Look up the word ‘courtesy’ in the Oxford English dictionary and you’ll find the following definition:
The showing of politeness in one’s attitude and behaviour towards others.
Sadly, when it comes to customers, many seem to have almost no concept of courtesy. I saw a horrid example of this recently at an outdoor café setting on Alfred Street in Sydney, as a family left this table behind, covered in takeaway materials.
There is a clear difference between dining in and having takeaway. (I wrote about this in one of my other recent ruminations.) Quite simply, if your drinking vessel, cutlery and other items are not disposable, it’s safe to assume that you can leave everything there and it will be cleared by a staff member. If your items are disposable or recyclable, then you should show the common courtesy of tidying up after yourself.
The nincompoops who got up from this table and left had no intention of cleaning up. When I noticed this, I turned to them and said directly, ‘There are plenty of bins around. Are you going to clean all of that up?’. No joke, I was met with a blank expression—zero response—and they just walked away. We were surrounded by bins and there was no excuse to leave this behind.
There is a risk that my public commentary will one day see me landed in hospital; I often call out tossers and people who don’t wear helmets when riding bikes. I encourage you to do the same, when it is safe and appropriate.
At the risk of sounding downright socialist, this form of café littering is pure evidence of the flawed capitalist idea that the customer is always right. Guess what: they’re not.