And It’s All Seth Godin’s Fault

I had a “customer service moment” in Wegman’s today.

I love Wegman’s, I really do (I can see Catherine waving and jumping up and down, yelling “Me too!” all the way from Iowa. Hi Catherine!)

Love the produce, the fish, the beer aisle(s) !!

Love the magazine section, love Nature’s Marketplace.  Love the cafe.  I even love the bathroom where there is usually a vase of fresh flowers near the sinks.

But the coffee kiosk???  Not such a fan.

My standing order is: soy latte, hold the foam.  Not a complicated order, but you’d be surprised how many times I’ve gotten half a cup of foam.

Sometimes, when the baristas –I even hesitate to call them by that honorific since they don’t have much, if any, “skillzzzz” but are merely java jockeys), are being slammed, I just take my half cup of foam and walk off  and sulk in the broccoli aisle.

But today, today was different.  Today the store was quiet (10 AM on a Thursday) and there was no line.  I was “it,” the only customer for miles.

I was happy, in a good mood. I asked her to hold back the foam, and when she started to pour the pitcher of soy milk into the shot with no hold-back, I stopped her and reminded her, “Please hold back the foam.”  She gave me a look and a sneer and said, “That’s how we make them here!”

I picked up the cup, and yup, it was light. Half foam.

Me: “Could you just take a spoon and scoop off the foam and give me what’s left of the soymilk in the pitcher?”

“Fine!” she huffed, and proceeded to make me another drink.  She slammed the fridge door closed, sloshed the soy milk into the pitcher, shoved it under the wand, and then proceeded to hold back the raging river of foam with a teaspoon, which was completely ineffectual.

Result?  Same drink, except this one had a lot of added venom (on the house).


She plopped it down as if to say, “Here.  You happy now, bitch?”

I said nothing, but craned to look at her name tag which was attached to her hat. She saw me and pointed to it and said, “Yeah, it’s Roxanna!”

(All righty then.)

I talked to a manager on my way out.  Told him the whole sad story of Roxanna and her snippy attitude and her inability and unwillingness to hold back foam.

I told him she didn’t fit in with the whole Wegman’s experience of the happy fish guy and the woman who goes out of her way to find me the goji berries. She doesn’t fit in with the flowers in the bathroom and Cathy, the checker who can pack a bag so expertly that it looks like Rubic’s cube of geometric symmetry. And on top of that, she always smiles and talks to me like I’m a person. (Amazing.)

Ever since I’ve been reading Seth Godin and Chris Brogan and all the other gurus of the new business paradigm, I am less tolerant of businesses that have mediocre or, (godforbid) downright bad customer service.

Businesses like Amazon and Zappos and L.LBean and a host of others have spoiled me (and a lot of other “me-like” people out there) and we know we don’t have to put up with the likes of Roxanna any more.

I told the manager at Wegman’s that I will just get my no-foam soy latte at The Soulful Cup next time so as not to have to have my perfect Wegman’s shopping experience sullied by the likes of the Evil Roxanna.  (I didn’t call her that.)

He said he was really sorry.  He asked me to wait a few weeks and then try the kiosk again, and if I still had a problem to come see him (his name is Steve).  He gave me a $7 gift card to treat myself to a coffee on the store.

Now that’s the Wegman’s I know and love.

And PS.

Roxanna? Honey? I think you might be going back to the stock room.  Where you belong.

The Real Story

So here is the real story .

I’ve been taking the advice of Chris Brogan in his great book Trust Agents and stepping out of the safety of “Lurker-ville “

What this means is that I am blogging more myself, and I’m  starting to comment on blogs I enjoy, telling the authors what I like, and how what they write impacts my life.

I did this on Steven Pressfield’s blog, and I wrote about his book on mine.

So, the internet being what it is, you can go on Technorati, plug in your name, and see what’s being said about you out in Ether Land.

Steve Pressfield’s publicist does this for him and in the course of her research she found my blog, read my comments, contacted me, and that’s how the interview came to be.

Pressfield  is very smart. He knows what it means  be a good citizen in this new social media neighborhood.  He’s generous and web savvy.  He understands that it’s not just about him and his book and his sales, but more about putting out great content and helping people.  Lending them your tools. Helping out the little guy.

I am a “little guy”.  My blog has a very small readership at this point, so his motivation for answering my questions and letting me post them on my blog clearly isn’t sales.  Or if it IS sales, he is willing to grow his sales slowly, one book at a time, one happy customer at a time—one happy customer who will hopefully  “sneeze” about his book to all her friends, and spread the word around.

Now I ask you,  how smart is that?

Mission Statement

I am reading a book called Trust Agents now and there is a section on setting goals.  Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, the authors, are all for goal-setting.  How will you know where to put your energies if you don’t have a direction? they argue.

I understand this, I do.  And I agree with it.

But I’ve always been of the Zen persuasion when it comes to goals, and that is: Goal is path, path is goal.

In other words, I try not to be so focused on the goal, that I neglect the very life being lived right under my nose. Because really, it’s this person, this interaction, this conversation that constitutes my life.  People and situations, if they are viewed just as a means towards an end, or a goal, become de-humanized or de-realized. And I, by treating them this way, become just a punk.  A creep. A user.

That being said, I still think it helps to have a direction, a destination to steer towards. So I have been thinking of where I would like to see the studio go in the next few years and I have come up with a kind of Mission Statement.

Here is my first stab at it:

I want to create an active community of people who know each other, interact with each other, like each other, and who have some kind of spiritual practice whether it be yoga, or art, or gardening, or social activism or physical fitness. This community will see Main Street Yoga as a gathering center: a place to meet, share, plan, and give and get support for individual and collective efforts to make their own lives and the community healthier, happier, more vibrant, creative and prosperous.

This is my mission for the studio.  This is my goal.

(If you know, and practice at MSY, did I miss anything? Would you like to add anything?)