I remarked that the newly constructed Dunkin (formerly known nationally as Dunkin’ Donuts) looked clean and inviting. And it did. I pulled in.
Sammy didn’t say anything but, “Ooooh, coffee.” We usually agree on coffee stops and are typically equally excited about the next one. My new second-cup-of-coffee-of-the-day ordering paradigm was in full force.
I most commonly drink black coffee, but since retiring, I’ll order it a couple of times a week with one cream and one sugar. It is but one weak strategy to help me avoid buying a doughnut.
I treat the slightly sweetened coffee as a dessert. It doesn’t always work. Sometimes, I order both. I am a weak vessel.
I found a nice parking space some distance from the door, and it wasn’t raining all that hard, so the walk was a welcome stretch after the one-hundred-fifteen-mile drive.
I had consumed one cup of coffee that morning at six-thirty in a small cafe in Hampden. The kind and conscientious server topped it off several times. The reality is that I more than likely consumed at least two coffees. Estimating refill volumes can be tricky; it’s best to wave off the fly-by coffee bombers after their second run. There are times when I am so engrossed in operating my fork that I can’t quite put my flat palm over the top of the mug—it’s the international sign for no more coffee, please.
With the clock on the dash tickling the hairs on chinny-chin-chin of nine a.m., I felt the need to stop and use the facilities regardless of my desire for just one more infusion of bean juice.
The interior looked sparkling, and I have been in a few shops where I could not have said that. As I walked toward the bathroom door, a male cashier carrying a keychain rushed around the counter’s edge and beat me— hands down— in an unplanned foot race across the room, reaching the knob before I did.
“You’re gonna need this to get in there,” with that, he held up a key and then unlocked the door, even holding it open for me.
“Ahhh, it’s a city bathroom,” I said, walking inside and turning to my right to look for the light switch. Automatic, motion-sensing electrified illumination revealed that the bathroom was spotless.
I’ve been away from problematic day-to-day conundrums for a while, but Lewiston has problems similar to those in the city where I retired. Urban settings are stricken with the residual effects of a drug epidemic. It impacts workers and probably drives many of them out of those jobs that make our lives easier and better— caffeinated.
The company’s obvious strategy was keeping the bathroom clean by ensuring people entered that room for the right reason. I must have had that look, and the clerk probably observed my fleet-footedness as I approached my destination.
I gave him a facial expression indicating I could feel his pain, as I had seen the deplorable conditions of many bathrooms with no gatekeeper.
I couldn’t put that into words; I’m not a great speech writer, so I attempted to indicate the sentiment with my face. I used my eyes and contorted lips to silently show I was disappointed he had to take time out of his day to do this. The words that followed were just, “Thanks so much.”
The man indeed receives minimal benefits, and by me showing up burdened with previous coffee ingestion, I had made his job more complex. There was a line at the counter. Even slipping away for a second could increase the ire of those waiting for their first cup of the day.
Oh, by the way, he smiled. I may not have done the same thing under those circumstances. He then turned and shuffled back to his serving position.
I am familiar with why some bathrooms must be locked. In my old life, I learned that many public restrooms get trashed because people— other than paying patrons— sometimes utilize public restrooms for activities related to ingesting and injecting narcotics.
Besides the occasional and tragic discovery of a dead body, those clerks live through the full, technicolor, 3D aftermath of the condition in which some patrons leave the restroom.
Much of that problematic mayhem includes the improper aim of everything the human body must evacuate. I hate to be blunt, but it’s true.
There’s not a cop on the planet who has not had to answer the call to remove a customer from a public restroom after staff couldn’t get them to come out after far too long inside. Subsequently, they are accustomed to seeing the catastrophic results when occupants finally unlock the door voluntarily or under duress.
Most restaurants don’t have a separate janitorial staff. They have low-paid teams doing double duty, serving first the patrons, then sometimes cleaning up double doody.
Once I scrubbed my hands, I sauntered to the counter and placed my order. “Medium hot, one and one.”
He punched the order into the register; it was an effortless task, arguably not worthy of a tip beyond his hourly wage. The tipping dilemma is front and center in social media complaints. It garners easy likes; I’m sometimes on the fence about it.
The staff shuffling around on the other side of the counter worked feverishly to fill the order, placing it quickly and correctly at the pick-up counter. The coffee was less than three bucks.
I threw an additional four bucks into the mug on the counter. The clerk smiled and said thank you. I said, “Thank you for letting me in the bathroom without complaint. It was spotless.”
You see, I didn’t tip him for his most straightforward task of the day, being the unshaven face of a national franchise and punching a couple of buttons. I tipped him for the things that too often slip my mind when I use a clean restroom or find the table with one short leg wiped clean by some unseen force.
That’s why we tip. We give that little extra for the chores before and after our visit. Sometimes, we can’t. There have been many times I am short of funds to reward them for their long day mopping, sweeping, and unlocking the doors. When you can, remember that their day does not revolve around you and your passive addiction to dark roast. There’s much more that goes into that coffee than one cream and one sugar. Consider it.
That’s all I’ve got.
From the Jagged Edge of America, I remain,
*Thanks for reading and all your support for my efforts in the realm of the written word. I appreciate all of you.