Owner Owning Up

| Denver, CO, USA | Working | October 4, 2016

(My wife and I are at a work conference in Denver. On our way out of town, we stop at a little cafe to have an early lunch. The place is empty, and it seems like there is only one waitress and a cook in the whole place. The kitchen is open so you can watch the guy walking around. The waitress is pleasant and brings us our drinks promptly, and takes our orders.)

Wife: “I’ll have the [Burger] with fries.”

Me: “I’ll have the pastrami sandwich with fries.”

Waitress: “I’ll get that started for you. Anything else I can get you in the meantime?”

Us: “No, thanks.”

(As we wait, we can overhear the cook talking animatedly on the phone, though we can’t really tell what he is saying. He puts our order on the counter, lets the waitress know, takes off his apron, and walks out the back. The waitress brings us our food and everything looks all right. The waitress leaves and we start eating.)

Wife: “These fries are kinda overdone.”

Me: “They are pretty crispy…”

(I dig around and see that the deeper I go, the more well done they are.)

Me: “Actually, these are burnt.”

(My wife digs into her pile to find the same is true.)

Me: “I don’t know? Is it worth sending them back? You know how much I hate making a scene or wasting food.”

Wife: “These are beyond ‘oops they are a little overdone.’ They are so hard they are actually painful to eat, and taste terrible. Let’s just ask the waitress what she can do about it. We don’t have to yell at her; just be polite and ask what she can do about it.”

(I waive over the waitress.)

Me: “These fries are really kinda burnt. Is there something you can do about it?”

Waitress: *grabs a fry off my plate and examines it* “I’m so sorry, these are inedible. I’ll get another batch for you right away, and I’ll cook them myself.” *as she’s walking away she mumbles to herself* “I thought I heard him say something about ‘not too overdone; oh, well.’ I should have known.”

(In record time the waitress has returned with lovely fries.)

Waitress: “Here you are. Again, sorry about that. We’re a little short today, and the cook is trying to handle too many things at once. But he should know better.”

Me: “No worries, I understand. Mistakes happen. Thank you for fixing the situation.”

Waitress: *goes into the back*

(We eat a while longer, and everything is pleasant until I get to the second half of my sandwich.)

Me: “What the hell? The second half of my sandwich is ham, wrapped in a single slice of pastrami so you can’t see it until you bite into it.”

Wife: “Seriously?”

Me: “Yeah, look…”

Wife: “It’s a good thing you aren’t Jewish, or, you know, allergic to pork like me.”

Me: “I can’t believe they would do that… It still tastes good, so I’m going to eat it anyway, but I think I should talk to the waitress about it.”

Wife: “You should.”

Me: “I think I’ll wait till after we’re done and have paid. I don’t want to give the impression that I am looking for free food.”

(We finish eating, ask the waitress for the check, pay, get the receipt back, and have signed it.)

Me: *to waitress as she is clearing the table* “Can I talk to you about something quickly?”

Waitress: “Yeah, what’s up?”

Me: “I just wanted to give you some words to take back to the cook. If you run out of pastrami, let the customer know, and ask them if they are cool with a ham substitution, or if they’d rather have something else. If you burn the fries, own it and make a new batch before you send them out to—”

Waitress: *cuts me off* “Did your sandwich have ham on it?”

Me: “Yes.”

Waitress: “Hang on one sec. I’m gonna grab the cook.”

(She calls over the cook who has recently re-entered the building.)

Owner/Cook: “Hey, I’m [Cook], the owner of [Cafe]. What can I do for you?”

Me: “Hi, [Cook]. I just wanted to give you a couple pieces of friendly advice. If you run out of pastrami, don’t sub ham without asking. It wasn’t a big deal for me, but my wife is allergic and it could have been a serious situation. If you burn fries, own it, and remake them before the customer sees it. If you get a reputation for trying to slip things in ‘unnoticed’ and only fixing them if someone complains, you will go out of business. In a cafe, your food needs to speak for itself, and if you have to redo things all the time because of simple mistakes like burning the fries, you won’t last long. I’m not after anything; I ran my own business for years, and I just want to see other small business owners do well for themselves. And this wasn’t exactly a gold star for you. However…” *points to waitress* “She was your saving grace. Whatever you are paying her, she deserves a raise because she was on point during our whole visit. If she hadn’t been so polite and helpful, I might have just left and let you stumble along.”

Owner/Cook: *shocked look on his face* “I… I… You’re right. I’m sorry. You nailed it on every point. I ran out of pastrami, and didn’t feel I had time, so I fudged it. I burnt the fries but thought I might be able to get away with it, cause they weren’t black. Thank you for calling me on the carpet. I really appreciate you taking the time to say something polite and that you showed an interest in my business, not just your own lunch. [Waitress], their meal is on me.”

Me: “As I said, I’m not after anything in this situation. We both ate our food, and have already paid.”

Owner: “No, not good enough! [Waitress], go reverse the charge on the card!”

(She walks away.)

Owner: “I already pay her more than any of my other staff because she is the best. But you’re right, she probably deserves more.”

Me: “Well, why don’t we forget the reversal of charges and you can give the whole cost of the meal to her as a tip directly?”

(Before he can answer, the waitress returns with a reversal slip.)

Owner: “Too late. It’s on the house!”

(We chat with him for another ten minutes and enjoy it. As we stand to leave I pull the cost of the meal in cash out of my wallet and leave it under my water glass. As I walk out past the waitress:)

Me: “I left a little something on the table for you.”

