I went to Café Dépôt.
You can’t blame me. I’d been translating sales pitches for three days straight and I could hardly open my mouth without “Opportunity” “Relational” or “Personalised” coming out.
I needed coffee, and I needed to get back to work right quick.
Now the coffee at Café Dépôt isn’t great. OK, I wouldn’t even call it “good”. It’s coffee. Like Tim Horton’s Coffee, more or less. (Which, as my coworker once exclaimed on his first taste: “Tim Horton’s Coffee is horrible! I’m not even kidding. It’s like… stuff for miners and such”.
What I really object to, though, is the terrible service and complete lack of people skills exhibited by staff. I ordered a coffee and since I was peckish I decided to try out a salad. I had never ordered food there. The cashier takes my order, and asks the female coworker to prepare a salad. Greek salad, if you must know. Visibly ticked off she barked back: “I’m busy. Can’t you see I’m doing something?”
I’m right here, folks!
Apparently cleaning the espresso machine’s coffee stains off the nozzle was crucial and time-critical work that prevented her from making a salad anytime soon. Maybe I should have waited, but cranky as I am I said forget the salad. The cashier apologized but I was way too annoyed to buy anything else. If he hadn’t been pouring the coffee while trying to entice his coworker to do her job, I wouldn’t have bought that either. It wasn’t his fault, of course, but I was so turned off by the experience that I had to wonder how they kept in business with Starbucks a couple of blocks away where my favourite barista Catherine will gladly pour me a cup of actually decent coffee with a smile and a flourish. Or even Tim Horton nearby with cheap coffee and a chance to win stuff under every rim? What is their business strategy, anyway?
As I was heading back to the office with my searing hot cup of below average coffee I couldn’t help by wonder why, as a general rule, service is so bad in Montreal restaurants, cafés and bars.
I’m comparing them with my experiences in the US, where, no matter the quality of food at any Applebee’s or even out of the way diners is far and away better than some of the classiest joints in Montreal.
It just makes no sense at all. Here, in a small town in upstate New York, where the entire town can only boast 3 restaurants, the service is excellent, but in a city like Montreal with thousands of places to eat and fierce competition for diners on each and every stretch of road, why the hell am I treated so poorly?
Is it too much to ask for a little politeness in exchange for my patronage? Why do Montrealers have such a low standard that places like this can turn a profit? Anyone?
Maybe it’s apathy…
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