I have learned to extend a certain amount of grace for my customers. About 99% of the people I see in a day are hungry and under-caffeinated- a condition whose symptoms include confusion, social dysfunction, and irritability. I remind myself that it wasn’t him that spilled his latte, or changed his order a dozen times, or insulted my intelligence- it was the hunger. The most irritating of these under-caffeinated behaviors, however, is a person’s complete lack of spacial awareness. I answer the questions do you have a menu? can I have a lid? where is the sugar? and my personal favorite do you have a restroom? I get that you’re tired, but there are signs. Let me help you look for them.
I discussed menus in an earlier post, but let me give a quick summary: there is a menu. Always. If there isn’t, I’m very sorry that I mislead you and that the shop you are in is a little pretentious. Just take a second to slow down and look. Once you’ve exhausted all the common locations (large wall mounted board, small menu box, other customers), then you should ask the barista.
All cafes will have menus; likewise, all cafes will have a condiment bar. It confuses customers that the condiment bar is not exactly where they receive their drink. There is a reason for this. If we set up sugars, milks, lids and straws where we expo all of the drinks, it would be a nightmare. We move customers away from our bar so that it is free of clutter and empty Splenda packets. Condiment bars are fairly conspicuously set up. Somewhere there will be a table or a bar. On this bar will be baskets/boxes of sugar packets and large metal containers labeled Half & Half (sometimes abbreviated H&H) and Skim (sometimes NonFat or NF). Somewhere near this area, there may be trash cans. In my shop, there are two. One is labeled Trash, the other Recycle. These signs are never regarded, thus both containers are filled with food, liquid, and all manner of garbage.
Every time someone asks me if we have restrooms, I want to laugh. What kind of cruel joke would that be. Here’s your coffee, sir! Now, remember to take it slow. That’s gonna run right through you, but we don’t have a restroom. Sorry about that. That would be one way to avoid the all day campers, I guess. There is a simple solution to this commonly asked question and you can find it in nearly every public place. On a door may be an image of a person. This person may be wearing a skirt. It will have a simple word denoting the designated gender for that particular room.
Other signs people never see include “Employees Only,” “Private,” or “Closed.” There are many unposted signs that people ignore like, “please don’t let your dog walk on the patio tables,” “please don’t give that bran muffin to your 3 year old, it will just end up on the floor,” or “you purchased hot tea so maybe give it a few minutes or you will burn your mouth, yes like that.”