So Tender And Wild

, , , , , | Right | September 14, 2019

(It’s about 7:40 pm. The deli stops serving hot foods at seven, and deli clerks are to clock out by nine. We are behind as it is. My coworker and I are cleaning the deep fryers, washing dishes, and the like.)

Customer: *approaches hastily* “Are you guys closed?”

Coworker: *stops washing dishes* “Yeah, we are. Sorry.”

Customer: *annoyed* “Well, that’s just great! When do you normally close?!”

Coworker: “We close every night at seven, ma’am.”

(The customer lady checks her phone to see the time and just grunts annoyingly.)

Customer: “So, you’re telling me I can’t get four chicken tenders?!”

(There is a pan of old, kind of burnt chicken tenders in the now turned-off display case. It’s not been heated for way over the ten-minute rule and was dried out even before we turned off the heat. I stop in the middle of cleaning the deep fryer and turn to her.)

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am. But we stop serving food from that side of the deli at seven. I can get you something from our salad bar—”

Customer: *interrupting me* “You’re telling me you can’t give me four chicken strips?!”

Me: “No, ma’am…”

Customer: “Then what’re you gonna do with them?!”

Me: “Normally at seven, if the tenders are still fresh, we put them in the fridge to be packaged up tomorrow and sold as cold food. But those have been sitting for a while even before we closed, so—”

Customer: *interrupting again* “You can’t give me four d*** chicken tenders?!”

Me: “I just said—”

Coworker: “Sorry, we can’t. It’s the rules.”

Me: “Yeah, it’d be against code for me to serve them to you.”

Customer: “Fine! Whatever!” *leaves*

(My coworker and I exchange looks and then get back to what we were doing. The customer comes back not two minutes later.)

Customer: “So, you’re telling me I can’t get four d*** chicken tenders?!”

Me: *internally screaming* “No, ma’am. You cannot. If you really want some, we do have some cold packaged tenders over at the cold display case.”

Customer: “But isn’t that stale, too?”

Coworker: “No, it’s not, ma’am. It was cooled and packaged before it was stale, keeping it mostly fresh for you—”

Customer: “So, you’re telling me that the packaged tenders are stale?”

Coworker: “No… It’s not. It’s more like…” *starts trying to explain to her how bacteria in food and temperature works like on our food handlers test*

Customer: “So, the packaged ones are filled with bacteria.”

Coworker: “No. It’s…” *starts repeating himself*

Me: “It’s not how it works, ma’am. And it’s just too late. The hot food is closed down for the night. We’re just following the rules.”

Customer: “I just want four chicken tenders!”

Coworker: *starts explaining again*

Me: “We’re not supposed to, ma’am. We don’t make the rules.”

Customer: “So, you’re telling me the packaged tenders have bacteria in them?!”

Coworker: *getting really tired of repeating himself*

Me: “Look, I’m sorry, ma’am. But we just don’t want to give you bad food and get in trouble. All right?”

(That seems to have done it, because she then leaves again and doesn’t come back.)

Coworker: *after a few minutes* “I miss her.”

Me: “Me, too… If she comes back, I wanna make sure to throw those tenders into the compost right in front of her.”

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