I was at work the other day and this old guy said to me, “I’d like a cup of strong coffee.” And I smiled and I said, “Yes sir,” and I went back into the kitchen and came out with a cup of coffee. I put it down in front of him with a little milk and I said, “Here you go sir, one cup of strong coffee.”
Guess what? It was just regular coffee. He made a point to order his coffee strong, whatever that means, and I also made it a point to deliver his coffee, repeating the word strong back to him as I set it down on the table. By my logic, his strong and my strong effectively cancelled each other out.
Listen old timer, I don’t know how restaurants did things back in the twenties, but what you think you’re exactly going to accomplish by telling your waiter that you want a cup of strong coffee? What do you think, we have different options back there? Strong, medium, weak? Who would order a cup of weak coffee?
Although, now that I’m thinking about it, it would probably make actually a little more sense to order some weak coffee. I’d just cut it with hot water. There you go, weak coffee. Although, I don’t know why anybody would drink weak coffee. Or decaf even. If you don’t like that caffeine kick that accompanies regular coffee, well then I just don’t understand where you’re coming from, what your idea of life is all about.
But the strong coffee guy, I put down that cup, I looked into his eye, I tried as best as I could to nonverbally communicate, hey mister, I heard you say strong coffee, yeah, and guess what? This is regular coffee. I’m almost daring him to call me out on it. “Waiter! I asked for strong coffee!”
And I’d just be like, “That is strong coffee.” Because strong is a subjective word. If I found myself in the unlikely scenario where I’d have to defend my position, I could genuinely say, sorry buddy, sorry boss, I thought our coffee was strong. I thought that was a pretty strong cup of coffee.
But all the while I’d be making that same eye contact, that same kind of half grin, like if you’d look at me you’d think, this guy’s either trying to be really friendly, or a huge dick. And of course it’d be the huge dick look. Because as soon as you start making my job that much more difficult, with your strong coffee request, I’m automatically not at your service anymore. I mean, I’ll still do my job.
But I’ll be looking at you dead in the eye, and all I’m trying to say to you is, what exactly is it that you expect from the service industry? You’re just coming in here and automatically assuming that the strength of our coffee isn’t up to your standards, that you’d like me to go back to our one industrial sized coffee machine, empty the whole thing out, make a fresh pot with extra coffee, just so you can take a sip and probably still flag me down and complain that it’s not strong enough?
And then what, I’ll have to go back into the kitchen and listen to my boss start shouting at everybody, “Hey! Who made this last batch of coffee? Why did you use so much coffee? Everyone’s complaining. And look, there were too many coffee grounds, they all got in the machine. Come on guys, this stuff is portioned out individually for a reason!”
It’s funny because, they actually have a whole industry set up for people who are particular about their coffee. Yeah, you can just go to Starbucks or some other coffee shop and they’d probably know exactly what you’re talking about when you ask for your strong coffee.
It’s like people that come in and ask for a stiff cocktail. You know what? All of that stuff is portioned out also. You want free booze? Too bad, buy another drink. And that just gave me another idea, hey Mr. Strong Coffee, get a shot of espresso. Or even better, order a red-eye. Stop trying to get free strong out of me.
Give me a half-regular, half-decaf. All right, all decaf for you. I’d like a thick steak. You’re just getting a regular steak. Give me a nice sized baked potato. You’re getting whatever baked potato the line cook is closest to. I’ll have a sweet soda. What do you think I’m mixing the syrup back there?
OK, nobody ever asked for a sweet soda. But come on, just order like a regular person. People ask me for crazy stuff and I just want to be like, come on, stop asking me for crazy stuff. Stop asking me things in general. Just point to what you want on the menu and that’s it.