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Old 04-02-2011, 11:03 PM   #16
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How to tell a customer to go away.


Okay, I've been thinking about this all afternoon. It's too hard to tell someone that they smell bad. And you don't know how he'll react toward your wife if she lets him know he's not welcome there - he may walk out or he may become aggressive.

Here's my solution. Do you know anyone with small, loud, active, bordering-on-annoying children? Maybe little ones who tend to shout, scream, cry, throw fits and have very loud voices?

Offer the mom or dad free coffee if they'll bring the kids in when he is there. And free Mountain Dew for the kiddies - caffeine. Have them sit at the next table over from the guy. Perhaps the kids could bring a couple of those awful squeaky toys.

He'll leave.

FWIW

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Old 04-03-2011, 09:21 AM   #17
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How to tell a customer to go away.


Hi, this is the coffee shop wife... Thanks for all of the responses everyone! Unfortunately my shop is very tiny - only 6 tables - and all conversations in the shop can be heard by everyone if you're listening. And all annoyances, deliberate or otherwise, will annoy everyone in the shop as well so trying to get rid of him by being loud and annoying would simply backfire. There is no corner of the shop we can put him to isolate the smell when he's ripe. The smell permeates the entire place. He always orders decaf so it would be illegal for me to intentionally give him caffeinated coffee to keep him awake.

I do empathize with the guy which is why this has gone on so long. He's actually in his 80's, is a WW2 and Korean War vet and worked for our city for many years (in the sewer dept, go figure) and is well known and liked by many of the old-timers in town. He is alone and has nothing else going on. I've engaged him in conversation many times - This guy is set in his ways and is not going to change.

Getting the police involved is not an option. As I said, he's well known by the old-timers in the city and by other city employees. It would be a very unpopular move for me to do that and I'd lose even more business for sure. But that doesn't mean anybody wants to be in the shop when he's here either...

I guess there's no easy way out of this. I'm going to have to be blunt, like Leah suggested, and just tell him that we've had complaints about his odor and we can't have him in the shop unless he is bathed and his clothes laundered. Since this is such a touchy subject, there can be no witnesses so I'm going to have to do it when there's nobody else in the shop. I'm also wondering if this might open me up to an age discrimination case?

Wish me luck!
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Old 04-03-2011, 09:34 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by canadaclub View Post
Geez Cleve...nothing personal mate but there are ways to a win-win situation.
Yeah....the printed word came across much harsher that the good thoughts I was trying to convey.

Good luck Coffee Shop Wife........
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Old 04-03-2011, 11:50 AM   #19
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How to tell a customer to go away.


Thanks for all the ideas. She'll have to wait for him to come in when the shop is mostly empty in case there is a disagreement. He's a bit older than I thought... WWII vet, lifelong resident of the city, and ex-city employee. This could go horribly wrong if she doesn't handle it carefully.
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Old 04-03-2011, 12:03 PM   #20
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How to tell a customer to go away.


its probably a serious exersize to bath at that age living alone, maybe see if there are home help organizations to help with this and other chores around his house. Having been with my wife since 1977 i cant imagine how lonley it would be at his age with no one
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Old 04-03-2011, 02:52 PM   #21
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How to tell a customer to go away.


It would be very easy for anyone reading the story below to claim that nothing about it applies to the situation the OP's wife faces. But I think we all know better.

One day we might just be asked why we felt money or comfort or social status in our lives here on Earth trumped compassion and understanding.

This could be a test... and you just don't know it yet.

———————————————————————


A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in- law, and four-year old grandson. The old man’s hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered. The family ate together at the table, but the elderly grandfather’ s shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth.

The son and daughter-in- law became irritated with the mess. “We must do something about Grandfather, ” said the son. “I’ve had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.” Therefore, the husband and wife set a small table in the corner.

There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. Since grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl. When the family glanced in Grandfather’ s direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.

The four-year-old watched it all in silence. One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, “What are you making?”

Just as sweetly, the boy responded, “Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up.” The four-year-old smiled and went back to work.

The words so struck the parents that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done.

That evening the husband took Grandfather’ s hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days, he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.

———————————————————————

Children are remarkably perceptive. Their eyes ever observe, their ears ever listen, and their minds ever process the messages they absorb.
If they see us patiently provide a happy home atmosphere for family members, they will imitate that attitude for the rest of their lives. The wise parent realizes that every day the building blocks are being laid for the child’s future. Let us be wise builders and role models.


