Not An Exercise In Futility

, , , , , , , | Related | February 16, 2018

(One spring, my ten-year-old brother starts campaigning for a puppy. My parents tell him, “We’ll see,” until summer vacation, at which point they show him a large chart.)

Brother: “What’s this?”

Mom: “This is your puppy earning chart. If you want that dog, you’re going to earn him.”

Brother: “Like, with my allowance?”

Dad: “No, with work. Dogs are a lot of work, and we’re not getting one until you prove to us that you will take care of him. We’ll help, of course, but you want the dog, so you have to do the work.”

Mom: “This chart has two parts. One for exercise, and one for chores. Every day this summer that you go out and walk around the neighborhood, at least a mile, you get an exercise check. And every day that you do your chores without us having to nag you, you get a chore check.”

Brother: “Because… dogs need walking! And feeding, and playtime, and stuff!”

Dad: “Exactly. So, if you get both checks on fifty or more days this summer, you’ve proved yourself, and you get what you want. Deal?”

Brother: “Deal!”

(“Treasure” the golden retriever came home with my brother the following fall.)

Wiping This Customer Away

, , , , | Right | February 16, 2018

(Most of our customers are regulars and are really nice, understanding, and patient. I am serving one of those nice, patient regulars when a customer I have never seen comes up and is served by our brand-new employee. We have two slicers for meat and two for cheese. They are fully washed every four hours, and quickly wiped down in between customers if we have the time. We have a line, and three employees working on the deli section.)

Customer: *demanding* “I want one pound of [Brand] turkey.”

Coworker: *on her first day* “Sure!”

(She looks at her trainer to ask where that brand is and her trainer points to the right sliding door.)

Customer: *shouts* “No! Excuse me!”

(She gets the attention of the new coworker and her trainer, who haven’t even turned their backs to her yet.)

Customer: “You will wash that slicer!”

Trainer: *very cheerful* “Yes, we can wipe that down for you.”

Customer: “NO! YOU. WILL. WASH. IT!”

Trainer: *slightly confused* “You want us to take it apart and wash it down?”

Customer: *rolls her eye and glares* “YES!”

(The trainer looks slightly confused, but starts instructing the new girl to take it apart, pointing to the steps, and telling her what she’ll need to clean it. Once the girl is off to wash the pieces at the back sink and getting what she needs, the trainer turns back to talk to the lady.)

Trainer: *back to cheerful as she always is, giving her a big smile* “This will take about 20 to 25 minutes, but if you are willing to wait, we are willing to do it for you.”

Customer: *suddenly angry* “It shouldn’t take that long!”

Trainer: *taken aback, but keeping her helpful attitude* “Well, you see, she’s a new employee, and it usually takes just about that long, anyway.”

Customer: “Well! It shouldn’t take that long! And you should have more people back here; you have a line!*that she was holding up* “I have a deli in [Big Town two hours away], and I have six meat slicers and four cheese slicers, all going all day, and they are washed between each meat change!”

Trainer: *skeptical* “Well, we really don’t have the manpower or the space back here for that, ma’am, but you know what? I think you’re right that we do need to wipe them down more. I’ll ask the manager about changing that. In fact—” *she turns to the other deli workers who all respect her very highly* “Start wiping down the machines between each kind of meat.”

Customer: *scoffs* “You should have more people back here; your service is slow.”

Trainer: “I’m sorry.”

(The lady looks down her nose at the employee the entire time she cleans the slicer, the trainer pointing out anything she missed then giving it a once-over herself. They then cut all the customer’s meat, wiping it down after each kind of meat she orders. She complains to everyone who comes to the line, and tells them to come to her deli if they’re ever in the area, because her girls are so much better. After she has everything she wants, the trainer asks her if she wants to talk to a manager about the changes she wants to see, and she shouts, “NO!” and storms off. She comes back a couple weeks later. The trainer sees her coming, has a girl start cleaning a slicer, and greets her with a smile.)

Trainer: “We saw you coming, and we are already getting a slicer ready for you! And you know what? We also started doing better cleans between meats!”

(We did, because we all agreed it was a good idea to keep cross-contamination down.)

Customer: *gives a sour face and crosses her arms* “Well, I haven’t seen it!”

(The trainer has lost her patience with this lady and doesn’t try to convince her, but keeps her cheerful demeanour, as the customer demands her food the way she wants it. The woman continues her previous rants to the other customers. She leaves again. By this time we have dubbed her “Crazy Deli Lady.” A couple weeks later, she comes again. This time, the trainer turns to have them clean the slicer and calls the manager for our section, to whom we have been reporting every time this customer has come in. She peers through the back door the way she does when she spies on us, and watches this time. The woman goes through her normal scowls and complaining and being rude to the other customers, yelling at the younger employee serving her, and telling everyone within ten feet of her how horrible our service is and how slow and incompetent we are. After watching her, our manager comes out to talk to her. The woman spends ten minutes right there in front of everyone telling her how bad our service is. Our manager then tells her that she’s been watching.)

Customer: “Maybe I will take my business elsewhere!”

