I try to get a walk into my daily routine. COVID or no COVID. I also have a favourite café around the corner from home that has great coffee. It’s where I go either for a sit-down drink or a take-away. When we first moved here 3 years ago the café had the unusual name of Happy Jacque’s. Unusual, because the café owner and his partner were really quite miserable people, rarely smiled, never talked and seldom appeared happy. Just before lock-down in March 2020 the Café changed hands.
In came Zhi Yong Wang and his family. Wang was originally from Shanghai and used to import products from China for consumption in Melbourne. We very quickly became ‘friends’; greeting each other on first name terms. Once lock-down happened he talked about being a bit anxious – not a great start for a new business. But even though he was anxious he never stopped smiling. He often stands just outside his shop saying hello to people passing by. He greets every customer with an equal portion of good will and cheeriness. It is because of his cheerful demeanour that he has been able to keep a steady cohort of customers throughout this pandemic. But it’s not a strategy – it’s a genuine disposition.
Yan, the regular barista said that he is the most cheerful boss she has ever worked for. This past Wednesday, I walked to the café for my usual skinny flat white with one. I went to hand him the money and he said, “No need to pay today”. “Come on”, I said laughing, “That’s not good for business”. “Paid already”, he said. “Regular customer came in this morning and has paid for coffees of next 10 customers”. “Well”, I said, “That’s so generous, when you see that customer again, please tell her or him, that David says thank you”. “I will”, said Wang, “You are number 1 customer – 9 to go”.
What an amazing experience. Cheered me up no end. When there is generosity in the world there is real hope. And how honest was Wang? He could easily have charged me – the other customer would have been none the wiser. Where there is integrity there is trust.
I suggested to Wang that he should think about changing the name of his café to Happy Wang’s. Sometimes the truth of things needs to be named – publicly.