Like today, at the Einstein's Bros. Bagels in Clayton, in the Schnuck's Plaza near the Esquire Theatre.
I walk in. The place is clean. The music is a good volume. The john is clean. The kids working (there are always kids working at these kinds of places) look clean and disciplined but still in a good mood. Not anarchic, but not terrorized.
I go to the wrong cash register. The guy behind the couter does NOT say, "Hey man, that's the wrong register." Or stand there and wait for me to figure it out. He says, "I can help you down here."
Now I have him pegged as the manager guy. I don't read menus if I can avoid it, so I say, "I want a medium coffee - or large," implying I only want the larger drink if it's a two-size system, which I don't know, this is not my regular stop.
The manager guy says, "So that was a medium coffee?" - reading my signs right rather than upselling me.
I walked away thinking, "This guy may or may not like his job, but he knows it's his job and he is trying to do it right. I wish I was a chief executive who, having seen middle-management ability like that in potential, can put it into action."
The coffee was good, too, and the baked food thingy with the green chile peppers was great.
Anybody who needs a middle manager, go to that Einstein's and ask for the guy who was on duty at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 5. The other guy around town with this kind of juice and sense of customer service is Dean who runs the Vintage Vinyl consignment program (and a very good program it is) for local artists, labels and publishers. Dean is a peach.
Illustration from A Shel of My Former Self, the Shel Holtz blog.