I spend a lot of my time in coffee shops, cafés and other public spaces. Hours and hours every single day. On top of that, my oldest now works as a barista at a local tea house and we talk about customers, behavior and her interactions with people. The good news is that 95% of the people who go into her café are pleasant and easy to work with. But at least once every 30 minutes there’s someone who is just a pain, someone who seems to think the world revolves around them and that any hiccup in their request is a personal affront.
You know the type of person I mean. You probably stand, aghast, watching and listening to them just as I do. Listen to them harangue the person taking their order, complaining about the cookie choices, kvetching about how their beverage is too hot or too cold. It’s like Goldilocks and the Three Bears gone mad!
Well, maybe it’s not quite that bad. 🙂
But still, as someone who is friendly with people around me, I’m very aware of the problem, and the people who bring the problem to our world.
The most recent variation on the theme are people who don’t clean up their own tables. I’ve decided that there are two classes of slobs: the clueless, and the entitled. Clueless people are those who just don’t realize it’s their responsibility to throw away their dirty napkin, put their cup in the dishes bin, and even maybe neaten up their chair when they depart.
It’s the entitled people who bug me much more, however. Like the mum with toddler who sat and chatted with her friend for an hour, then just up and walked away, leaving her table, well, like this:
I know, you’re thinking “jeez, cut her a break, it’s hard to have a little one!” but I’ve been there too. Three times. And I never expected someone else to clean up my mess or my child’s mess. And what bugs me isn’t even the floor — though that’s a five second swipe with a napkin to clean up — but the table, where it’s impossible not to notice the mess when you get up.
And I was sitting next to this mum, so I can assure you that it wasn’t a child meltdown and race out the door situation. Just a nice chat over tea with her friend followed by a leisurely departure to proceed with their day. And leave a mess for the café staff to clean up.
Problem is, that’s wrong. And it’s also terrible modeling for her child. Someday. The solution is easy: pay attention, be present in the world around you, and don’t expect others to clean up your mess.
Jeez. That’s not hard.