November 19, 2008

Training at the Donut Shop

I have been doing some computer work for the reorganizing Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, and this has required a few trips to Brackenridge, Pennsylvania. Brackenridge is—how should I put it?—out of the high-rent district. Anyway, about half a mile before I reach St. Barnabas’ Episcopal Church, where the office is, I pass a small strip mall under construction. At one end of the mall, a Dunkin’ Donuts shop has, invitingly, been taking shape.

Unexpectedly, I found myself heading out to Brackenridge in mid-morning today. Since I clearly was not going to get lunch at my accustomed time, I grabbed a few scraps of a spiral-sliced ham I had in the refrigerator, filled my coffee mug, put a Fun-Size Snickers left over from Halloween in my jacket pocket, and headed out on the 28-mile trip. When I passed the donut shop, I saw lots of cars in the parking lot and conspicuous activity inside, so I made a mental note to stop by sometime. (Dunkin’ Donuts’ TV advertising has been wearing down my resistance, I suppose, but there is no Dunkin’ Donuts close to my house.)

It was mid-afternoon when I headed back to Pittsburgh, and I thought it might be worth stopping at the new shop for a donut and, perhaps, even some coffee. I pulled into the parking lot, parked the car, and headed for Dunkin’ Donuts. I was delighted to find the place rather crowded, though it also looked a bit messy. I stood in line behind three other customers. Well, I thought they were customers, but I wasn't quite sure. I was about to ask the person ahead of me if the shop was really open for business when a young woman walked up to me to explain that the place was actually opening Monday, and what I was witnessing was a training session. (It was about this time that I noticed that the “customers” had scripts in their hands that they were reading from and were paying with play money.) The young lady explained, however, that I could order something on the house if I would be patient with the new staff. I couldn’t resist all the luscious-looking pastries behind the counter, so I considered that a pretty good deal.

In the end, I came away with a blueberry cake donut and a medium cup of coffee. It was a bit like watching the Keystone Cops behind the counter, but everyone was good-natured and trying very hard to get things right. And perhaps I helped with the training, since I wasn’t using a standard script, and the people behind the counter seemed a bit vague about what Equal is and just how large is each size coffee cup. I walked out of the shop with a smile on my face.

Perhaps when I stop by next time, everyone will seem a bit calmer and more self-assured. I wish the new enterprise all the best.

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