Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Communication Breakdown

Last week, Common Ground, a great little independent coffeeshop up the street, received a letter from someone saying that they probably won't be returning to their establishment because the tattooed and dreadlocked young women were blasting music.

The letter goes on to say that music in a coffeeshop should be "unobstrusive", suggesting that they play classical music and save the loud stuff for "bars and student hang outs." What if someone wanted to "have a chat or read," hmmm?

You should go read the letter. They have it hanging on the wall, and there's a pen hung by it so you can respond to the letter. It's signed (no last name) but there was no return address.


A customer at the CG pointed out, "Some people just feel that every place they go to must cater to them." That's what they mean by the customer is always right, right? As a street of mostly independent businesses, all screaming their own personalities, we'd be nowhere if we became as bland as a mall. And yet, so many people really do seem to want sanitized sameness, where nothing and no one out of the ordinary will disturb them from their own little world.

All the responses written around the letter from the CG clientele are great, whether they're crude venting (someone drew a little penis on it) or thoughtful comments. It's like a message board of old. And overwhelmingly for Common Ground to stay the course.

And speaking of individuality in business and a healthy customer service attitude click on Kottke's musings on Shopsin's and their policy on parties of five:

It doesn't matter if one of you
offers to leave or if
you say you could split into
a party of three and a party of two
or if the five of you come back tomorrow
in Richard Nixon masks and try to pretend
that you don't know each other
It won't work: You're a party of five
even if you're a beloved regular
Even if the place is empty
Even if you bring logic to bear
Even if you're a tackle for the Chicago Bears
it won't work
You're a party of five
You will always be a party of five
Ahundred blocks from here
a hundred years from now
you will still be a party of five

5 comments:

jayfish said...

i find it ironic that a person would send a complaint to a place called common ground.

oh yeah, if you can find it, check out the documentary "i like killing flies". it's about shopsin's.

Rachel said...

Ohmygod, can't wait to see it! I put it on my Netflix queue but there's no release date yet.

geekpunk said...

I havent been to common ground in a while.... but its always been a cool chill place. Its funny this concept of sanatized / consistant business. My older brother loves starbucks, he lived in annapolis w/ tons of great indie coffee houses, and he still goes out of his way to go to starbucks. So I ask him why, and his response, is consistancy, which is just sad. Personality / life / passion is less consumer friendly then consistancy i suppose.

lisah said...

You know I've been to restaurants where the music is too loud and, if it is really bothering me (this has happened just a few times), I ask them to turn it down. They can or not. If they didn't I'd just think they were assholes and not go back, but that's never happened. The restaurant people always apologize and turn the music down a bit and I'm extra happy with the service and tell everybody how nice the people at that restaurant are.

I imagine the letter writer didn't even bother to ask the girls to turn the stereo. Instead he or she probably huffed and puffed obsessively about the loud music for days and could think of nothing except how abused they'd been by the coffee shop employees.

Also, Starbucks coffee is consistent--consistently burnt-tasting and gross.

lisah said...

Oh and I'd never try to tell some establishment what kind of music they should play!