This Barista Was Sick Of Serving Rude Customers, So He Decided To Teach Them A Lesson

Austin Simms had had enough of customers who seemed to forget that baristas were, in fact, human beings. So, one day, he taught them a lesson in a big way – and his actions garnered worldwide attention and praise.

Simms, a native of Rocky Mount, Virginia, studied human resource management at the state’s Mary Baldwin University. He also worked at Cups Coffee and Tea in Roanoke, just 25 miles from his hometown.

At Cups, he and his fellow baristas whipped up a full menu of coffees, as well as smoothies, tea and hot chocolate. People gathered there to study, chat or simply hang out with their friends, children or even their pets.

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Despite the relaxed atmosphere, Simms had one big gripe with the customers who frequented the coffee shop. He felt as though they often forgot that the staff behind the counter were people, too.

So, one day in 2016, the barista took to the coffee shop’s sandwich board. The signs are often used by restaurants, bars and coffee shops to share funny or thoughtful quotes and attract customers. Simms, however, used the Cups board to send a message.

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The sign read, “One small coffee: $5.00. One small coffee, please: $3.00. Hello, I’d like one small coffee, please: $1.75.” With that, Simms essentially told customers that they’d start paying more for approaching the baristas with bad manners.

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Simms explained his reasoning to WDBJ news in Virginia, saying that he just wanted to be funny. “I decided, because I need to solve all of the injustices of the world, to start charging more for people who don’t take the time to say ‘Hello,’” the barista said.

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The barista added that customers who failed to greet him or express their gratitude made him feel less than human. So, he hoped that the sign would inspire them to “connect and realize we’re all people behind the counter.”

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Simm’s couldn’t have expected what happened next. An image of the sandwich board made its way onto Reddit. And then quickly climbed to the top of the social media site’s feed. People around the world lauded the barista’s message.

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Romayne Kostrzewski Srnsky-Wilson wrote, “Good for him. People need to start using their manners more nowadays. People have forgotten that if you use your manners, you will get what you give.”

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Commenter Nana Patti Gregory felt similarly. She wrote, “I don’t get people. Kindness is awesome, loving, genuinely caring… That’s life to me. Without kindness, there is nothing. And a bonus, it always, always comes back to you.”

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Some commenters even suggested that Simms’s list of requirements didn’t go far enough in today’s society. Jean Spencer added, “And $10 a cup if you’re talking on your phone while ordering.” This was a comment that went down well with other users.

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Astonishingly, Simms’ sign was printed in an English newspaper the day after it hit Reddit. And, of course, news crews from the local area and beyond came to chat with the young barista who had written the message.

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Since that whirlwind in 2016, Simms has moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, but he holds a similar job in his new city. According to his Facebook page, he’s a barista at Starbucks, where he may have the chance to come up with some more noteworthy signage.

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In the meantime, other baristas have followed suit, coming up with witty signs to make customers laugh – or teach them a lesson. For instance, one sign handwritten in blue ink warned guests not to use their phones while ordering.

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“If you’re talking on your phone, I feel bad for you, son. I’m taking 99 orders, but yours ain’t one,” the sign said. Hip-hop fans will recognize that the humorous message referenced Jay-Z’s hit, “99 Problems.”

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Yet another coffee shop used a sign to explain to its customers why they didn’t provide them with an internet connection. The chalk-written sign said, “No, we don’t have Wi-Fi… TALK to each other!”

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Meanwhile, other coffee shops have chosen to go with the exclusively humorous angle. For instance, one sign called out so-called hipsters and their affinity for the latest trends. board posed the question: “How did the hipster burn his tongue?”  And the answer read, “He sipped his coffee before it was cool.”

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Another shop’s sign appealed to customers’ senses of humor in the hope that their egos wouldn’t be bruised by their message. It implored them to “drink coffee” so they could “do stupid things faster.”

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Indeed, some cafes have even copied the sentiment Simms wrote back in 2016. In fact, this sign, posted in France, promised discounted coffee to those who said, “Please.” And customers got an even cheaper brew if they added “Hello,” just as Simms did half a world away in 2016.

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