In my never-ending search for topics to write about, I thought I’d ask the girls at the coffee shop I was at last week for some ideas. They suggested that I write about people who don’t clear their tables after using them.
This has given me two clear thoughts to deal with; firstly, the idea that people would feel so entitled that they couldn’t be bothered to take a few cups and napkins to the designated counter, and secondly, the idea that the ‘employees’ would feel like it isn’t really their job to keep the place clean and tidy.
This is a simple look at an underlying ideology that is eroding our society around us. We don’t think anyone should endure anything. Employees should only be expected to do the parts of the job they find fulfilling and easy, while consumers shouldn’t feel the burden of putting their own refuse in the trash.
Business models have changed, we pay more for our coffee these days than ever before, largely for the quality of the product and the ambience of the environment we buy it from. The servers are not waiters and waitresses, they are called ‘baristas’, and are trained to produce the luxurious caffeinated confections we adore so much. This new model has streamlined itself out of table service, so over and above the price we pay for the coffee, we also should be considerate of the other consumers and not leave a mess behind, even though it is not our responsibility.
I think in life, we can feel entitled in whatever it is we are doing, and expect that people’s courtesy in helping keep things tidy is their responsibility to us. On the flip side, we can also be presumptive in thinking that we have no cause for common courtesy if someone else is being paid to do something.
I wonder how many things in our life would produce more joy and quality of experience if we just embraced the idea of doing a little more, even when unnecessary, and expecting a little less, even when we’re paying for it.
I’m not suggesting we give up on customer service ideals, but I am suggesting that we intentionally show gratitude to those who do clean the proverbial tables, and a little less hostility to those who don’t, no matter which side of the equation we are on.
I’ve learned that being generous in my own effort, and gracious towards others is a good model to live by. If we are honest, we probably benefit from the grace of others more than we’d like to admit.