She may not know their name, but she knows their coffee.
Cheryl Howard is the always-pleasant, all-knowing coffee and tea master at Tim Hortons On the Go at St. Joseph’s Hospital. More often than not, she has the order of a staff member or physician ready before they step up to the counter, delivered with a smile and perhaps an uplifting message on the lid. There’s no better boost than starting your day with “Miss Wow” on the top of your coffee, say some customers.
“People are creatures of habit,” says Cheryl. “It makes it easy.”A bright spot in the hectic morning caffeine run, Cheryl figures she knows more than 200 coffee or tea orders by heart. If a regular changes it up for their afternoon fix, she knows that too.
Obviously, Cheryl has a well-brewed talent, not to mention super sweet customer service. But there’s more to it. She makes it a point of memorizing orders and challenges herself to increase it by one person each week.
“I watched my nana go through dementia – it was scary - so I try my best to keep my brain active.”
Not only does Cheryl know the orders of dozens of staff and physicians from every corner of the hospital, she knows what the regular courier takes, or residents in the neighbourhood who routinely come in for their java.
Ask her about the weirdest coffee order and she is quietly circumspect, not wanting to betray a loyal customer. She reveals two unusual orders of individuals no longer here –half steeped tea, half coffee, the other a large coffee, two cream, six sweetners, and 10 more on the side.
A Compass Group employee at St. Joseph’s Hospital for the past seven years, Cheryl says she feels appreciated by her customers. She has received much acknowledgement, thank you cards, even flowers, from staff.
Wearing a splint on one hand, Cheryl explains she has tendinitis in her thumb from overuse pushing the various buttons and lifting the heavy carafes. But she says she has received great advice from physicians at the Roth McFarlane Hand and Upper Limb Centre.
Cheryl has actually never been a patient of the Roth McFarlane Centre. The advice is provided over-the-counter with a dose of concern as the physicians await their order. They remind her to use two hands to pour the heavier carafes and provide other suggestions to avoid strain.
A humble Cheryl, doesn’t think she does anything special. There’s no doubt, however, her greatest gift is just how special she makes everyone feel with every cup. That’s because Cheryl is the true “Miss Wow”.