I’m sitting in a Peet’s coffee shop in Fairfax, VA – a lovely, neighborhood place that I frequented pre-Covid and that I hope to again frequent.
For breakfast, I ordered a ham and swiss sandwich. When it was heated and then served to me in a take-out bag I asked if I could have the sandwich – as I have countless times in the past – served to me instead on a plate so that I can eat it at the table in Peet’s at which I am now working.
The barista politely replied “We don’t do that any more.”
No more dishes to wash. No more having to stock plastic knives and forks (as, indeed, there are now only spoons available at the kiosk where there was once available spoons, knives, and forks). So I ate the hot, somewhat drippy sandwich with my hands. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I would have had I been able to eat it from a plate.
I don’t remember if the nominal price that I paid in 2019 for this sandwich was lower than is the price that I paid today. If not, then it appears that no inflation has affected this sandwich price. That appearance is likely an illusion. The quality of the product is lower than it was in the past. The real price of the product is, therefore, higher. I strongly suspect that this small instance is evidence of hidden inflation.