I figured the masses would be flocking to Alterra on the Lake on this warm early spring day, but instead found the cafe closed for a company event. I always have mixed feelings--to say the least--about service businesses that are like, "Hi, we're a service business, but we have something better to do than serve customers now." Walking to the Prospect cafe, I harrumphed, but provided this disputation to my internal dialogue: "Maybe they're having a friendliness seminar."
Last night, I shopped for books at one of the East Side's sole remaining bookstores. I was a bit taken aback by a tinge of unfriendliness from the staff. I use that term with some hesitation. Technically, friendly means only not "foe-y," whatever that would be. I genuinely wonder what level of friendliness is reasonable to expect in such a setting. A warm smile and hello? It may not be fair to ask everyone to affect that if they aren't feeling it.
I guess I wonder what kind of attitude is most beneficial for a business that, um, doesn't exactly have the wind at its back. During the half-hour I was there, two clerks stood, for the most part, immobile as statues. The atmosphere seemed to be akin to one of defeat. A more realistic assessment of the situation might be to say, "Hey, Milwaukee is pretty ghettoized. Pretty much our whole demographic lives within two or three miles of here, and that demographic will keep us going for a while. Let's make something of it."