Tenders And Wild

, , | Right | January 5, 2019

(I work in a hot deli section of a grocery store where we sell chicken, fries, and other hot foods. We’re currently in the middle of a huge wind storm, and the city has lost power. Lucky for us, our store has a powerful generator so we’re able to stay open. Since we’re the only store in the city with a generator powerful enough to keep us running, the manager on duty asks us to stay open later to serve customers dinner, as they have no other option for hot food. Two hours past our normal closing time, we finally have to shut down our section so that we can clean and go home. We have a coworker go to the line and tell people that we’re closing and that there may not be enough left when they reach the front. We’ve had this older lady — who has been here for about a half hour — leave the line multiple times before this to ask if there’s a chance that she’ll be able to be served, but up until this point we couldn’t give her a real answer because of how many people were waiting. We’ve had a constant line of about fifty people for four hours straight, and we’re running out of food.)

Me: “Next customer, please!”

Customer #1: “Yes, I’d like family-size chicken tenders, please.”

Me: “No problem!” *to coworker* “Put on one last batch of tenders and taters. It’s 8:15—“ *we close at six* “—and we need to get to cleaning. I think that’s the last of the frozen stock we have, anyway.”

(At this point the elder customer is very close to the previous customer, but I know she’s behind the next customer in line.)

Me: “Next, please!”

Customer #2: “Hi! Can I get—“

Elder Customer: “Excuse me! I was first!”

(I really don’t like confronting customers, but luckily [Customer #2] says it for me.)

Customer #2: “Sorry, hun, you’re behind me. You’ve gotten out of line at least twenty times. Anyway, can I get a family-size tender?”

Me: *to [Customer #2]* “Sure, but there’s an eight-minute wait. This is our last batch, so please don’t go anywhere, or I’ll have to sell them to someone else.”

Customer #2: “No problem! I’ve waited for a half-hour; I can wait another eight minutes.”

Me: *to the elder customer* “All right, ma’am, what would you like?”

Elder Customer: “Well, since she wanted to go first, go ahead and serve her!”

Me: “She’s already served, ma’am. What would you like?”

Elder Customer: “No, you finish serving her! Then me!”

(At this point my anxiety spikes, because I don’t want to upset her further, but I know I can only serve about three more people.)

Me: “Ma’am, she’s waiting for the tenders to cook. In fact, that’s our last batch, so I can only serve a few more people after her. I need you to place your order now, or I’ll have to move on, and you won’t be served.”

Elder Customer: “No! You serve her first! She wanted to be served!” *looks to her son for help*

Son: “Look. Just tell her what you want. We’ve been here for almost an hour and we need to get home.”

Me: “Please, ma’am, just tell me what you want and I’ll get it for you. If you don’t order now, I’ll have to move on and you won’t be getting any food.”

Elder Customer: *throws her hand up and storms away, with her defeated son in tow*

Me: *looking at [Customer #2]* “I just… don’t know what to say. Sorry you got involved but… What?”

Customer #2: “I have no idea.” *takes the tray of food as it’s packed up* “Thanks so much for staying open! At least I won’t be eating peanut butter sandwiches like her. Hope your night goes better!”

(To this day, I still can’t reason as to why she would wait for forty-five minutes in line, just to storm away when she was minutes away from getting her food.)

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