Story & Photo – Joseph Boyle
Friday evening, I was working my Starbucks beat as a mild mannered reporter for The Suburban Times. As I sat at my regular table, table 1, watching the world go by, a young woman with two small children and Grandma entered the Towne Center Starbucks.
When the woman entered, Starbucks Barista Sarah slammed a sign down onto the counter. Two Starbucks-green balloons were attached to the sign. The number 10,000 was displayed on the balloons. The sign included an official looking Starbucks logo. The sign read, “We are expecting our 10,000th customer today. It could be you Brittany! Claim your prize at counter”
I thought to myself, “Hey, I bought my cappuccino just ahead of Brittany. That means I am the 9,999th customer and there is no prize for me. I could have been the 10,000th customer. I could have won the prize.”
Sarah told the customer, “You win a prize.” The customer, while excited with the prospect of being the 10,000 Starbuck’s customer, was also pumped about being awarded some kind of prize. Everyone loves to win a prize.
Brittany stopped in her tracks when she realized her unusually spelled name, Brittany, was already depicted on the winner’s sign. As she was trying to process all the exciting conflicted information, she spotted her husband, Nick, approaching from the area of the Starbucks employee-only back room door. Nick was the prize.
Brittany turned and rushed towards Nick, as Nick rushed towards Brittany. She leaped through the air and flew into Nick’s arms just like you see in those romantic TV commercials. As she pounced into Nick’s arms, there was an enthusiastic hug and the kind of kiss that a husband and wife share when they have not seen each other for a long, long time.
Once I learned the prize was Nick, I thought it best that I was the 9,999th customer after all.
I got a chance to meet Nick and Brittany. Here is their story. Nick is a member of the US Air Force, assigned to aviation school in Texas. Because of bad weather, his class is behind in their flight training schedule. That means he is not going to be able to return home to his family during the Thanksgiving holiday.
As luck would have it, this being a long weekend, he was able to fly up from Texas to surprise his family.
Nick ran his surprise like a well oiled mission. He had Kinko’s make up a realistic looking Starbucks sign; attached the balloons and without knowing if his surprise would be authorized by Starbucks, asked Starbucks manager, Jordan, if Starbucks would support his efforts to be a loving husband and father. Jordan, being the “can do” kind of guy he is, said, “Yes, this will be fun. We will help you with your caper”. Nick showed Sarah and Jordan a photo of Brittany so they would recognize her and the surprise trap was set.
To make this a smooth operation, Nick had an inside accomplice, Grandma, who lured Brittany over to Starbucks. Thanks, Grandma!
So there you have it, another inside exclusive story of love and joy brought to you by the gang at The Suburban Times.