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It’s Lonely At The Top… Because You’re Bad At It

, , , , | Working | January 5, 2022

My husband and I are regulars at this popular global pizza chain outlet. We always ask to be seated at the same set of tables because of this awesome waitress. She’s always smiling, she’s super attentive, she never gets the orders wrong, and she has great customer service overall. Every time, I compliment her in person and to her manager and leave fabulous online feedbacks.

During the course of about three years, I gather that she is studying in college and works here part-time. Once, I ask her about her wages, and I am upset because she doesn’t get paid a lot. My husband is a manager at a global footwear chain and I persuade him to hire her as they pay considerably higher. He just says that he would rather consider her after she’s finished her college degree as she can join as a manager-trainee rather than a store assistant — that’s if she is willing.

Then, just like that, we start eating more at home and we do not visit that restaurant for about a year or so. One afternoon, we are both back from work early and plan to meet at this restaurant for a quick lunch. The place is not so busy. There is no host, so we just seat ourselves at our usual table.

A new waitress brings us the menu. I am a little disappointed that we do not have our regular waitress but do not mention that. We place our orders: two meals (one drink, appetizer, and a personal pizza), one additional large appetizer, and a pasta. The waitress seems a little stressed out in general. We talk about the old waitress and think that she may have graduated and left this job.

We wait for a few minutes and our drinks have not arrived. We flag down our waitress and she signs at us that she’s getting our orders. Soon, she brings our drinks and just two appetizers that come with the meals. The large appetizer is missed out.

Me: “Hey, where’s the additional appetizer?”

Waitress: “Sorry, ma’am, it will take a while.”

Me: “Okay, no problem. And I ordered my drink without ice. This has ice in it.”

Waitress: “Oh, sorry, let me take it back.”

I never order drinks with ice because I start wheezing. When my drinks get mixed up, the staff (at all restaurants I have ever visited) usually remake the drink without ice, or, if it can’t be made without ice, they suggest me an alternate one. This drink can definitely be made without ice, so I send it back for a new one.

And we wait! After a long wait, the waitress is back. By now, we have finished off our appetizers.

Me: “Hey, did you just remove the ice from my old drink?”

Waitress: *Without missing a beat* “Yes, ma’am.”

Me: “But I had taken a sip out of it. Even otherwise, why would you do that? Don’t you just remake it?”

Waitress: “No, ma’am. We are not allowed to remake drinks. You can place a fresh order, but we won’t replace this one for free.”

Me: “But my order said, ‘No ice’.”

My voice is stern and the waitress looks like she’s about to cry.

Husband: “You know what? Leave it here. Get a fresh one without ice this time. And please bring our appetizer soon.”

She looks relieved and goes away.

Husband: “Before you say it, I know; you were right and she was wrong. But she looks like she’s having a hard time.”

Me: “It’s not even crowded. Why would she be so stressed?! [Old Waitress] was super awesome; we never had trouble!”

After a while, the waitress brings our pizzas out. There’s no sign of our large appetizer and my fresh drink at all.

Me: “Hey, what about the appetizer and fresh drink?”

Waitress: “Ma’am, I’m really sorry about the delay. I will get them for you right away.”

Husband: “The pizzas are already cold!”

She just looks at us in tears.

Me: “Never mind. Please go and get the rest of the food.”

We eat the cold pizzas with no drink. We have waited long enough to just want to go away now. We flag her down again.

Me: “Hey, you know what? Please cancel the rest of the orders and get us our bill. We’d like to leave.”

Waitress: “Bu, ma’am, the appetizer is ready; I can bring it out.”

Me: “Go ahead and bring it immediately. But please cancel the others.”

She goes away teary-eyed and comes back with the appetizer, which is awfully cold already. I can’t take it anymore!

Me: “I do not want this; it is cold. Please return it and do not charge us for it.”

Waitress: “Ma’am, the manager will not allow it. You have to pay for what you have ordered.”

Me: “But we have only eaten cold food and you have gotten every order wrong so far. We have never had this bad an experience here.”

Waitress: “Okay, let me check with my manager about what can be done!”

Every time she goes inside the kitchen, she comes back looking worse. She’s now almost in tears again.

Waitress: “Ma’am, the manager does not agree. We will bring you the drink and pasta, too. We cannot cancel anything as it has been so long since it was ordered.”

Me: “Exactly, that’s the point. It has been so long and we just want to get away now.”

The waitress starts sobbing slowly.

Husband: “Hey, are you okay?”

Waitress: “Sorry, sir! The manager is cooking today as the cook has called in sick. She’s slow and has been getting all orders wrong since morning. We are having a tough day.”

Me: “Oh, no! That explains your stress. I’m so sorry for being harsh on you. Calm down; it’s not your fault anyway. Please get your manager here. We will explain the problem and cancel the rest of the stuff.”

She goes away to bring her manager. I hear someone screaming from the kitchen that the orders cannot be cancelled. A minute later, the “manager” walks out angrily with the waitress in tow.

My husband and I look at each other in disbelief; it’s our regular waitress! The moment she sees us, she’s all smiles.

Old Waitress: “Hello, ma’am! Hello, sir! How are you?”

Husband: “Well, not having a good time, as you may know by now.”

She looks sheepish.

Me: “You cannot remake drinks, orders are delayed, and food is cold. And you cannot cancel the orders?”

Old Waitress: “Ma’am, it reflects badly on our sales metrics to cancel orders.”

Me: “But you did it all the time when you were a waitress.”

She’s struggling to explain!

Me: “You knew that you couldn’t just take the ice out of drinks. Is that even allowed? That’s so unhygienic!”

Old Waitress: “Well, I made some changes since I took charge. But I can remake the drink now. We will get your food out soon. We will fix it, ma’am!”

Me: “No, you gave our waitress a hard time all this while and now you want to fix it. You have changed so much, haven’t you?!”

Husband: “Just cancel everything and give us the bill for our food. We are done here.”

She tried hard to convince us to wait, but we were beyond done by then. When we just placed the money on the table and started leaving, she was forced to give us the bill.

We tipped the waitress and apologised to her for the hard time she had. We really felt bad for her for having to deal with that obnoxious manager. I did give feedback about our experience and we haven’t been back to that place since.

My husband dodged a bullet by not hiring that lady. Now, any time we want to talk about someone moving up the ladder and becoming rude and obnoxious, we use her name!

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