s very good with customers, as you can see from all of this.”

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