#16 – 4 Reasons Why We Should Clean Up After Ourselves

Good Morning!

Some people are often confused which amenities are typically provided at self-service fast food or cafeteria type restaurants, and for good reason.  I’ll explain the differences and why it matters that we should clean up after ourselves.

Self-service and full-service restaurants are fundamentally different.

When we go out to eat at a full-service sit-down type of restaurant, we are greeted by a person, and then served by a person who takes our order, brings our food, checks on us throughout the meal, takes away our plates when we are finished eating, and finalizes the transaction.

After we leave our table, the restaurant bussing staff and/or servers go to work cleaning and resetting the table for the next guests.

Personal service stops at the counter.

When we visit a self-serve fast food or cafeteria style restaurant, we are served at a counter much like we would be at a full-service retail store and then we sit down afterwards with our food. The onus is on us to get our condiments, napkins, straw, drink refills, etc.

If all of the tasks typically done by the sever at full-service restaurant are our responsibility at a self-service restaurant. So why is it that we would assume that it’s not our responsibility to clean up after ourselves when we’re done? 

People are messy and kinda gross.

Humans are more bacteria by number of cells than we are actually human. Just about everything we come in contact with will trade bacteria and other germs with us.  Just the act of breathing is sufficient.

The trays that are provided to us to carry our food to the table do a pretty decent job of containing all of the little bits of food and saucy mess that we create while eating, but sometimes the slop ends up on the table, chairs, and floor.

For this reason, soap and water is always used to keep the dining room as sanitary as can be. When I did this for Taco Bell way back in the day, we used a disinfectant cleaner.

The person who is tasked with cleaning the dining room is expected to clean up the left-over messes of the patrons if need be, but this just adds to their cleaning function; it’s not actually their job to clean up after you.  Their job is to sanitize the dining room to limit the spread of bacteria.

Sometimes there is a person to return the tray to.

We as humans love symmetry. This also extends to how we do things, including starting and finishing actions and events and even how we travel and perform all of the other little tasks we do.

Because our meal is presented to us at a counter by a person, if there is no person to return the tray back to, this can lead to a grey area as to what to do with the packaging when we’re finished. 

This the underlying impulse for symmetry, the need to end our actions similar to how we started, much like how we take the same route in and out of a building, including using the same door if there more than one door.

Even if we know that there is a garbage can and a spot to put the tray, this can be overridden by whatever else we’re thinking about and become deprioritized, but if we know that there is a person associated with a location and an action of what we’re supposed to do, this is programmed into us on a subconscious level.

This particular issue was solved quite eloquently at my local mall by introducing a “tray station” to return the trays and garbage back to where a person is clearly visible doing their job of sorting the organic, recycling and refuse and cleaning the trays.

The first time a friend and I went there to try out a new restaurant, we didn’t know what to do with our garbage and trays when we didn’t see any garbage cans until someone pointed it out to us. Thanks stranger!

Conclusions

Ever since the self-service food industry was created this has always been an issue. Most of us are mindful enough to clean up after ourselves, some of us mean well by wanting to create the need for ‘a job’ for a full-time dining room attendant, but their action usually just ends up creating more work for the person that’s already tasked to cleaning. Some of us need a gentle reminder to be sanitary in general, and some of us are lost in our own little worlds and forget about basics.

Cleaning up after ourselves is ultimately to show respect for the business we frequent and for the other patrons that come after us.  It’s the decent thing to do.

I hope you enjoyed reading!

Let me know what you think about this in the comments!

Have a great day and clean up after yourself! 😊

-Karsy

#15 The Act of Borrowing

Good Morning!

The definition of borrowing is to take something from someone else, usually with their permission, to use for your own purpose with the intention of returning it.

I initially wrote this article as a part of another piece I am currently writing and thought that this subject needed to be it’s own article. There is some powerful stuff that I’ve learned in the past when it comes to borrowing things from people and the two main things are trust and expectations.

It’s an unwritten rule for using pretty much anything that we borrow, especially when at no cost to us, that we return whatever it is we borrowed in the same condition and to where we found it or where it’s supposed to go so the that the next person who wants to use it can find it.

Return the magazine to the pile, return the tool to the right drawer of the tool box.

Ask any tradesperson to borrow a tool out of their toolbox and then let me know what their response was.  It’s usually either a hard no, a question to the whereabouts of your own tools, or a reluctant yes and a warning of the repercussion of what happens if you don’t return said tool in the same condition and to place you found it.

Their tools are costly and are necessary to the practice of their craft, and respect for that is required. Knowing this, guarding their tools with such fervor makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?

In a setting where you have many people who need to use a limited number of tools, being organized is of great importance.  If you’ve taken any technical classes in a traditional school setting like I have, you know already that this idea is pounded into our heads.  

This means all tools must be returned before the next class arrives and if necessary, the entire class will scour the shop until the tool is found. When the tool is found, the person who didn’t put the tool back usually owns up to it and learns their lesson in an unforgivingly public manner. I’ve been there.

I vividly remember my shop teacher stressing the importance of returning the item you borrowed in the exact same condition, or better, to the exact location from which it came. 

His example was an old lawnmower than he borrowed from friend that was on vacation.  He picked it up from his friend’s garage, tuned it up because the mower hadn’t been run yet that year, repaired and painted a rust spot on the deck, used it to cut his lawn, cleaned it, and then returned it to the exact same spot in his friends garage. 

His friend upon returning home from vacation didn’t recognize his own mower because it was cleaned up and painted, and even thought my teacher had purchased a new mower for him!  

This story is over the top, I know, but it really got his point across:  if you borrow something and return it in the same or better condition than expected, then you’ll almost always earn the trust of that person so that you might be might be able to borrow something again when you really need it.

Not abusing that trust is another topic all together.

I’d love to hear what you think about this subject in the comments!

Have a good day!

-Karsy

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