Most people who frequently visit Starbucks are familiar with Donna Singleton, who has worked there for nearly 11 years.
Singleton’s bright personality and ability to connect with customers has made her one of the most well-known and revered employees at USI. When she was unable to work due to COVID-19, she told her daughter that if retirement is the same, she will have to make plans to avoid boredom.
“(The college students) keep me young,” Singleton said.
With newly implemented social distancing, frequent sanitizing, and mask requirements, things at Starbucks have changed a lot.
Before COVID-19 restrictions were implemented, Singleton warmly greeted customers and took their orders as a cashier. Because students are no longer able to order at the register, Singleton now helps prepare orders as a barista.
“I miss that interaction, you know, and I hope that it comes back because I enjoy being around college students,” Singleton said.
She said she’s still had successful interactions with customers, especially with students who remember her from previous years. She still gets tickled listening to conversations students have amongst themselves while waiting on their drinks.
She knows some students are far from home for the first time and just need someone to look them in the eyes and talk to them.
She also said she has gotten to know who likes to cut up and have fun and who simply wants their order. When Singleton’s own children graduated, she was overjoyed but said it saddens her a bit when students graduate and leave. Donna said it is a joy to see students she has gotten to know over the years grow and graduate.
“While they can’t see your smile, a lot of times you can see a smile in the eyes,” Singleton said. “Don’t be afraid to make eye contact.”