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Speaking Starbucks

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Header photo: Tim Sattler (left) enjoying a hot cup of coffee with Amanda Amiot (right).

For those who know Amanda Amiot, a Frontline Specialist at Choice’s Grand Forks North location, you know she always has a coffee in hand. And it’s always from Starbucks.

“It’s usually a Triple Vanilla Latte,” she said. “But sometimes I like to get a Grande Blonde Pumpkin Spice Triple Soy No Whip.”

As a part-time barista at Starbucks, Amanda speaks the Starbucks tongue-twister lingo like a pro. You want a Grande Iced Sugar Free Vanilla Latte with Soy Milk? Got it. How about a Triple Venti Half-Sweet Non-Fat Caramel Macchiato? On it. Not only that, but Amanda memorizes each regular by name and knows their orders.

Her banker and barista jobs help her pay for classes at the University of North Dakota, where she is a full-time student. And while she enjoys her work at both places, it sometimes means she is, understandably, a little tired. Despite that, Amanda is known for her positive and bubbly energy at work and always brings a smile to her coworkers and customers.

“Amanda brings a lot of energy. And our customers can sense that,” said Tim Sattler, Leasing Manager in Grand Forks.

One particular morning, however, that energy was hard to muster up. Amanda had a 5:30 AM Starbucks shift before heading to her frontline shift at Choice. It was a Friday morning — a busy time for the team with lots of customers to help. Worst of all, she forgot to grab her morning coffee.

“Gosh I’m just dragging today,” she lamented to her coworker, Chris Danielson. “I could really use a Starbucks right now.”

Tim, who had just returned from his lunch break and was checking his mail, overheard. He could tell Amanda needed a little pick-me-up.

“What do you want?” he chimed in, already getting his coat back on. Amanda was surprised.

“I’ll head over right now,” Tim smiled. Amanda and Chris looked at each other. Tim was well-known for bringing positivity to the office; whether it was cracking jokes to get people laughing, or small thoughtful gestures to get you to smile. This was just one more reason they loved their team.

Amanda knew right away what she wanted. She wrote it down on a Post-It note so Tim wouldn’t have trouble remembering: Grande Double Blonde Iced Chai with Soy.

Unlike Amanda, Tim is not well-versed in Starbucks language. In fact, he doesn’t like to drink coffee at all. He describes the various haikus and wording gymnastics of a Starbucks order as the equivalent of “attending church in Latin.” Needless to say, as he pulled up to the drive-thru with the Post-It note in hand, he was anxious to get it right.

“I was sweating bullets,” he said with a laugh.

As he pulled up to the window and the girl asked for his order, he paused.

“Can I just hand you this?” he said, handing over the note.

The girl looked at it and grinned.

“Is this for Amanda?” she said.

“It is!”

The girl disappeared and came back quickly with the order. And when it got back to Amanda, that first sip was like a new beginning.

“It turned the whole day around,” she said.

Not only that, but the coffee remained a reminder of Tim’s generosity and what it means to be #PeopleFirst throughout the day. Whenever a customer was upset, Amanda said, she would glance at the coffee cup sitting next to her and smile.

“He put his employees before himself. It was a reminder that we’re all a part of something so much bigger than ourselves,” she said.

It all contributes to creating a place where people enjoy working and being around each other, she said.

“So many people talk about how they dread going to work, or not looking forward to it. I can honestly say that I am excited to come to work.”

Chris Danielson, who witnessed Tim go out of his way to help out Amanda, said it’s these things that build camaraderie throughout the team.“It all goes hand in hand, working hard and having a little fun,” he said, integrating the Choice core value: Work hard, do the right thing, and have a little fun. “Here at Grand Forks, that’s very evident; there isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t laugh as a team.”

For Tim, it’s about showing genuine appreciation for the team — in big ways and in little ways, like offering to grab their favorite half-a-page drink order at Starbucks.

“I think sometimes we get so caught up in our own tasks, that we unintentionally take our teammates for granted,” he said. “I want to show them that they are genuinely appreciated for what they do. It’s a way to say, ‘thank you.’”

Better the places you live…and work!