few years ago, I seem to recall a story about researchers working
on a portable, available for purchase test that would basically
allow you to check decaffeinated coffee for the presence of caffeine.
shrugged not because I wasnít in some way interested, or because
I didnít see some value in the process. (I wasnít interested.
I could see some value in it based on specific circumstances for
specific individuals, but not on a mass market scale for everyone.)
Rather, I had two equal and opposite concepts in mind.
up, my theory about some places.
say you were in a diner. Itís about fifteen minutes before closing
time when you walk in. All youíre looking for is a cup of coffee
and a piece of pastry. Nothing fancy. Staff has been through a
long day, though no customers for the past few hours (for whatever
reason), and they had been working on shutting things down before
you arrived in the final moments of the day.
order a cup of decaffeinated coffee. They had already cleaned
that pot. What are the odds youíre getting decaf (as opposed to
a cup of regular coffee, which they still have ready, that they
will say is decaf)?
second, the idea of considering why you need to know.
What difference does it make to your world to know if the food
two thoughts operate in completely different areas, but you probably
can see the beginnings of an overlap.
it comes to my first scenario, I often wonder about the placement
of responsibility and accountability in certain situations. This
coffee at closing time example is fairly vanilla. You ordered
decaf, you should either get decaf or be told decaf isnít available.
I know for a fact, having spoken with many folks that worked in
places serving it, that a full-on-caffeinated cup of coffee has
on occasion been served to a customer requesting decaffeinated.
leave the idea right there, and not wander down the path of nasty
customers, absurd expectations, or poor service. All valid. All
not really related to where weíre headed. What we need to move
along is an idea we can all agree upon, which is people requesting
one thing can often get the other.
in turn lines up nicely with the second thought.
do you care? Is it decaf just because itís late? Or, is it decaf
because there is some reason why caffeine is being avoided?
so, decaffeinated coffee and an express test. Novelty idea. Right?
Just a novelty. (Right?)
I was growing up, I loved chicken salad sandwiches. On bread,
on toast, on sub rolls. Add some bacon and make a chicken salad
club. Crazy thing though. Those were the days when your chicken
salad was made of chicken salad.
you seen the reports about some sandwich places that question
whether the tuna being served is tuna? If youíre going to eat
ďimitationĒ something, why?
like to think that at as closing time approaches, we understand
that asking for a fresh pot of coffee to be made might be a bit
much. Is that true? No. Itís a request in a customer service industry.
But I also know that customers are not always right. Sure, treat
them kindly and with respect. Occasionally though, they deserve
being, most of the time, there appears to be more going on that
created the situation other than simply no decaf in the pot at
closing time. Why was it served? Why wasnít it served? Is someone
being a jerk in the exchange? Weíre not talking about just the
customer or just the staff, and frankly, weíre not simply talking
days however, we have folks that truly are making false claims.
Many times, because thereís more profit in the action. Which means
that if the action is to show something wrong, Iím applauding
the effort. We do need to be accountable and responsible for what
we do. But we seem to have moved beyond that, often into a gotcha
mentality approach, and giving a nasty gotcha specialist a decaf
testing device seems like itís asking for problems.
a shame. But is the saddest part that my chicken salad may not
be completely chicken salad? Is it that someone is trying to fool
me in order to make more money on their end? Or, is it something
else entirely? The answer may surprise you. (The last minute,
end of the day, non-decaf-decaf shouldnít.)