Dig if you will this picture: You cozy up to the bar at one of Portland’s 9,563 coffee shops or liquor establishments with a mind toward that first blast of caffeine to help get you through your miserable day or that first sting of booze to help wash away the memories of your miserable day. And what are you met with? Casual indifference. Barely masked contempt. Facial expressions that allllllmost veer into deeply frustrated eye rolls and sighs.
Yes, friend: You made the mistake of walking into a place of business to exchange money for goods and services. Those folks behind the counter are going to make you realize the error of your ways with each mumbled reply to your questions and every shrug at your attempt at pleasantries. That’ll show you!
Listen, Portland customer service people, I get it. There are a lot of dipshit tourists wandering our streets clutching pink boxes of Voodoo Doughnuts to their chests and wondering aloud if Fred Armisen still lives here. There’s also a lot of asshole locals who can’t be bothered to set their smartphone aside for two seconds and read a goddamn menu. And, yes, it’s a real bummer that you have to steam milk or pull a tap for not very much money when you could be home working on your passion projects or getting high and binge-watching Desus & Mero. But we need to come to some kind of compromise here.
Somewhere there’s a comfortable middle ground between the studied disregard you evince from underneath your ironic eyewear and home haircut, and the sugar-rush ingratiating of a Dutch Bros. employee shoving their perfectly coiffed head in my car window so they can quiz me about my plans for the rest of the day/week/year/millennium. We don’t need to become besties or even know anything about one another, beyond the fact that we stand on opposite sides of a bar engaging in a transaction that will take up, at most, 10 minutes out of our respective days.
And it doesn’t take much! Some pleasantries. A reasonable amount of small talk. Or, at the very least, a facial expression that doesn’t look like you’d just as soon kneecap me as make me a goddamn latte. Keep the fancy foam art and the cocktails that require 14 separate ingredients to make. Just give me a little common courtesy and when I scribble out some approximation of my signature on that iPad, and I might just consider going above a 20 percent gratuity for your efforts.