As I’m having lunch in a nice little café, one of the staff is busy showing a new boy the ropes. I can overhear him explaining that, when it comes to keeping the front of the house clean and tidy, it’s all about the customer’s perspective. Together, they wipe this, straighten that, and then — as he says to his colleague — “Just step back and see it from the customer’s perspective.” It’s a good philosophy, I think. As Robert Burns wrote in his poem To a Louse, On Seeing One on a Lady’s Bonnet at Church,

O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An’ foolish notion:
What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
An’ ev’n devotion!

The trouble with the senior waiter’s fine philosophy is that, from this customer’s perspective, the most notable thing about him is that his neat appearance (black shirt, black trousers, black apron) is totally undercut by the fact that his trousers are hanging down below his hips, exposing his light grey underpants to the world.


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