if you have followed me for some time you will know how much I like my coffee. It’s no secret, I enjoy sitting with a nice cup and ‘people watch’ (yes even as a VI I do this!)
But of late I have really struggled.
Not so much with the people watching part; but rather the collecting my coffee part.
Just a short bus ride away from me is the lovely Whiteley Shopping Village. It is home to a great variety of shops, restaurants, cinema and yup you guessed it coffee shops!
It has the three MAJOR brand names of Costa, Nero & Starbucks, in addition to The M&S cafe.
Whitely was purpose built. Many of the storesmake use of the high ceilings and glass outer wall to add a mezzanine floor, while the cafes and restaurants leave them to create the feeling of space and ambiance.
But here in lies an issue.
Starbucks in particular……
with its solid floors, wooden traveled, coffee ba and very minimal in way of ‘soft furnitings’ the inside has an echo.
The seating is positions around the centrally placed counter that leads you around to the right where you can collect your coffee at the end of the bar, where the bar continues again to the right (and right again) to enable friends to sit on the stools while enjoying a coffe with easy access to PowerPoints that are built into the bar.
There are standard level blue benches that cover one entire wall of the store with small tables, then at the back there are simple couch like seating around low tables.
With a further bar seating in front of one of the windows and more 2 seated wooden tablespoon dotted about.
So for me, I can easily find somewhere to sit that works with the lighting, be that natural, bright sunshine that we are enjoying at the moment or artificially lit by the store itself.
So, hopefully I have set the scene for you. The fact that the coffee machine is not directly beside the till make for easy ordering and it also enables the staff to have a ‘queue’ system for drink collection.
But it is this ‘drink collection’ that has become a real struggle for me.
With the height of the ceiling, the multiple coffee machines and the general ‘noise’ of the store; even with my hearing aids I can’t hear any particular voice clearly.
These are all factors I can’t change. And I am not one to be beaten into having to avoid a store (particularly one that sells coffee) because of it.
With my visual impairment I can’t make eye contact with others, although I can thankfully usually recognise a member of staff at datrbusks by the iconic green apron they all wear.
So now, when I arrive at ‘the bar’ I politely gain the attention of a member of staff and then I show them my phone…..
And this is what they see. (Or similar depending on my order)
Where I have found that a kind member of staff then directly passes me my drink when my order is is completed. Saving them shouting out to deaf ears and saving me from tepid coffee because it has been sat too long.
Such a simple little app is ‘Notes’ which I use every day for one thing or another like many people. But one that has enabled me to keep just a little bit more of my independence (even if it is something so trivial as ordering a coffee)
I now feel more comfortable when dealing with such noisy situations.
And I don’t have to miss out … So it’s win-win situation.