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Uncouth Customers

Posted on Monday 5th March 2007 at 00:00
I'm reliably informed by the government and the media that we are heading towards a society of equality; that old social barriers are being broken down and that the average man (or woman) on the street views everybody he (or she) meets as an equal, regardless of financial standing, intelligence, qualifications, job status or sexual preference.

This is a most appealing view of Britain today, and one which I truly hope is accurate and on the increase in this country.

I'm very concerned, therefore, that in my work I encounter such a high proportion of customers who are rude, selfish, arrogant and generally most unbecoming towards me because they are ordering coffee and I am the one serving it. Now, I'm not saying that anywhere is perfect or that we can expect equal respect wherever we go just because the media says it is so, but this is really quite worrying.

I work in a staff only bar where the vast majority of patrons are academics. Lecturers, tutors and researchers all come in daily to have their great brains stimulated by our caffeine, and their stomachs filled with choice morsels, that they may have all the food for thought they could ever need. It should, by all accounts be so overindulged with IQ points that even the birds on the tree outside should feel their power, and leave in time to attend a recital of Shakespeare before the day grows tired.

It should not be a breeding ground for bad manners, rudeness and snobbery. Although I admit that many of the staff are very pleasant and polite, a whole lot more are quire shockingly uncouth. The sense of class difference being portrayed by these people is so extreme as to make a Dickens novel appear positively timid on the subject of social injustice.

Just because I am serving their coffees and teas, cleaning up after them and being polite and respectful at all times, apparently means I am to be sneered and looked down upon at every possible opportunity. It is quite likely that they've not even realised I am a student, and as such may just be on an intellectual par with them, and perhaps a better financial standing.

Most of all though, what their wasted brains appear to have failed to grasp is that in one very significant way, I am better than them. I'm good at my job. Not the best perhaps. Not mistake free all the time. But not even the French could tell me that I don't know how to make coffee, and make it well.

The majority of the lecturing staff on the other hand, can't teach. They are not qualified to do so, as no formal training in teaching is required at university level. They haven't a clue how to speak publicly, some of them. Many can't even keep a class awake for the first half an hour, and very few of them have discovered a way of actually allowing their students to learn anything.

No doubt they know something or other about their particular fields, but that's like me being able to quote you the price of a latte (?1.25) without having a clue about how to make one. Absolutely useless to everyone.

I've always believed that if for nothing else, you should respect a man (or woman) for being good at what he (or she) does, and for that reason, I think the greatest minds in Bristol should perhaps reconsider their re-adoption of middle class snobbery at a time when everyone else is trying to get rid of it.

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