BEWARE: That restaurant coffee cup might just be the taste of death!

Jul 24, 2013

Ok, so maybe the title of this post might be a bit too final but there is definitely some truth to this.  For me, it’s based on real life experiences and I’ve got to the point where I just think something should be said.  And what better way to do that then to just blog about it :)

First off, I’m not a germaphobe.  I don’t carry around a hanky, wet one, or sanitizer bottle cleaning off every tap or door handle that I have to touch.  In fact, in most cases I’m pretty cool with whatever comes my way.  If anything, being that worried about germs is actually destroying your bodies natural defenses.  Our bodies create anti-bodies every time we get sick or catch a cold so that we don’t get sick the next time we are exposed to that exact same strain of germs.

But I do have limits on what I am willing to tolerate…and restaurant coffee cups bother me the most.

It’s not the cup itself that is at fault.  After all, how can you blame that lovely porcelain, plastic, glass, or whatever else your coffee mug is made of, cup on anything.  It’s done nothing wrong.  It’s innocent in it’s dealings with you.  However, it’s handler is not innocent, and there in lies the

See, when I was in University paying for my schooling as a waiter, I instinctively always seemed to understand the ins and outs of the what and what not to do’s of serving my customers.  I was always polite, I treated them like royalty, and I was always happy and conversational even if I had had a bad day.

These were my customers and I took pride and ownership in doing the best possible job I could for them.  I was pretty happy with the way I was doing things and my customers liked me.  But one customer in particular liked me a lot.

One day, Bill (not his real name), started coming into the restaurant and asking for me to be his server each and every time he came in.  I just thought he liked me because I was pleasant to deal with.  He became a regular of mine and I, have to admit, started to really enjoy my conversations with him each and every Friday night that he came into the restaurant.

On one particular Friday night he came in much later than usual.  The dinner rush was over and he felt inclined to ask me something that had never occurred to me.  He said “Frederic, have you ever thought of starting a waitering school?”  As I was only working at the restaurant to get through University, laughing I said “No, I haven’t.  Not really something I’m interested in…why do you ask?

It was then that he proceeded to explain to me why he always asked for me when he came in to eat.  And his explanation all started with how I served him coffee.

See, I may have instinctively understood the ins and outs of serving customers, but I also understood the ins and outs of serving food in a sanitary way.

What do I mean by this?  Bill’s main point was that  I served his coffee by holding the handle or the base of the cup.  NOT from the rim.

I don’t think it ever occurred to me up until this point just how right it was for me to be serving in this way.  Wasn’t that obvious?  Why would you serve a customer a coffee cup that you had handled from the rim…the area in which your customer’s mouth was going to be drinking from.

After all, you had just cleaned the table next to you, taken out food to the next table over, just picked your nose, or better yet, as was the case when I worked at a restaurant, had just cleaned the urinals before having to serve my customers a nice hot cup of coffee.

(That’s right, in many places servers are responsible for cleaning up the bathrooms during their shift) I don’t think your customers would appreciate you not cleaning your hands properly before serving you a nice cup of coffee handled from the rim of your nice new clean coffee cup…but that’s just me.

Anyway, this comment has stuck with me ever since that day and I’ll bet you, that 9 out of 10 times, the server you encounter in a restaurant will serve or bring you your coffee cup by holding onto the rim before placing it on your table.

I challenge you to look out for this the next time you’re in a restaurant.  I think you will be shockingly surprised just how accurate this little tidbit of information is going to be for you the next time you think about drinking from a coffee cup that has been served this way.

The thing is there is NO SUCH THING AS A WAITERING SCHOOL.  The program, Serving it Right, has nothing to do with service skills…it has to do with how and when to serve your customers alcohol. It doesn’t teach servers the correct way of handling cups so that their customers next sip isn’t the…well…taste of death from being exposed to the “who knows what” that they have just touched before serving you.

Actually…come to think of it…if your coffee cup is being handled this way, don’t forget about your water glasses, utensils, plates…ummmm….actually….maybe it’s best I stop before any of you decide to never frequent a restaurant again :)