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Old 04-03-2011, 03:05 PM   #22
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How to tell a customer to go away.


WWII vets are few and far between now. Used to not bathing and probably doesn't recognize their own smell.
With only 6 tables, try putting candles on each one. Light his when it's about time for him to come in. If there is an outlet close to his table, plug in one of those scented things you see on TV.
Stick one of those "Stick Ups" on the underside of the table.
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Old 04-03-2011, 05:15 PM   #23
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How to tell a customer to go away.


I read this to my wife. She had a very realistic and practical suggestion.
She wondered if there is a VA or some other vet's organization anywhere near you.

She feels they would likely snub you if all you did was simply phone them about this, but if you took some pictures of him sleeping at the table, and went in person to speak with someone in charge, a solution might be found. Push the angle that you want to respect him and that he is "one of them". They might be inclined to step in and offer some help. Express your concern that he sleeps at the table and that it might be a medication issue (too much or not enough). Also address the hygiene issues because this speaks to his quality of life and daily health routine.

Apparently, somebody needs to be looking in on him regularly. Maybe the VA can suggest what's available to him as a vet for health monitoring issues. If he is not well (perhaps) this could also be seen as a possible health issue for the rest of your customers, especially if he might be drooling on the table while he sleeps. How much sanitizing is then necessary? More than the usual damp cloth would be needed here, and that could also be a serious point to bring up.

The presentation of your case has to be about your concern for HIM and for public health.... NOT about YOU, YOUR BUSINESS IMAGE, or even running off customers.

SOME POSSIBLE RESOURCES
Veterans Health AdministrationVeterans Health Administration
VA Medical Centers:
Bedford:Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital
Brockton:VA Boston Healthcare System, Brockton Campus
Jamaica Plain:VA Boston Healthcare System, Jamaica Plain Campus
Leeds:Northampton VA Medical Center
West Roxbury:VA Boston Healthcare System, West Roxbury Campus

Community Based Outpatient Clinics:
Boston:Boston Outpatient Clinic
Dorchester:Dorchester Outpatient Clinic
Fitchburg:Fitchburg Outpatient Clinic
Framingham:Framingham Outpatient Clinic
Gloucester:Gloucester Outpatient Clinic
Greenfield:Greenfield Outpatient Clinic
Haverhill:Haverhill Outpatient Clinic
Hyannis:Hyannis Outpatient Clinic
Lowell:Lowell Outpatient Clinic
Lynn:North Shore Outpatient Clinic
Martha's Vineyard:Martha's Vineyard Outpatient Clinic
Nantucket:Nantucket Outpatient Clinic
New Bedford:New Bedford Outpatient Clinic
Pittsfield:Pittsfield Outpatient Clinic
Quincy:Quincy Outpatient Clinic
Springfield:Springfield Outpatient Clinic
Worcester:Worcester Outpatient Clinic

Vet Centers:
Boston:Boston Vet Center
Brockton:Brockton Vet Center
Fairhaven:New Bedford Vet Center
Hyannis:Hyannis Vet Center
Lowell:Lowell Vet Center
Springfield:Springfield Mobile Vet Center
Springfield:Springfield Vet Center
Worcester:Worcester Vet Center

VISN
Bedford:VISN 1: VA New England Healthcare System
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Old 04-03-2011, 05:37 PM   #24
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How to tell a customer to go away.


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Originally Posted by gma2rjc View Post
Okay, I've been thinking about this all afternoon. It's too hard to tell someone that they smell bad. And you don't know how he'll react toward your wife if she lets him know he's not welcome there - he may walk out or he may become aggressive.

Here's my solution. Do you know anyone with small, loud, active, bordering-on-annoying children? Maybe little ones who tend to shout, scream, cry, throw fits and have very loud voices?

Offer the mom or dad free coffee if they'll bring the kids in when the unwelcome man is there. And free Mountain Dew for the kiddies - caffeine. Have them sit at the next table over from the guy... every time he comes in. Perhaps the kids could bring a couple of those awful squeaky toys.

He'll leave.

Does your wife have any young employees who listen to rap music? When the unwelcome guy is there, have that employee wash the tables and chairs near where the man is sitting. Have the employee sing rap songs out loud and off-tune.

You can probably come up with any number of ways to annoy the guy. if he's not comfortable there, he'll move on to another coffee shop.

