The Power Of The Holiday Season

| Right | December 21, 2015

(I work for a large, popular coffee shop chain and it is four days before Christmas. A wind storm has caused all but our emergency power to go out, and we only have a few lights, one computer, and one espresso machine working. Our district manager refuses to authorize a complete shutdown until the final machines die, so we are still taking customers. Our store is very dark and oddly quiet due to the lack of music and refrigerator exhaust.)

Customer: “I’ll have a venti nonfat latte and a bacon breakfast sandwich.”

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am. We can still make the drink, but our oven is not working at the moment, so we can’t heat up a sandwich for you.”

Customer: “Oh. Okay. Well, the latte then. Can you also grind this coffee for a French press?” *places a pound of our company’s holiday coffee on the counter*

Me: “I’m afraid our grinder is out of commission as well right now. We have pre-ground bags of that coffee available on sale today, but the grind is intended for an electric coffee maker, not a French press.”

Customer: *getting annoyed* “Okay…” *grabs a gift card from our impulse display* “Can you put $15 on this and give me an envelope?”

(I scan the card and give it back to her.)

Me: “Be sure to hold onto the receipt for that. Our system is partially down and while I’m not anticipating it, there’s a small chance that the activation might not go through right away.”

Customer: *fully angry now* “Why are you being so god-d*** unhelpful today? It’s four days before Christmas! You people should have been prepared for a large amount of customers!”

Me: *very calmly* “Ma’am, we were prepared for a lot of customers. What we weren’t prepared for was a wind storm strong enough to knock out our power. That’s why our oven, grinder, and computers aren’t working to their normal capacity.”

(The woman blinks and looks around, as if she’s only now just noticing the building’s darkness and eerie silence.)

Customer: “Oh, wow. I didn’t even notice.”

Me: *trying to smile as I hand her the latte* “We’re working with what we have for now.”

Customer: “You have no business being open if you can’t take care of people!” *flounces off*

Me: “Merry Christmas!”

(Thank goodness we got the call to shut down only a few minutes later, but those few minutes involved several more people who could not comprehend that we couldn’t do much for them.)

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