Coffeehouses – and Priests and Doctors: to Serve or to Service

We all know servants. It is not alone the rich family, or the top politician, or the Royals in Europe and elsewhere, not only those who have butlers are familiar with the importance and dedication of a servant, for not only butlers are servants. We all know priests or pastors, doctors and restaurants that serve.

There are plenty of theologians that feel they have been chosen, called, set apart by a power higher than the one bestowed upon them through credentials given by universities to exercise a right to preach, marry and counsel. There are plenty of medicine practitioners who just the same feel chosen, called upon by the voice of humanity to assist individuals as well as masses in their need to find health, be it through medicine, counsel or warm hands, hearts and eyes. They provide more and deeper healing than years of academic studies, testing and conferences could ever teach, on their way towards obtaining the tittle of a Medical Doctor.

Plenty of localities prepare food for strangers. Nevertheless, there are only some in which those strangers feel instantly blessed, at home and enchanted by the food and the way it is cooked, given and presented. Priests, Internists or Cooks, they could all live in the hearted and minded convictions that they are servants to humanity, here to serve and not just exercising a profession, not just servicing to wants and needs for monetary or any other types of rewards. Those who feel an honest and modest calling have a more transcendental, spiritual and responsible approach and thus give their undivided attention to what the soul of the recipient wants and needs.

A New York classic designed by Leslie Buck. This ‘Anthora’ coffee cup has been a coffee symbol in New York since its introduction in the 1960s.

I have seen many serve, I have seen many service. Those doing service often fail to see how they mistreat, insult and at times simply oversee the individual on the receiving end. They live not by the existential desire to contribute to the energy flow in all, but rather abide by their right to obtain their salary and regularly find the need to express a few sentences and phrases to display their servicing roles and clearly pronounced realm of duties.

“That’s not my job”
“That’s our policy”
“That’s not my problem.”

(Notice the ‘that‘ putting a distance between subject and job/duty.)

There are several ways of us knowing if we are either serving or servicing those who come to us with material, mental, physical or many other needs. If we wish to have our customers feel welcomed, feel that we appreciate their financial support to our business, but also that we appreciate them as beings and foremost that we want their well-being, we will only invite our guests to dwell in spaces that provide the proper setting for dwelling. Even when many just pass by in our contemporary to-go society, those seconds or fractions of seconds ought to be heavenly ones.

Do you service a King? Do you serve a car? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I observe that we often do not know what it means to serve, even in simple, as well as professional positions that require precisely the attention of a one who serves.

The simplest transactions of depositing checks or retrieving cash at a Bank, requires that a window at the entrance does not insult the customer with the view of spilled coffee that has not been cleaned for days and makes it look more like an abandoned coffee station than a bank entrance.

First view: June 13th, 2012
Two days later (6.15.2012) a bottle of water and more paper had been added.
Tree days later the cup and the water bottle have been removed. The coffee spill and paper soaked with coffee are still there.
Four days later some of the coffee soaked paper has been removed.
Six days later is the coffee spill still there, plus some paper rubbish has been added.

Please Notice that the following is NOT an Art Installation, but an eating locality. I have been walking by for more than 9 months and their chairs are still wrapped in the protective plastic they came with.

Chairs that have been in their wrapping for at least 9 months, while each day customers come in and are serviced sitting on them

A highly relevant point in any industry is the use of proper utensils. This is also applicable in the gastronomy. Otherwise the impression might arise that the sole goal of the business is to make money, while the customer is of no importance at all. Even of higher importance is to know about the products being sold in any particular locality, long before starting to serve or even service customers. In the same restaurant where I photographed the following cup with the wrong saucer, I asked for a cortado, just as it stays in their menu. The lady asked me if that was a juice, although it is an espresso with very little milk and a bit of froth.

An Espresso served in the proper demitasse, but the cup placed on a dessert plate, instead of being placed on the proper matching saucer.
Dessert plate, instead of espresso saucer.
Plastic flatware will destroy the pleasure on any food.

If individuals do not have the capability to understand the difference between ‘to serve‘ and ‘to service‘, then it is clearly the responsibility of the management to know it and implement the difference clearly. Employee, employer and customer, all will profit from such clarity.

Coffee Dramatist deals obviously with coffee, but coffee is used as the main example with which to transport the ideas we see as most effective and uplifting within a holistic approach to life. As a result the core of this thoughts is not coffee, but serving. The core is that we need and deserve to be served and should only serve. There is as much need for plain service and bad service in our coffee houses, as there is a need for servicing and abusive priests and doctors.