Time for a rant!*
Listen up, all you young whippersnappers who work in the fast food industry. I know they don't pay you nearly enough, but in the near future, when you go on to much bigger and better things, you will quickly learn to adapt to your workplace, in hopes of attaining advancement, by learning everything you can about your industry and your customers.
You already know this. So why not start right now?
As a customer, I don't care how old you are, what religion you are, or what your personal aesthetics are. If you serve coffee, please have some respect for the customers who come into your establishment and ask for it.
Here are some coffee basics:
1. Timing is Everything
Learn to tell, by taste and smell, when coffee has begun the biological process of turning into toxic waste. When it reaches that stage, IT'S TIME TO DUMP IT OUT AND CLEAN THE COFFEE MAKER. Scrub the inside of it every now and then. Just for the sake of good karma. Please. Keep that internal clock in your head, so that if you come in at 7:00 a.m. and make coffee, you'll know that before the lunch rush starts (10:30 or so), it would be a good idea to freshen things up in Coffeeland.
That's the first thing.
2. Here's what "Coffee-and" means
Feel free to take the initiative of asking the customer ahead of time if they want sugar, sweetener, and/or creamer for their coffee. You don't have to personally add any of these items. Most customers are perfectly content to take care of that themselves. But -- you must make these items available, either at the station where the napkins and straws are, or behind the counter. You should know what the customer means when they say "sweetener" or "creamer." These are not exotic items. Sweetener is not creamer and creamer is not sweetener. Some creamers are flavored, like French Vanilla, but the average fast-food customer knows how unlikely it is to find these things at your establishment. Finding half-and-half instead of artificial, chemically based creamer is enough of a rarity to make the average coffee-drinking customer think they've had a religious experience. Also, there really, truly is a reason why so many customers ask specifically for so many different types of sweeteners: sugar, Sweet-n-Low [PINK packets], Equal [BLUE packets] or Splenda [YELLOW packets]. No, they are NOT all the same. Equal, in particular, contains a substance that can cause severe medical problems for a certain segment of the population, so if someone asks specifically for Splenda or Sweet-n-Low, they are not just being a prima donna. Diabetics often have to make careful choices between sweeteners. Some of them contain sugar derivatives. If you don't have one particular type, just say so. It's okay. But don't assume they're all the same and give a customer Equal when they ask for Splenda. I guarantee, you have someone in your family for whom it makes a difference what type of sweetener they get, so just imagine your dearly beloved is being served at some establishment -- what would you expect them to do?
I know it's not Starbucks -- if it were, you'd be kicked to the curb if you dared try to serve the kind of dreck you get away with on a daily basis. But it's still your job. Learn about coffee. Make the world a calmer place.
3. One final bit of advice
Make eye contact and stop mumbling!
On behalf of beleaguered fast-food customers everywhere, I thank you.
*based on a visit to Burger King this morning, in case you were wondering.