Friday, October 10, 2003
The Friday Grrrr…
2: Prêt à Manger
It's a little-known fact that, in time, every Prêt à Manger "gourmet" sandwich turns into every other Prêt à Manger "gourmet" sandwich. After about your twentieth visit, you suddenly realise they are all exactly the same, and that your Crayfish and Rocket tastes exactly like your More Than Mozzarella tastes exactly like the BLT I had for lunch.
It's not a nostalgic longing for sausage and bacon butties, dripping with fat and their edges curled just so, which gets me peeved with Prêt. I don't mind the fact they've Starbucked their way onto every London high street, forcing out the old delis, or that McDonalds has a thirty-three per cent stake in them. I can just about handle their smug and trendy corporate image, and I even get on with their chirpy and helpful young staff, when a saner Stranger would punch that cheery grin right off their face.
No, it's the way those employees have been trained to hand you back your change. Rather than just drop the coins into your outstretched hand, they very deliberately place them there, ensuring, for just one half-second or so, they are touching you, their fingers resting in the centre of your palm.
Check it out when you next pop in for your Avo and Italian. They all do it. It's probably called something fancy like "customer care", or "connecting", or "bonding". Whatever it is, it annoys the hell out of me.