Turn Down the Sound? No Problem!

By Jim Whitt

I was meeting with a business associate at a coffee house one day and the music was so loud we were about to resort to sign language to converse. I walked up to the counter, got the attention of the barista and yelled, “Could you please turn the music down. We can’t hear each other talk!” He shook his head and yelled back, “We don’t have any control over the volume!”

Oh really? I suppose aliens on the planet Starbuck are beaming the music in. It reminded me of the opening narration of the old Outer Limits TV show, “There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume.”

It’s possible that I had a close encounter of the third kind and the barista may be from the home planet. If so, I have a suggestion for the management — please purchase him a return ticket the next time the mother ship visits Earth. I just want to enjoy a cup of coffee and be able to hear what is being said at my table.

I have a suggestion for establishments of any kind that play music over their sound system — turn it off! At least turn it down. Most of it sounds like really bad American Idol auditions played at eardrum bursting decibel levels. After you turn down the sound I suggest you tune into the customer. You are there for them, not the other way around. The volume and type of music should not be played for the pleasure of the staff. Once you have reduced the volume to a level where I can actually hear what you’re saying instead of having to read your lips I have some words you need to eliminate from your vocabulary: “No problem.” Also eliminate the slightly more verbal variation: “Not a problem.”

I hate making a benign request such as, “May I see a menu,” and having it answered with, “No problem.” Of course it’s not a problem! I’m the customer! If there is a problem, I’ll let you know. Please resolve it, quickly and with a smile on your face. And the words you need to use in place of no problem and not a problem are it’s my pleasure, yes sir, no sir, please and thank you…as in thank you for your business.

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