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Members Of The British Tomato Jerk Association

, , , , , | Right | December 10, 2020

I’m working at a chain sandwich shop which is popular in the US but does not exist in Britain. The past week or so, we have had a large group of British tourists come in several days during breakfast. Normally, cashiers are required to ask if the customer has a membership card with us before finishing every transaction, but this group of tourists has told me multiple times that they don’t have cards and don’t want to get them, since they’re going back home in a week and won’t be able to use them.

One morning later in the week, an older couple who I do not recognize comes in to order breakfast. I notice two things about them; first, they both have British accents, and second, the wife’s phone has a case covered in pink rhinestones. Because of their accents, I stupidly assume that they are with the group of tourists who have been coming in lately and I just forgot their faces — plausible since it is a large group — so I don’t ask for their membership card. They both order the same breakfast sandwich, and I finish the transaction. After they are all paid out, the husband speaks up.

Husband: “Why didn’t you ask for our membership card?”

Me: “Oh, do you have one?”

Husband: “Of course, we do.”

At this point, I realize I have made a mistake, but I don’t want to admit that I assumed they were tourists because of their accents, both because I am afraid they will be insulted and because I’m embarrassed at having made such an assumption.

Me: “I’m so sorry, sir. It must have slipped my mind; that is entirely my fault.”

Husband: “So we won’t get credit for this transaction?”

Me: “Unfortunately, there’s no way for me to add a transaction to your account once it has been paid out, but if you log into your account on our website and enter the code at the bottom of the receipt, it will add the transaction for you.”

Husband: “So because you made a mistake, we have to do work? That doesn’t seem fair.”

Me: “I know, and again, I’m sorry, but once the transaction has been paid out, there really is nothing I can do.”

The husband sighs, disgruntled, and he and his wife head to our patio and sit down. A few minutes later, one of our runners brings them their food, and a few minutes after that, the husband comes storming back inside. 

Husband: “There are tomatoes on those sandwiches! I hate tomatoes, and so does my wife! Why didn’t you tell me there were tomatoes?”

Me: “I’m sorry, I didn’t know that you didn’t want tomatoes.”

Husband: “It should say on the menu that there are tomatoes! Nowhere on there does it say there are tomatoes!”

He’s right, and I privately agree that it’s a huge mistake not to list all the ingredients, but I have no more control over this than he does.

Me: “I’m very sorry about that. I can see if it’s possible to get the sandwiches remade.”

Husband: “This is just pathetic.”

Me: “Um, let me get you my manager.”

We are trained to get a manager whenever customer satisfaction is at stake. I get my manager who, like me, is a rather petite young woman. The husband berates her, calling her, me, and the rest of the staff “useless” as she apologizes profusely, refunds his order, and has the sandwiches remade. He and his wife receive their remade sandwiches, eat them, and leave. I think that is the end of it until my coworker in charge of table cleanup comes over.

Coworker: “I found this on the patio. A customer must have forgotten it.”

She hands me — you guessed it — a phone in a pink rhinestone case.

Me: “I know exactly who this belongs to. This should be interesting.”

Sure enough, a few hours later, the man and his wife are back. I can see them from the register frantically searching the patio before giving up and heading back to their car. I leave the register and chase them down with the phone.

Me: “Ma’am! Ma’am!”

The wife turns around as I catch up with them.

Me: “Is this yours? Our staff found it left behind on the patio.”

Wife: “Yes! Oh, my God, thank you so much!”

Me: “Of course, happy I could help.”

The husband stood a few feet back, scowling at a spot to my right, but refusing to make eye contact with me. They left after that and I never saw them again, but being the bigger person has never felt more satisfying.

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