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Smoke Break Sending The Wrong Smoke Signals

, , , | Right | July 13, 2018

(I work in a pizza place. I’ve been trying to quit smoking for a few weeks, but on slow days at work I tend to break and have one or two cigarettes on shift. On a break, I stand outside, at the front corner of the building so that I can be ready if a customer pulls in. My husband works odd jobs for the owners of the store, and frequently visits while I’m working. One day he visits twice, and I take a break with him both times — once at 1:30 pm, and again at 5:00 pm. About two drags into the second break, a customer arrives, so I put my smoke out and take care of them. When they leave, I go back out to finish. I receive a forwarded text conversation from the owner the next day.)

Customer: “I was on my way to [Next Town Over] at 1:30, and I saw your worker girl in [My Town], standing outside smoking with her boyfriend. We returned to [My Town] at five and she was still outside smoking with her boyfriend. She followed us in, washed her hands — THANK GOD! — and made our order. She then followed us out the door and LIT ANOTHER CIGARETTE! That girl needs to be fired!”

Owner: “I spoke to [My Name] and have cleared the matter up. She will no longer take smoke breaks in view of the road, and has apologized for any offense given. She has been trying to quit, and is very upset that this has affected someone other than herself.”

Customer: “I find it hard to believe she’s trying to quit if she’s out there all day, chain smoking.”

Owner: “I cleared that up, as well. She had two, separate smoke breaks at 1:30 and 5:00, and the third smoke break you witnessed — when she “followed you out” — was actually her relighting the same cigarette about five minutes after you’d left the store.”

Customer: “We weren’t even in our car! Five minutes, my a**!”

(They had gone next door to buy drinks before getting into their car.)

Owner: “In any case, I have no grounds on which to fire her. She’s one of our best workers. In fact, she is indispensable. She has apologized, taken steps to avoid future problems, and is very upset about the whole thing. I hope this won’t affect your opinion of her, because she really is a great girl and has really good customer service skills.”

Customer: “I also have a problem with her boyfriend hanging around all day. She can’t be getting anything done with that distraction.”

Owner: “He’s actually her husband, and also employed by me. They work very well together on the rare occasion I have them work together, and I’ve never had problems with things not being done on her shifts. I am aware he visits frequently and have no problem with it.”

Customer: “I just find it all very unprofessional. I see it so often in little, small-town businesses. They are all so casual and laid-back, and it’s terrible for business.”

Owner: “Actually, our regulars really enjoy our casual, laid-back atmosphere. I’ve found that most small-town folks enjoy a small-town attitude. As for unprofessional treatment, do you have a complaint about [My Name]’s customer service? Was she inattentive or dismissive? Was your order wrong? I’ve never known her to be anything but bright, courteous, and thorough.”

Customer: “So, you’re telling me you’ll do nothing about this incident? Smoking is disgusting, and having her boyfriend around all day is even worse! I want something done about this.”

Owner: “I have addressed the issue. I spoke to [My Name], clarified the situation, and she herself has taken steps to avoid further complaint. I see no reason to drag this out any more. I don’t like to harass my employees about something that’s already been addressed. That’s how you lose workers.”

Customer: “Good. I want her fired.”

Owner: “I’m not going to do that.”

Customer: “Then you have lost a customer.”

Owner: “If that’s what you feel you need to do, I can’t stop you. But I won’t fire my best employee simply because one person wants me to.”

Customer: “And that’s why your business is going to fail. I have a business degree, and I know how it goes. You won’t last a month here.”

(The business has already been thriving in this town for almost a year. This is a first time/last time customer who is clearly just having a bad day.)

Owner: “I’m sorry about your experience, ma’am. I’d love to keep your business, but some people just can’t be pleased. I hope you enjoyed your pizza. Have a nice life!”

Customer: “I’m a guy!”

(The owner and I had a little laugh about it later.)

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