The other day a headline in my Twitter feed caught my eye. The Local France (@TheLocalFrance) shared a photo of a sign at a French café in Nice, which listed varying degrees of pricing for the same cup of coffee (or café). The reason for the price difference? The way the customer orders it. The more polite the order, the cheaper the coffee. It's as simple as that.
Anyone who orders "un café" would be charged the highest price - 7 euros (or about $9.60). But, if you take the time to say, "Bonjour, un café, s'il vous plait" (Hello, a coffee, please), you would only be charged 1.40 euros (or about $1.90). Yes, for simply adding "hello" and "please" to your order, you could save yourself about $8.20.
A gentle reminder to use good manners
The corresponding article from The Local France notes that the café owner said he simply put up the sign with the varying prices to help remind people to slow down and be polite. He had noticed that his customers were busy, even a bit stressed, and were hurriedly calling out their coffee orders, rather than taking the time to politely order a "café." And, that's not acceptable. Anyone who's been to France, knows that the French take politeness seriously. It's actually considered rude to not say "hello" and "goodbye" when entering and exiting a store.
My initial reaction to the photo and resulting story was laughter - plain and simple. It seemed humorous that a cafe would go so far as to charge you more for not using your manners when placing your order. But, it also struck a chord with me as a mom.
Sometimes I feel like a broken record, repeatedly asking my sons to say "please" when asking for something, and then being sure to say "thank you" when they receive it. When they're at school, I hope they're using good manners, and saying "please" and "thank you." And, I'm sure their teachers are offering them gentle reminders - if and when needed.
As adults, we're on our own, and our manners are totally up to us. Without gentle reminders from our parents or teachers, maybe we've forgotten to take the time to say "hello," "please" and "thank you" - no matter how busy we may be at the time. And, maybe, we can use a gentle reminder, too.
A little politeness goes a long way
While I don't expect to be able to make it to the French Riviera any time soon (much to my chagrin), I know I'll think twice before I place my next coffee order at my local Starbucks - or any where else. I know it will make me feel better - even without the discount. And, I'm sure the person behind the counter will appreciate the effort, too.
So, for now, I continue to smirk at the thought of the sign posted at the French café, and continue to get in my gentle good-manner reminders with my kids. Together, I think we can help make everyone's day a little nicer - here in Chicago or anywhere in the world.
What was your initial reaction to the French café sign? Will it make you think twice about how you order your next coffee or interact with others? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below - please and thank you.
Update: I was pleased to see the word "please" on a sticker attached to a recent shipment I received from Amazon. I'm sure no one dared separate the multi-volume set since they are asked so nicely not to do so. Behold the power of "please" (and "thank you").
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