A bouquet of flowers picked along the way ….

William the 99999999th July 6, 2010

Filed under: Ethics and Values,Inspiration,life,love — gurdas @ :

I love being surprised and do not suffer my ignorance of high cuisine menus. So, I often tell the person taking my order what I feel like having, and not necessarily what is on the menu. And I let the person attending our table advise, often even pick for me. The advantages of this approach greatly outweigh disadvantages (which are almost non-existent). One, I get to relish all kinds of expressions – questioning, curious, thoughtful, surprised, caught off-foot to name a few. Being a turbaned Sikh, I have the advantage of appearing different. So, when I get into my ‘lets have some fun here’ ordering style, it is almost always something they did not see coming. I have never ever received a normal expression when I start ordering. And this gives me a high πŸ™‚ Plus, I get some free character study to do. I see confident, knowledgeable attendants (because they shoulder the responsibility of understanding my taste needs and matching it best to a menu item) and I see confused, ignorant types. None of this is available to folks who display a mastery of the menu (sometimes faked) and reel off their orders. And the fun does not end there. Since I am basically eating their pick, they take special care in making it right, and always come back asking how good their pick is. I shower them with my smiles and praises. Great relationship (however brief) tactic.

So, the other day my friend, Mina, and I went to a Starbucks for chit chat over coffee. Taking our order was a smiling African American gentleman named William. My order was this “I am in the mood for something cold, very little ice, and a strong taste of coffee.” William jumped to the challenge of meeting my desire. He asked me a couple of questions and placed the order. I had no clue what he was going to serve me. I did not ask. Surprises are best when savoured at the right moment. It was Mina’s turn. On our last visit, she had a strawberry drink. The other options were mango-orange and chocolate. William completely ruled out mango-orange saying it had no taste. I fell in love with the guy right then. For anyone to confidently say something on their menu is not worth it, needs to be acknowledged. Mina did not want chocolate and she already had strawberry. Hmmm…this was looking like a jam. But William bested himself. He offered to make a mix of strawberry and mango. He had not tried it before, but was confident it will be different. Mina felt secure in his confidence and she agreed to be game.

We took our table and shortly after that my order was announced. My drink looked inviting, very dressy with a dark bottom layer, a light brown middle layer, and cream top layer. My expectations doubled. I took a sip and smiled. William had nailed it. Just what I wanted! And this was not on the menu. I praised his selection and thanked him. He made double sure I liked it. I told him I loved it. A minute later, Mina’s order was ready and while not as dressy as mine, it still displayed an interesting mix of colours. She took a sip and then another. And she smiled. Check-mate! What happened after this moment is why I am writing this post.

William walked over to our table and asked Mina how her drink was. She said she liked it. Her praise was gentle and maybe William thought she was just being polite. So, he said this “If the drink is not what you feel like having I can make you another.” I was sold. His smiling face and humility coloured that room. Mina took the cue and this time her praise was equal to how much she liked the drink (she loved it).

I pondered on this and both Mina and I talked about it. What William did was exceptional. It might seem otherwise, but I thought his gesture was grand. It is not about the cost of the drink, but the attitude.

My next visit to Starbucks is not going to be for the good coffee they brew. But to be able to say hello to William.

ps: The name William, to me, has a kingly tone to it. And so the title of this post.


7 Responses to “William the 99999999th”

  1. Anil Says:


    Hard to even think of such an experience in any restaurant or any other shop here in India.

    And hats off to you for such an idea (of not placing an item on the menu but your mood as an order)

    • gurdas Says:

      Anil, thank you for the kind words. Really, I use my mood because I acknowledge my ignorance of some menus. Necessity is the mother of innovation. I promise to try this when I next visit India πŸ™‚

  2. Erin Says:

    Hi Gurdas & All ‘Gurdas Followers’

    I just started reading this blog a few weeks ago…after Gurdas and I went shopping together.

    Gurdas – your observation of the human character is quite intriguing…. a new perspective to everyday human interaction and communication. You appreciate the little things that others take for granted.

    Kudos to you!

    • gurdas Says:

      Ah, Erin, your observation of my observations is heart warming. Thank you. I am just hungry for joy and so seek it everywhere. And I am truly lucky that I find it almost everywhere.

  3. firstmonsoon Says:

    This puts me in mind of Meg Ryan in one of the opening scenes of ‘You’ve Got Mail’, set in Starbucks.. Since I normally find myself in her place, I think I rather like your method!

    Greetings to William πŸ™‚

    • gurdas Says:

      firstmonsoon (love that handle), thank you for stopping by. I think Meg would fit to the T my style of ordering… reminds me of her order in “When Harry Met Sally” πŸ™‚
      I will have William look up this page when I next meet him; so your hello is definitely going to find its target.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s