September 19, 2006

Tempest in a Coffee Pot

When I have business in Outer Siberia, a/k/a upper Rockville, I sometimes stop at Mayorga Coffee at King Farm. The latest visit a couple of days ago held a major surprise for me.

As I have previously posted, Mayorga at King Farm is somewhat sterile in look and tone. However, it has free wi-fi, and I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, especially a gift horse with serious coffee breath.

During my previous jaunts, I noticed that Mayorga is operated by high school kids. Sometimes their friends drop by for loud socializing. This can be pretty disturbing for those of us trying to work. A couple of days ago, the worst disturbance thus far took place. A trio of high-schoolers walked in and took over the front of the room. They knew one or more of the workers behind the counter. One of the three, The Bearded One, was incredibly loud. Plus, he repeatedly dropped the N-bomb, and I wondered how the black customers felt about that. Another male friend encouraged him as they recounted stories to each other of beating people up. Then The Bearded One received a cell phone call, and shared it with the customers, including the special nickname he had for the caller.

After a few minutes, I was getting pretty fed up. Now, I don't begrudge high-school interlopers their boisterous fun in otherwise quiet coffee shops where I'm trying to work. Ok, yes I do. I was about to go over and ask them to lower the volume a bit. Then I recalled a similar incident a few years ago at 4 a.m. on the Long Island Railroad, where about a dozen inebriated high schoolers came aboard my car and starting smoking and yelling. I went over and asked them to stop smoking, since it wasn't permitted on the cars and, more importantly, I can't stand it. A standoff ensued between me and the Dirty Dozen, including their spitting at me. I had appealed to the conductors to do their job, but they were too chicken to do so. I always seem to take the role of Citizen Protector, and rarely if ever does anyone join me. I'm the one you see part way on the shoulder of the highway during traffic jams and construction tie-ups, trying to block the cheaters from riding up the shoulder instead of waiting like the rest of us. And I'm damn tired of playing this role.

So instead of having a confrontation with The Bearded One and his cohorts, I located the Mayorga Coffee web site and sent them an email to complain. After a few more minutes of work, I noticed that the place had become quiet again. I looked up, and the Unholy Trio was gone. Then I saw an email in my inbox. It was from Martin Mayorga, the owner of Mayorga Coffee. The email said that, as soon as he received my message, he called the shop and told the staff to get rid of the Three Musketeers. Martin also said that he would contact his manager to address the situation going forward. He agreed with me that it was unacceptible for non-customer friends of the staff to come in regularly and disrupt things for paying customers.

While it is premature to declare Mission Accomplished, I must tip my hat to Martin Mayorga for his surprising and rapid response. Martin has restored my faith in the possibilities of customer service. Now, if I had only told him about the empty paper towel dispenser in the men's room.


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