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Prague Cafe No Longer Takes My Order

On being treated like a somebody.

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PRAGUE, Czech Republic- Finally, it happened today. The Zanzibar Cafe stopped taking my order. They instead just bring me my Americano with milk and glass of tap water:

Prague coffee

Every morning I come to this cafe around 8:30, sit in the same seat outside on the sidewalk and order the same thing. Day after day after day the waitress has asked what I wanted and I said the same thing. Today, she no longer bothered.

It’s kind of a game that I play — I wonder how long it’s going to be until this happens. What’s the threshold on the number of times you can go to the same place and the same time and order the same thing before they just serve it to you? In some places, the answer is never — they just don’t care enough to treat you special, to disrupt their operating procedures just for you. In others, they do care enough to treat you as an individual rather than “customer number ___.”

When you’re always moving through the world you find that you start appreciating the little things that people do to acknowledge you, to treat you special, to extract you from the crowd.

This is one of the reasons why I like to keep a routine. It may sound odd, given that I generally make myown schedule and can pretty much go wherever I want, whenever. Having a routine is faster and easier — I can put more time into work and the things that I want to do rather than always looking for a new cafe / bar / restaurant. But having a routine also allows you to better connect with the people around you.

Show up once, you’re an apparition. Show up twice you’re a nobody. Show up ten days in a row and you become known — a somebody, a regular.

I’ve never really talked with anyone who works at this cafe. I just sit down and start typing blog posts and articles on my BlackBerry. But even still we recognize each other, we smiled at each other, and this is enough of a connection.

The longing to connect is universal. In travel, these moments are always fleeting but always appreciated. I don’t need to be everybody’s best friend. I don’t need to be the center of attention. But I do like to be known — at least to a waitress who’s name I don’t know who I’ve never talked to at some cafe in Prague.


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Filed under: Coffee, Czech Republic, Food

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3715 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

10 comments… add one

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  • Trevor June 20, 2019, 6:20 pm

    My dad gets his cappuccino as he sits down at his table. he gets off his mobility scooter and the girls start making it.

    a cafe on sunday i frequent always say…Black coffee? as i sit down. this feels good.

    The girl is Polish. probably wouldnt get that from an english lass

    as a veteran of 16 seasons as a waiter in Switzerland, ive seen it all BUT a little off subject, discounting accents and languages i can tell nationalities by what people order…

    if some one orders a coffee at 9am, they r Swiss cos they had their breakfast at 6, so by 9 they need their coffee

    people ordering beer at 11am were 99% Germans

    and people ordering tea with milk at 3pm were 100% from Blighty..


    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard June 21, 2019, 10:34 am

      Man, that is an interesting perspective that you have experiencing life on the other side. I’ve never been a waiter before and can only conjecture what it’s like. I imagine you see a lot of real life and can observe the patterns between different peoples in a way that people who’ve never worked in that profession can.

      I bet we could get in a big explosive debates concerning the practice of tipping haha!

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      • Trevor June 21, 2019, 4:01 pm

        No need for explosive debates. lol

        but regarding Switzerland, tipping is normal. service is included in the pricing of every item on the menu. BUT u tip for good service. there are no rules here other than, u leave what you feel the server deserves. in most cases, you round up.

        a 4.20 coffee, u give 4.50 or 5 if u have cash to flash, .. 2 coffees and in most cases they give u a tenner and say, “”isch guat””… or “”es stimmt””

        there is no 5 or 10% rule and mr rick steves who loves the village i used to live in, fabulously wrote about Switzerland that u dt need to tip. sure you dont have to, but when in Rome

        a lady was around, updating his intel… and i told her this, she said they had changed the ‘no need to tip’ bit

        Swiss and Germans tip the best. french, dutch and italiens dt … at best a few coins even if the bill is 200bucks..

        English are a bit mean. drunks r the best tippers.. lmao, specially drunk americans, who dt mind emptying their pockets of shrappnel.

        i could make 150 bucks a day. thats on top of a very good wage

        but im too old for that shit

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        • Wade Shepard June 21, 2019, 4:08 pm

          Haha, definitely true about Americans. They generally love tipping. Makes them feel good about themselves or something. Also, they don’t get “when in Rome” and just assume that every culture does things like them and shares their value systems — including tipping in countries where it’s awkward or even insulting.

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          • Trevor June 21, 2019, 4:24 pm

            yeah, some places just dont get ‘keep the change’

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            • Wade Shepard June 21, 2019, 5:34 pm

              That’s for sure. Sometimes they run after you or just look at you like you’re a moron: What are you doing leaving money on the table, you moron?

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              • Trevor June 21, 2019, 7:39 pm

                its sunday soon. gonnna check out my fav café the one with the Polish chicca-bella

                oh btw… winter is coming…… nights will get longer…:))))

                Link Reply
                • Wade Shepard June 21, 2019, 7:50 pm

                  Are you going to sweep her off her feet and take her to a far away land?

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                  • Trevor June 22, 2019, 5:17 pm

                    yeah to Canvey Island

                    no.. im like chuck norris I WORK ALONE

                    Link Reply
                    • Wade Shepard June 22, 2019, 7:34 pm

                      Haha good one!