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If The Customer Gives Up Halfway Through, So Can You

, , , , , | Right | October 14, 2021

I work in the deli section of a chain of gas stores. We make anything from hotdogs and sandwiches to pizza and Stromboli. I’m a few weeks into doing deli work, so I am still kind of slow trying to learn everything and often unsure of my abilities.

While I’m working alone on a particularly slow Sunday afternoon, a guy in his late twenties comes to me for something on the go.

Me: “Hello, welcome to [Store]. My name’s [My Name]. What can I get for you?”

The guy looks at our menu for a few moments.

Customer: “I’d like a large ham sub.”

Me: “I’m sorry. We only have one size.”

Customer: “Okay, the largest you have.”

I assume he just said that out of habit.

Me: “Okay, what kind of bread?”

Customer: “White.”

Me: “Okay, sure. Lettuce? Tomato? Mayo?”

Customer: “American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and pickles.”

Me: “Sure thing!” 

I start opening the containers for vegetables and cheese he wants and begin slicing the bread in half as he just stands there, seemingly looking at the menu or at me prepping stuff, and not saying anything. 

In general, people want either mustard or mayo on their sandwich/sub and sometimes get rather upset if I mess up. Before assembling the sub, I ask again about the condiment. 

Me: “So, did you want mayo or mustard?”

Customer: *Still with his mind elsewhere* “Yes!”

Me: *Thinking he misunderstood the question* “Sorry, did you want mayo or mustard on your sub?”

Customer: *Answering without any hint of confusion* “Yes!”

Before I can find a better phrasing to confirm that it is one or the other, he walks off and disappears out of sight and shouting distance and leaves me there trying to think on what exactly he wants.

Afraid of screwing it up and/or getting yelled at for not knowing what he really wants, I quickly ask another coworker walking around nearby and stocking stuff on shelves for help.

Coworker: “Don’t worry about it. Just give him both.”

Me: “You sure?”

Coworker: “Yes. He either wants both or is too stupid to stick around and give you a straight answer!”

Taking her advice, I assembled the sub with everything — half mayo, half mustard — wrapped it up, and rang out his order.

The customer came back maybe ten minutes later and grabbed his food with little more than a “Thanks!” before walking out the door.

Apparently, he had been acting in a similarly “out of sorts” manner while at the front register. He didn’t appear to be intoxicated or on drugs and may have just had an off day.

Looking back, I should’ve been a little more assertive and tried harder for a straight answer, but he never came back to complain, so maybe he did want both. It did give us something to laugh about for a while after that, though.