September 6, 2011

The Sad Vegan(?)

It is the job of anyone in the service industry, most of the time, to leave customers feeling better after the interaction than before. Most of the time. There are occasions were truths must be told, hearts broken. Today was one such day.

The customer approached, a young woman who's appearance I don't recall with any specificity. She smiled, and had a cheery air to her voice. Her disposition seemed, on the whole, positive. She ordered a soy mocha, no whipped cream. Thus far, no alarms.

Then, she noticed the vegan brownies, and grabbed one. But she didn't just take one. "Ooh," She said. "A vegan brownie." The italics were my cue. A vegan, I thought. Wait. A vegan? A mocha?

"Umm," I said. "If you're looking to avoid dairy, the chocolate we use is milk chocolate."

A shift. Palpable. "Oh," she said. "Then something without chocolate." What she felt, likely, was a sensation of alarming disingenuity, the accusational stare of so many dairy cows, judging her from behind the factory walls.

Or perhaps something not quite so dramatic as that. I don't pretend to know the depth of her vegan pride - or, honestly, if she's vegan at all. But I do know that the cheery disposition she entered with was not what she left with, though she assured me that the drink she ended up with was every bit as good as the mocha she had desired.

Perhaps. I'd like to think it was. But however good, it was not chocolate. And chocolate, however good, now seems less of an option for her. So did I do her a service, or quite the opposite? Was ignorance bliss, or is knowledge power?

This is the part where I don't have an answer.