Waitress: “Thank you so much for talking to the owner. I’ve never seen him react like that with anyone before. He usually gets upset!”

The Tip Of The Stupidity Ice-Berg

| Melbourne, VIC, Australia | Right | September 22, 2016

(A customer has just ordered an iced coffee and sat down. Once the barista finishes making the drink, I bring it over to the customer.)

Me: “Here’s your iced coffee, sir.”

Customer: “What? Oh no. No, no, this isn’t what I wanted. No, this won’t do at all!”

Me: “Sorry, sir, is this not what you ordered?”

Customer: “Well, I ordered an iced coffee.”

Me: “Yes…”

Customer: “There’s ice cubes in it.”

Me: “Yes, sir…?”

Customer: “Well, I didn’t realise there would be ice in it.”

You Drain What’s Left Of My Brain

| Australia | Right | September 21, 2016

(Today at work we are experiencing more customers than usual and are drastically understaffed. I have recently undergone brain surgery for a hemorrhage so my hair is on the short side for a girl my age. After manning our coffee machine for several hours, a particularly sassy woman approaches the counter, pushing aside several customers in the process.)

Customer: “I demand to be served immediately!”

Me: “Sorry, ma’am, but you’ll have to wait in line like everyone else.”

Customer: “You just don’t want to serve a straight woman like myself because you’re a lesbian.”

Me: “I beg your pardon, madam, but I am not a lesbian and I’m just asking that you wait in line like everyone else.”

Customer: “But you have short hair.”

Me: “Ma’am, that doesn’t mean I’m a lesbian. In fact I’ve recently undergone brain surgery and to operate they had to cut my hair off.”

(By this point I’m incredibly frustrated as my line is growing longer every minute she carries on with her rant.)

Customer: “Oh, you’re a f**k*** liar! I just want a coffee and a straight person to serve me.”

(A man approaches the woman looking about as angry as I am.)

Customer #2: “Look here, b****, this poor girl has had an extreme surgery and as a result her hair is short. If you have any tips for her on how she should style herself then leave them in the tip jar!”

(The woman turned bright red, quickly dropped a $20 note in my tip jar, and high-tailed it out of the shop.)

Nuts About Secrecy

| UK | Working | September 12, 2016

(A local cafe which makes all of its dishes from scratch is offering “luxury cheese on toast” as a special. Being allergic to nuts, I ask what the ingredients were.)

Cashier: “It’s a secret!”

Me: “Okay, but I need to know the ingredients.”

Cashier: “It’s a secret recipe, but it’s very nice.”

Me: “I can’t eat nuts. Can you tell me if it has nuts in the recipe?”

Cashier: “It’s cheese on toast. I wouldn’t think it would have nuts. It’s been a very good seller. Lots of people have given us good feedback.”

Me: “I’m sure, but can you tell me for sure if there are any nuts or nut oils used in it?”

Cashier: “I don’t have the recipe; it’s secret. But I don’t think it has nuts.”

Me: “…”

Cashier: “…”

Me: “I’ll just have a coffee.”

Time For Her To Reverse On Out Of There

| MD, USA | Working | August 19, 2016

(I’m a manager at a very busy cafe. One day I head over to the restaurant for work. On my way there, a woman nearly hits me while changing lanes without using her blinker. I slam my brakes and lay on my horn, but she doesn’t even acknowledge the accident she almost started. She proceeds to cut off four other people, again without a blinker and without any room for her car to even go. She’s headed in the same direction as I am. When we turn off to the same shopping center, she pulls in front of another store, nearly hitting a pedestrian. While she’s not in front of me, I manage to get a look at her face. I go in the cafe and start setting up. An hour later, the same woman comes into the cafe.)

Insane Woman: *to the host* “HEY. I need to talk to the manager.”

Host: “Sure thing. What did you need to see the manager for? I can let him know when I tell him that you’d like to see him.”

Insane Woman: “None of your god-d*** business. Go get your manager.”

Host: *shocked* “Uh, okay.”

(The host comes to get me and tells me that there’s a woman to see me and that she appears to be angry. I ask what the problem was and the host, of course, doesn’t know. He mentions that she has just walked in.)

Me: “Hello, ma’am, how can I help you?”

(At this point, I recognize her from this morning)

Insane Woman: “I want a job application.”

Me: *trying not to laugh in disgust* “Oh, really? What makes you want to work here?”

Insane Woman: “Is that really any of your business?”

Me: “Considering that I do the hiring, yes.”

Insane Woman: “Does this place pay well? Also, I don’t work weekends.”

Me: *trying to contain myself* “I don’t think this would be a good fit for you.”

Insane Woman: *glaring* “Uh… WHY?”

Me: “Well, first, your attitude is sour and our cafe is known for its friendly staff. Second, your insane driving habits would be extremely off-putting to anyone who knew you worked here.”

Insane Woman: “How would YOU know how I drive?!”

Me: “Because you almost hit me this morning when you cut me off.”

Insane Woman: *silent*

Me: “You then almost hit four other cars and when you pulled into this shopping center about an hour ago, you nearly hit a pedestrian.”

Insane Woman: *rolls her eyes*

Me: “I sincerely hope you go home and work on your attitude some more. Being rude is one thing; causing physical danger to the people around you, though, is absolutely unforgivable. Have a nice day.”

Insane Woman: “Where’s the job application I asked for?”

Me: *thinking: has she even been listening?* “Have a nice day.”

(I walked away and she just stood there for a minute before leaving.)

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