FWIW

Barb
I'm sorry, but this sort of Passive Aggressive method of failing to directly and honestly deal with the issue really shouldn't be suggested. If you can't explain to your own 4 year old (if you had one) why Mommy handled this old man's annoyance in such a backhanded manner, then should you even be doing it?

I understand your point, but it really isn't the best advice, is it?
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Old 04-03-2011, 05:53 PM   #25
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WillieT----Thank you for the time and thought that you put into your post.

I think you have hit on a solution that will make every one better for the experience.----Mike----
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Old 04-03-2011, 06:22 PM   #26
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Not to push the point...... but I'll maybe 'nudge' a little.

I noticed that it was expressed that our new member "empathized" with the elderly gentleman. Can I talk a little about that?

As some of you know, I help facilitate behavioral modification therapy groups for criminal offenders and ex-offenders. One of our key strategies is the introduction of the concept of the offenders beginning to feel empathy for their victims. If you don't know how your actions affected the person or persons you hurt, you can never truly feel remorse for the pain or trauma you may have inflicted.

In that light, I'd like to leave you all with a little definition and explanation of the difference between empathy and just your common, garden variety sympathy. This is mostly from the New Oxford Dictionary:


Sympathy vs Empathy


Sympathy and Empathy are two of the most commonly misunderstood terms in the English language. There are hundreds of thousands of people that do not understand the difference between these two terms. They are actually two separate terms that have some important distinctions that everyone should know.

It is fair to state that both sympathy and empathy are acts of feelings. With sympathy though, you feel for the person. You pity or feel sorry for them but you do not necessarily understand what they are actually feeling. As a result of this you tend to have no choice but to only feel sympathetic for the person because you do not understand the problem or predicament that they are presently having.

Empathy, on the other hand, takes a little more imagination, work, or even similar situations to gain true empathy for someone. It is most often referred to as a higher order in the overall complexity of the human emotions.

You can describe empathy as sharing a feeling with someone. So can we notice the difference between the two so far? With empathy, to an extent, you are placing yourself in the persons place, you have a good sense of how they feel, and you also understand their feelings to some degree. Sometimes it may seem impossible for someone to feel empathetic to a person’s feelings because of their own reactions. These reactions involve our thoughts and feelings towards the issue, and are going to be unique to each and every individual. The idea of empathy, though, implies a much more active process than sympathy does.

It is hard for us to be empathetic to a person’s feelings but it can be easy for us to feel sympathy. It is easy for you to feel sympathy for someone who has lost a loved one, has undergone some certain kind of trauma, or has faced some very difficult times.

When sympathy is expressed to (or about) a person that is experiencing grief it suggests that they are alone in their sorrow. Empathy, on the other hand, suggests to the person (and to yourself), that you are right there by their side through the whole issue that they are dealing with at the moment. And that you have the ability to imagine how it is to be in their shoes. You are almost really with them during their time of stress and turmoil.

Yes, the difference between sympathy and empathy is often misunderstood. But when you understand the differences you will be able to use the terms in a more accurate and hopefully demonstratively effective manner.
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Old 04-03-2011, 06:28 PM   #27
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How to tell a customer to go away.


did't read the thread from Clutch's wife before opening my mouth.


but I will say; suggesting that there is a correlation between being a vet and being clean is insulting.

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Old 04-03-2011, 06:33 PM   #28
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. I'm also wondering if this might open me up to an age discrimination case?

Wish me luck!
Not unless you are booting him because his age.
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Old 04-03-2011, 06:38 PM   #29
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its probably a serious exersize to bath at that age living alone, maybe see if there are home help organizations to help with this and other chores around his house. Having been with my wife since 1977 i cant imagine how lonley it would be at his age with no one
for some, yes but for many that age, none at all. My pop is 86. Still driving. Still doing most things he used to do, including bathing.




I can see this ending very poorly though. Mrs. Clutch asks him to make himself scarce unless he has bathed. The next thing she realizes is the entire sewer department is stopping by for morning coffee and lunch snacks, big ol' smelly trucks parked out front and all.
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Old 04-03-2011, 07:09 PM   #30
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first, I say thanks to Willie for eye opening thoughts,, I have no solution to offer on this problem. My only thoughts would be that with so much info on the internet now-a-days, I'd be careful posting about this on line, next thing you know, you'll have demonstrators out front of your business, no matter what action you take,, good luck, wish I could offer suggestions to a very delicate situation.

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