It’s a Friday night, cold and wet. The day’s been long and the little beast inside your stomach has started screaming for the satisfaction only food can provide. You opt for a dash of cafe cuisine to stay the little bastard, keep him happy for yet another night.
Like all establishments along the Rundle Street precinct, the cafe of your choice is packed to the brim and table options are few and far between. Do you sit at the table near the door and subject yourself to the ice of the air as it blows through, or opt to reside next to the sleazy old guy surfing porn on his new MacBook, his meal next to him going cold through lack of interest while his overpowering body odours waft violently around him? You are starving. The old guy seems a better prospect than a constant shiver. You sit.
Shit. You don’t have a menu. That’s right, you have to go up to the counter and get your own. Hmmmpf, so much for being comfortable. Menus gathered, perused and decisions made (stomach monster really screaming now), it’s time to order. Your mouth is watering at the prospect of a warm feed, the only obstacle now being the 400m long line at the food counter where you are relegated to stand for (minutes/hours?) on end, waiting, waiting and waiting some more. The monster is not happy. You wonder to yourself why you would even wish to subject yourself to all this effort just to pay this establishment a premium for their miniscule effort (or inconvenience?) of having to cook your meal. (I mean lets face it, that’s pretty well all they have to do). It’s up to you to do your own waiting after all…
It’s Saturday, lunchtime and the little bugger’s stirring again. Your at Mitcham shopping centre and head for Billy Baxters. Small but comfortable you choose your table and sit. A waitress comes over, asks if you would like drinks. Your taken aback a little, perhaps even confused. “Not yet thanks.” “OK”, she says, “I’ll come back in a minute.” A little stunned you carry on perusing the menu which was already sitting on the table when you arrived. Nice selection of products and a very reasonable price. It seems today, that eating out won’t be that much of an effort. Your waitress comes back, takes your order and heads off to the kitchen to have your meal prepared. In no time it is back. Well cooked, well presented and mouth watering to eat.
Midway through the meal you are asked of you want anything else and upon saying no, your bill is brought to the table, well written and easy to understand. The food was fabulous, the staff wonderful and friendly. You can’t help but smile as you walk to the register to pay. You notice a jar on the counter, half full of coins – tips for the staff. You find yourself unconsciously reaching into your pocket to pull out some coins to add to the building collection.
As the world moves on I’ve noticed an ever increasing lack of service in many places. Not just restaurants but banks, stores and supermarkets are taking on a strategy that makes the customer do most of the work. Their responsibilities and staff overheads decrease, their prices still manage to rise regularly, and your work as a consumer increases all the more. I guess you could say that it all started with the whole concept of self serve at the service station. I can still remember (age coming to the forefront now), when someone was there to pump your petrol for you. I wonder when it’s going to stop or even if it ever will. There seems no justification for it as we as consumers still flock to these places to throw our efforts and our money at them.
I write this article because I feel compelled to let everyone know that, like Billy Baxters at Mitcham shopping centre, there are still places we can go where you not only get good product, but good service as well. Head over there and have a feed one day – you won’t be disappointed and may even find yourself wondering why you too, continue to do all the work for someone else’s profit increases while being subjected to an arrogance that seems to be becoming the definition for the term service.