Ask The Salty Waitress: Why Do I Have To Remove My AirPods To Order Coffee?

Dear Salty, I was at the coffee shop counter, and the cashier wouldn't take my order until I took off my AirPod! And it was only in one ear! Am I the asshole here?


Oh, Kevin, you sad, foolish little soul. Where do I even begin? [Takes a deep breath.] I am trying hard here to give you the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps you were in the middle of a very important phone call/podcast/guitar riff that could not be paused for the 30 or so seconds it takes to order a cup of coffee. In which case, you very politely step aside to conclude your business and then order your coffee. Or, if you happen to be at a Starbucks or Dunkin' or another coffee shop that is very proud of the way it has harnessed modern smartphone technology, you order your coffee on the app, and then you pick it up silently and efficiently, without having to interrupt whatever it is that is so important you cannot stop to speak to another human being.

Because that's the thing, sweetie pie. THE CASHIER IS A HUMAN BEING! JUST LIKE YOU! Their role in your life may be temporary and functional, but they've got feelings and hopes and dreams and aspirations. And like you (probably) they would like your full and undivided attention while you ask them to perform a service for you. (This goes for all service workers, by the way. And it goes both ways.) Not only is this kindness and good manners—and the world could really use a bit more of both of those, pumpkin, wouldn't you agree?—it's also a way to make sure that your order is conveyed accurately so that you get exactly the cup of coffee that you want. Which is really the main reason you should remove your earbud—sorry, AirPod. But the Golden Rule part—"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"—is nice, too.

Thank you and have a nice day.

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