Saturday, August 21, 2010

Something Social on Saturday

At this moment, I'm getting ready to do a photo shoot for a dear college friend of mine and I can promise you, I'm drinking coffee to stay awake.  Most of you will do the same today. 

As many of you head out for your weekend coffee shop dates or to study at some large coffee chain, I'd like to take a moment and recognize Lynne Rosenthal. 

Lynne did something that I've wanted to do in the past: She snapped back at a snappy coffee store employee. 

You can read about her story here. 

Now before you run off and decide that this Lynne lady is a lunatic, stop and think about if you've ever been embarrassed or publicly corrected by a restaurant or coffee shop employee.  I know that I certainly have. 

I was at a coffee chain a few weeks back and I placed an order for a "venti iced coffee" and looked down into my wallet to get out my payment.  When I looked up to see how much it was going to cost me, the person behind the counter was staring at me with a disgusted look on her face.  I figured she just hadn't heard me clearly so I repeated my order of one "venti iced coffee, please?" and was greeted with the same blank and moderately irritated stare. 

Finally she said, "I don't know what a venti is.  Would you like a large?"  This was not whispered.  This was not discreet.  The person in line behind me chuckled aloud.  I ordered my large iced coffee and left, flushed and embarrassed.  I have not since returned to that shop or that chain.  I hope I never have to.  I was mortified. 

It is not the fault of the consumer that all of these different conglomerates are naming their sizes differently.  It is not the responsibility of the barista to educate us.  If we (the consumer) make a mistake in our order, it is curteous to simply clarify what it is we are trying to order from your menu and move on

Don't ridicule us.  Don't embarrass us.  Don't escalate the situation any more. 

In my humble opinion, this Lynne customer was placing an incorrect order.  It may or may not have been justified for the barista to correct the customer, but I would estimate that the barista's attitude probably didn't help the situation.  Lynne was probably not being exceptionally nice about it, however taking the higher road is always the proper response to someone with an attitude problem like that. 

So while you're out at your mom 'n pop shops or your big corporate coffee warehouses this weekend, I challenge you to do a few things. 
  1. Smile at the person who is about to take your order. 
  2. Say "hello" or "good morning" to the person who is about to take your order. 
  3. If the person taking your order asks how your day is or how you are doing that day, respond back with "I'm doing great.  How are you doing?
  4. If the person does not ask you how you are doing, ask them anyway
Do not give that waiter/waitress or barista any reason to think you are a mean person or already in a bad mood.  Smiles and kindness are contagious. 

However (and I can say this because I worked in the food industry for 5 years) if your order is incorrect or the service was horrible (not just mediocre, it has to be downright despicable) then it is your responsibility as a patron to inform your waiter/waitress, barista, or a manager.  If the food is bad, the manager needs to correct the problem in the kitchen.  If the service is crappy, the manager needs to note the problem with the staff member.  If the bathroom is dirty, the cleaning staff needs to correct the health dangers. 

Just remember, "service with a smile" can start with the patron.  The nicer you (the customer) are to the service team, the higher the chance that they will be very quick to rememdy the situation and offer apologies. 

By the way, stop asking for free stuff.  It's rude.  It's petty.  It makes you look ignorant and cheap.  And unless you're severly injured or become ill due to something a restaurant has knowingly done, it's probably just an accident and they don't owe you a single thing.  All they should be doing is replacing an improper item with a proper one.  They are not required to comp your meal.  There is no rule stating they have to give you vouchers to come back again.  All of that stuff comes when you're nice to them and explain the situation calmly and truthfully. 

Oh yah, one last thing: Don't ever, ever, ever snap your fingers at a waiter/waitress or barista because that's the quickest way to get ignored. 

Eat happy! 


1 comment:

Miss K said...

It's crazy about all the hubbub about orders. Both the customer and the server should be nice to each other and respectful. There's bound to be confusion based on language of the industry, but that doesn't mean it's ok to be rude to someone when they are trying to clarify your needs. For example, Lynne could have been nicer and replied, just plain please and the barista could have had a better attitude in serving her just a plain bagel instead of making a big deal about the schmear of butter/cheese. Crazy how something simple can be turned into such an ugly situation.