What if I took mobile phones off my menu?

Yesterday, I watched a couple at the cafe. They looked like old friends with their heads knitted together in conversation so intense their eyes locked, only breaking away for a hearty laugh every few minutes. Food arrived, and you could see love and passion presented on those plates by my kitchen magicians. The couple’s conversation stopped for some ooh's and ahh’s, and I spotted a hint of food envy. They began eating, rekindled their discussion, smiling between banter, bites of gnocchi and --- a phone rang. 

The lady in red stood up and left the café. My heart broke for her companion as she sat and ate alone. For thirty-two minutes. Their moment lost. A meal went cold.

It may have been a life-changing conversation. Or it may have been a mundane one. Who knows, but a special moment looked gone forever.

Running a café, when I’m not rushing on my feet or wrestling coffee - I people watch. Mostly, I watch people watching phones. It’s rare a customer comes in and doesn’t keep their phone on their table within reach, take a call, or type away. Phones rule our lives. They’re tethered to us, and we fret when we leave home without them.

When we’re talking on them, tweeting or texting, our phone's create an invisible barrier that prevents us connecting with others. Across the counter, I see countless moments lost and chance conversations missed.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not going to ban phones.

But what if I asked you to check your device before you entered the cafe? Musicians invite you to turn your phone off at the start of their gig. You’re asked to do it when you go to a cinema or a conference. And you probably don’t allow phones at your dinner table at home. So, would you do the same at a café?

If you’ve got a potential family emergency or you’re waiting on an announcement, keep your phone on you – I get it. If your kid’s babyccino gives an excellent milk mustache – snap a pic. 

But if you’re in the café for a break, for a cuppa and a chat – would you surrender to a digital detox?

Dining by yourself? Bring a book or read the paper. Natter with a waiter or barista, or – whoa - chat with another customer. Take a moment. Soak in the café atmosphere. Let your thoughts wander.

I see devices destroy magic moments, don’t let one of those be yours.

Here’s my challenge to you: next time you’re at Derailleur, hang-up and hang-out instead.