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Makes You Sand-wish You’d Gotten Pizza

, , , , , , | Working | January 29, 2021

I’m coordinating lunches for an event coming up on a Saturday. There will be thirty-one teenagers to feed, so I’m shopping online for the best options at the lowest prices. I find that the best deal is a four-foot sub sandwich in the deli section of the local big box store. It says it serves sixteen to twenty, so I figure two of those will be just what we need.

On Tuesday, I try all day to call the deli to place the order, since there’s no way to place the order online. The phone just rings and rings with no answer. I finally decide to just stop in after work and place the order in person. The young woman behind the counter seems to be totally confused, having no idea what I’m talking about.

Employee #1: “We need twenty-four hours’ notice for special orders.”

Me: “Oh, there’s plenty of time. I just need them on Saturday.”

She eventually goes and gets a laminated menu card and I show her what I want to order. She goes into the back for a minute, I assume to retrieve an order pad. She comes back with a little notebook from which she tears a piece of paper. She writes down the kind of sandwich I want. I remind her, twice, that I need two of them, so she finally writes the number two with an arrow pointing to the name of the sandwich.

Me: “I would like to pick them up at noon on Saturday.”

She writes, “Saturday 12:00.” She acts like we’re all done.

Me: “Don’t you want my name or phone number?”

I finally insist that she write my name and number on the order.

By Friday, I’m worried that the order has been lost since I have absolutely no faith in the employee who took the order, so I try to call the deli again to confirm the order. Again, I try calling all day and get no answer. Finally, I go into the store in person. I see that [Employee #1] is there, and I’m not looking forward to dealing with her again, but she helps another customer who came in just ahead of me and [Employee #2] steps up to help me.

Me: “Hi. I’ve already placed an order for tomorrow and I just want to confirm it.”

Not wanting to directly insult his coworker, I tell a little white lie.

Me: “I’ve had a previous special order get lost, so I just need to confirm that you have the order and that I’ll be here tomorrow at noon to pick it up. My boss will have my head if I mess this up!” 

[Employee #2] goes into the back and comes back with the scrap of paper on which [Employee #1] had written the order.

Employee #2: “Yes, it’s here. We’ll make the sandwiches in the morning and see you at noon.”

You can guess where this is going, right? I arrived at the deli counter promptly at noon on Saturday to encounter [Employee #3], who had no idea what I was talking about, and absolutely no sandwiches made. She offered to do the only thing possible at this point: make the sandwiches as fast as she could. I agreed to come back in forty minutes, hoping my group wasn’t starving to death waiting for lunch, and she agreed to a discount for the trouble.

I picked up the sandwiches forty minutes later and headed back to our event with them. It was then that I noticed that the sandwich that was supposed to feed sixteen to twenty people had been cut into twelve pieces, so now I had twenty-four sandwiches to feed thirty-one people. Fortunately, our group was pretty cooperative about sharing, and with the other snacks and sides we had on hand, we managed to work it out.

I followed up by contacting the store manager, who replied, “I’m sorry we fell short,” and, “I hope you’ll give us another chance.” Not likely! A different big box store just a couple of miles away has the same sandwiches for just $2 more. Next time, I’ll spend the $2.

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