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The day I staged a café walk out

I once led a walk out from a café.

What …you..? Noooooo…. I can sense your shock and disbelief as you read this.

Oh did I walk out. I think I may have stormed out, while the others meekly followed, clothed in shame.  Let me give you a red hot tip – it’s not just my little dog who gets referred to as Margaret Thatcher around our place…

So back to the “incident”.  Myself, Langer and our mates Michael and Linda were having breakfast at this place which was getting pretty good reviews (note, I’m not in the business of naming and shaming). It was a Saturday morning, pretty early, very quiet. We were one of two groups in the joint. Long story short, is that for the following litany of sins;

  • Stuffed up the drinks order
  • Forgot two out of four coffees
  • Gave us the wrong menu

I would have probably stayed. I probably just wouldn’t have gone back.


For the cardinal sin, the one I can not, will not forgive, I walked…and took the rest of them with me.

What is that sin? Well thank you for asking…it is failing to communicate AKA making an assumption. What did it look like in this case? Well, we had been there an hour and were understandably peckish.  We asked the waitress how long till the order would be ready, given as I said earlier we were one of only two groups in the place.

“Oh, you wanted that right away? We haven’t yet started to cook it. We just thought you wanted to wait for a while” The waitress had no idea she was dicing with death.

At that point, I walked. I paid for what we had already received and left.

I used to wonder why things like this got me so cranky. My mate Michelle (she of the 14km race fame) nailed it one day. We were at one of those swanky burger joints that have sprung up all over town. It was early evening, so it was almost deserted. We waited at the counter for a solid 5 minutes. No one came. A bloke walked past at one point, smiled and said nothing. No “be with you in a minute”

I turned to her and said through grinding teeth…I am leaving and I will never come back.  Rather extreme reaction?  Perhaps, but when you’re wired up so much towards communication as I am, when people don’t do it, it stands out like male reproductive organs on dogs. Or horses. Whatever.

What Michelle, exceptionally brave lass that she is, pointed out and what I realised in a blinding flash of revelation, is that what really tips me over the edge is when people don’t engage with me.

And here’s the thing. In my experience of seven years running a strategic communication firm, this is also the main thing which tips clients, stakeholders and the community straight over that same cliff.

So there you have it. I’ve worked out my own tipping point, and that of our clients. It’s worth the exercise, trust me. Hopefully my first walk out will be my last.

What do you think?

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Gemma Tognini

Gemma Tognini

Business owner, communication specialist, some-time runner, ex journo, V8 ute driver, story teller and lover of shoes, WA’s Gemma Tognini is an often homesick half-Italian and passionate Collingwood tragic. She’s never far from a red notebook, where she jots down her plans, anxieties, business strategies, brilliant and ridiculous ideas alike. Now she’s flinging wide the pages for all to share. Welcome to The Red Book. Enjoy the read. Find out more at <a href="www.gtmedia.com.au">www.gtmedia.com.au</a> or follow her on Twitter <a href="http://www.twitter.com/gemmatognini">@gemmatognini</a>

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