A Cosmic Question for Saturday Evening: why is the elderly gentleman at table 57’s coffee not hot enough?

Christopher Carr

Christopher Carr does stuff and writes about stuff.

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13 Responses

  1. Tod Kelly says:

    You might have overlooked the most obvious explanation:

    I think you are totally underestimating old people’s love of bitching about stuff.  (Once you go back to the kitchen to get a hotter cup, I’d bet a dollar that there is talk about how “this place never used to serve cold coffee.”Report

    • mark boggs in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      I think Tod touches on it here, except that I fancy it is because they are older and don’t have the same all-consuming things to distract them like work and small children, so these kind of minutiae come to the forefront as THE MOST PRESSING MATTERS.

      For instance, when I took a job as a golf professional at a club with an older membership, I was stunned to find out that these folks played mainly on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  Not so much on Saturdays and Sundays.  At every other club I’ve worked at, with a younger demographic, there was not as much play during the week and all hell broke loose on the weekends with everybody trying to play.  When they retire, the golf becomes the job, weekenends are for relaxation now.

      And so it is with complaining.  They used to bitch about the mortgage or the kids or the meeting with their supervisor.  Now, they bitch about the coffee.  Or even the free donuts they’re enjoying.  “Well, they could certainly do with a larger variety.” 


  2. Rufus F. says:

    It could be medication related too. I know some of them can affect sensitivity to hot and cold. And maybe it is generational. I started drinking coffee in my grandparents’ real estate office and I take it very hot. I can let it cool down a bit, but I can’t get warm coffee to get hotter.Report

  3. Jaybird says:

    My sister is one of those people who got into fights with my mother in the winters because she (my sister) kept turning the heat up. When mom would say “NO! We’re keeping it at 72, missy!”, she (my sister) would wrap herself up in a blanket and her teeth would chatter.

    Now my sister is all grown up and has one of those cars with, I believe they are called, “ass-warmers”. She uses hers year round.

    Some folks are just cold.Report

    • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Jaybird says:

      When my great-aunt Florence (rest her soul) attended family gatherings, the thermostat was set to 80 and she had two lap blankets over three layers of sweater.

      Thin blood.Report

  4. E.D. Kain says:

    Maybe they just don’t give a damn anymore.Report

  5. Tom Van Dyke says:

    CC, I’m going to guess that Depression-era babies expect value for their money when they eat out, even if it’s the Early Bird w/senior discount @ Denny’s, and that explains the Goldilocks trip.  Time was that eating out was a luxury to be enjoyed; time was when the staff took pride in their work regardless of pay grade, and we all met happily in the middle.  A splendid time was guaranteed for all.

    Nice puzzler you set out here.


    • Christopher Carr in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

      Do you think service standards have declined?Report

      • wardsmith in reply to Christopher Carr says:

        Christopher, back in the early 70’s I worked in a restaurant that was peopled by mostly hippies. No other way to put it, we all had long hair and the “uniform” was patched bellbottom jeans and denim shirts in a surf and turf restaurant. To say that most of the wait staff were wasted would be an understatement. “Spacing” a customer’s order was commonplace, not the meal itself (good paper controls) but anything extra a customer asked for including coffee, steak sauce, dessert etc. I worked as a bus boy and took it upon myself to correct all their “spaces” and regularly lapped the entire (large) restaurant even leaving my own stations, just doing laps and dealing with everything that was failing between the cracks. I didn’t have to, I wasn’t being paid for it (although the waiters all gave me pretty generous tips out of their tips), I was mostly doing it because after about 3 weeks the job I was bored to tears.

        Later in life when I had a job comparable to Patrick’s, I would do the same routine. I’d leave my office and do regular laps around the company looking for problems and dealing with them before most people even recognized something was up. Networks weren’t as reliable then and the software like HP’s Openview was a complete joke (I had ver 1.0 and we called it ver 0.01). I liked the exercise, I liked getting out and seeing the users and it kept me from getting too bored.

        Most restaurants I go to today that aren’t my personal favorites (where I know the owners and am treated exceptionally well) have wait staff who stand around and gossip with each other, pointedly ignore customers and seem intent on doing as little as possible. These are high end restaurants where I’m usually being dragged along for a business meeting. Since I used to work “in the business” I keep track of things, like what my table mates order and whether it even gets delivered. IF there are 5 of us, it is an odds on bet (and one I sometimes make with them) that one of the orders will be completely screwed up. Corporate stores like Applebees? Fuggedaboutit, they screw up when there’s only 2 of us.

        Do I think service standards have declined? I don’t know, the bar was set pretty low in the place I used to work, but I swear 40% of our clientele were just there to gape at the “hippies”, we were the entertainment. I suppose when the drugged out waiter brought the wrong thing, the redneck at the table could laugh and tell his table, “See these guys can’t pour piss out of a boot with the directions on the heel!” The same guy would later hand me a $20 bill and say, “Don’t you share this with that lazy SOB waiter now, you’re the one who took care of us all night!” Then when I got back to the kitchen that lazy SOB waiter would be standing with his hand palm up to take whatever I just got handed. Rules of the game i suppose, never bothered me a bit.Report

  6. b-psycho says:

    I assumed it was that their bodies didn’t retain heat as well as they used to, so what was normal when they were young feels cold today.


  7. Murali says:

    My grandmas like things hot too (as do my parents) and they comes from a different culture from your customers. I think it comes from habitually having hotter and hotter coffees etc. I think the older you get, there are more situations where you cannot wait for your coffee to cool down. So, you drink it hot more often and destroy your nerve endings get used to it. What used to beuncomfartably hot becomes soothingly warm and what was nice and warm now feels like room temperature (which is of course too cold for coffee) For example,, because I eat at home more than my friends, I am able to handle hotter temperatures than them. (Report