Manager: “Good, please do so. Thank you. We won’t be missing you.”

(The manager goes back to her post. The customer turns to our trainer as they finish her order and asks her about her baby, nicely. The trainer has had enough, and gives her short, polite answers, very irritated that she tried to have us all in trouble or fired and then suddenly became nice. I later talk to the manager.)

Me: “So, how did you like ‘Crazy Deli Lady’?”

Manager: “She said she wasn’t coming back. Call me if she does; I’ll have her thrown out. You guys don’t deserve that. I’ve had regular customers call in about her, asking us to ban her. I won’t have her battering my girls again.”

(Before that, I thought she was a pretty strict and mean manager, but I have found a new love for her.)

Ripping Through The Economy

, , , , , , , | Right | February 15, 2018

(I am getting a customer her change. One of the dollar bills I hand her has a small rip in the corner, but I don’t think it’s a big deal. I give her the money, and she just stares at it.)

Me: “Is something wrong?”

Customer: “Does this have a rip in it?”

Me: “Uh… I think it had a small tear–“

Customer: “Oh, no. I can’t accept that. [Store] makes so much money. They can stand to have some ripped up dollars; I can’t. [Store] just makes so much money.”

Me: “Would you like me to get you a different dollar?”

Customer: “Yes. [Store] makes a lot of money. They can keep this one.”

She Does Like To (Belgian) Waffle On And On

, , , , , | Right | February 13, 2018

(My family and I are attending breakfast at an extremely fancy restaurant. My grandmother has a tendency to be a pretty difficult customer, but on this particular day, NOTHING seems to be right. After nearly five minutes of arguing with the hostess, we finally are seated. My grandmother then walks around the buffet tables and returns to our spot, empty-handed, with THE MOST disgusted facial expression I have ever seen. The waitress notices.)

Waitress: “Is everything all right, ma’am?”

Grandmother: “No! This is absolutely disgusting!”

Waitress: “I’m very sorry to hear that. May I ask what’s wrong?”

Grandmother: “Well, for one thing, this table is too small!”

Waitress: “I’m sorry. Would you like me see if there is another table availa—”

Grandmother: “No! We’re already seated! But you said there’d be a full omelet station, and Belgian waffles, but I don’t see any of that here!”

Waitress: “Ma’am, this is what we always serve during breakfast hours.”

Grandmother: “But your ad said a full omelet station and Belgian waffles! I WANTED OMELETS AND BELGIAN WAFFLES!”

Waitress: “I’m sorry, but we don’t serve those in our continental breakfast buffet. Perhaps you are referring to our Sunday Brunch Special?”  

Grandmother: “THE AD SAID THERE’D BE OMELETS AND BELGIAN WAFFLES IN YOUR BREAKFAST BUFFET! I DON’T KNOW WHAT KIND OF PLACE YOU’RE RUNNING HERE!”

(The waitress quickly goes over to the hostess stand and brings back a small flyer, which I read. Sure enough, in bold letters, it advertises a Sunday Brunch Special from 9:00 to 11:30 that features the desired items. It’s 8:00 on Wednesday.)

Grandmother: “Well, you have to do something about this! I don’t want any of that!”

Waitress: “I’m sorry, but I am not able to change the menu like that.”

(My grandmother stopped complaining long enough for the poor waitress to get our drink orders, but was soon at it again, varying between loud, disapproving huffs, slopping and picking at her food, and complaining to anyone who would listen, including strangers. It didn’t help when I discovered a crack in my glass. At that point, she got up and walked INTO the kitchen looking for a manager. By the time we were done with our meal, my grandmother was counting out a 5% tip, and the waitress looked like she was about to cry. So, before I left, I found the manager and told her what happened. Apparently, my grandmother had said the waitress was “incredibly rude” and “had no idea what she was doing.” Then, I hugged our waitress and apologized.)

Beginning To Think These Christmas Miracles Aren’t Miracles

, , , , , | Hopeless | February 12, 2018

Many years ago, before cell phones, my wife and I were traveling through rural western Pennsylvania late Christmas night when our car broke down with no houses anywhere in sight. We resigned ourselves to spending the night in the car. When the sun came up, we saw that there was a farmhouse not too far away, so I knocked on the door, explained our predicament, and asked to use the phone to call a tow truck.

That’s all I asked for: to use the phone.

This is what I got:

They invited us inside, gave us coffee, and fixed us breakfast. The farmer told us there wasn’t any place around where we could get the car fixed on the day after Christmas. I asked about auto parts store. I had tools; I could fix it myself if I could get the right part. He called around until he found a store that was open and drove me there, while our wives had more coffee in the kitchen. They had the part, but I had no credit cards, and they didn’t want to take my personal check because it was from out of state. The farmer told the store manager that he would guarantee my check. After we got back, he insisted on helping me install the part in freezing rain.

And he wouldn’t take a dime.

We stopped there again on our way home a few days later, with a box of chocolates.

And since that time, I have never, ever accepted payment for helping someone else out. When people ask why not, I tell them this story. Thirty-five years later, I still can’t tell — or type — this story without crying.

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