I remember that song from Sesame Street when I was growing up. Now, Dallas is a pretty spread out, car-oriented city, but within that, I feel like I have true friends in these people.
- Exxon Guy: So lets start with the early morning stop at the Exxon station at Mockingbird and Greenville. We discontinued our weekday newspaper because it wasn’t being delivered on time so I frequently grab a paper from the gas station. Sorry to say, I don’t know his name but his smile is so friendly. He compliments me because, as he says, I’m “very smart” to read the paper. (He doesn’t know I mostly just read the funnies and do the puzzles). I typically buy my paper with miscellaneous coins and apparently one day, I overpaid by a dime and the next day, he insisted I pay only 90 cents to make up for it. Our 30-second conversations have covered everything from his family’s celebration of Orthodox Christmas to new ownership of the store. I was sure to compliment him the first day he wore his new 7-11 red shirt. As a side note, during grad school years, I worked as a secret shopper and frequently shopped Exxons–too bad this guy wasn’t on my circuit ’cause he would’ve gotten some sort of bonus.
- FedEx Guy: Again, I don’t know his name but he’s gotten gift cards from me the past couple Christmases, as well as bottled water and cokes on hot days. And yes, our conversations are short but he’s a pal for sure. See, when I get Kindermusik deliveries at the start of each session, it can be upwards of 25 large boxes. He knows on that day to back the truck into the driveway (special treatment) and call me out to open the garage door. Then he unloads the boxes in my garage as I inventory and mark each box. Together, we’re so efficient! He gets a kick out of giving the boxes a little shake to see what in the world I’m getting. On some occasions, when I’m waiting on something specific, he’s been known to put it straight into my minivan (yep, special treatment indeed). The real fun, though, is that when I see the blue/green FedEx ground truck in the neighborhood, I look at the driver and more than once, I’ve honked and we smile and wave. Friends!
- Linda at Whole Foods: If you shop at the Whole Foods on Park Lane, you must know Linda. She’s got a following in the neighborhood and online already with her blog and articles in the Dallas Morning News. She writes great stuff but is even more fun in person! I find myself purposely shopping at times when I know I can chat with her. She’s funny, friendly, and actually cares about what’s going on with me. But here’s what made a difference to me one day: While checking out with an adjacent checker, I was wrestling with my reusable bags and accidentally left my box of dishwasher tabs at the checkout. Bummer. I went back in the store a few days later and mentioned it at customer service. There it was! My box of Ecover with a taped note “For Lisa Kindermusik, Linda’s Friend”. I left the note taped to the box until it was empty. It made me feel so good to have that sort of “friendship” at the grocery store.
- Royal Thai Girl: Ok, so maybe you haven’t been to Royal Thai since you had kids but if you go, you’d find the same girl who’s worked there for years. She’s still filling water and delivering chopsticks and clearing tables speedily. She is bashful but will give us a smile. The best part is that she knows not to touch my peanut dressing until after I’ve scraped every possible last drop out of the bowl. Now that’s a true friend.
NW Hwy/Shadybrook Starbucks: Finally, we all have a favorite Starbuck’s, right? I know I often sacrifice convenience just to get to MY Starbucks. This crew might as well be friends because they see me every day, the good, bad and ugly. They know I’ll wait an extra minute to let the foam on my soy settle just right. Robert and I think of Andrew, the manager, as a little brother. And Abby is the kind of person anyone would love to call their best friend. This past new year’s, when we cruised the drive-thru with my non-coffee-addict brother and his girlfriend. Robert simply said hello over the speaker and the voice on the other end immediately responded, “Hi Robert!” My brother thought this was hilarious. Then the barrista promptly asked if we’d have our usuals and that blew us all away. That’s customer service! But mostly, I know when I go that they care about me. My favorite was when I went in over Christmas and was told by one of the barristas that a couple of our Kindermusik teachers were in there the day before. Apparently they started talking soy lattes and my name came up and they went “on and on” about what a wonderful “boss” I am. So the barrista puts all this together and then tells me about it. Talk about a wonderful Christmas present!
So yes, I have some unusual friends but I love ’em. Who are the people in YOUR neighborhood? Tell us!
This post brought to you by Miss Lisa.