Trying To Bowl Them Over With Common Sense

| Right | June 17, 2016

(One popular food item at our shop is a bowl with a foil lid. When the bowl is finished, the employees put the lid on top and fold the foil so it stays in place. The customer can carry the bowl out as-is, or carry it in a bag. However, our store has just run out of the bags. We have other, smaller bags for a different type of item, but the bowls don’t fit them well and it has been causing some problems, especially if they are carried upright. I’ve asked my manager if I can just tell customers that we are out of bags, but they have requested that I just warn customers about these problems every time a customer asks for a bag, and give them one of the smaller ones if they still insist. Despite these warnings several other customers have already spilled their bowls all over the floor, becoming so frequent that I have been keeping a broom and mop at the ready right behind the register to deal with it.)

Me: “…and here’s your receipt. Have a great night!”

Customer #1: “Can I have a bag?”

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am. Unfortunately we are out of the bag that fits these bowls right now. I do have—”

Customer #1: *cutting me off and pointing to the smaller bags* “One of those! A bag! I want one.”

Me: “I do have these bags, but they’re too small. The bowl will only fit sideways, and it has a tendency to squeeze the sides and pop the lid off, which will—”

Customer #1: *clearly getting irate, she reaches over the counter, grabs a folded bag from the top of the stack, and opens it* “I just wanted a bag!”

Me: “Yes, you can have that bag, but please be careful because it’s too tight. It might pop the lid off and spill your bowl. You’ll have to hold it sideways so that won’t happen, okay? Again, I’m very sorry.”

Customer #1: *trying and failing repeatedly to fit the bowl into the bag horizontally* “It doesn’t fit!”

Me: *I can tell the customer hasn’t been listening, so I make sure to reiterate now that she’s recognized that something isn’t normal* “Yes, they can be tricky, since those aren’t the bags for the bowls. It has to go in on its side. You’ll have to carry it like this, okay? Otherwise it will pop the lid off and your bowl will spill. Sorry again, and have a great night.”

Customer #1: “Ugh!”

(The customer grabs the bag by the top and yanks it out of my hands, causing it to become vertical. The lid immediately pops off, and the weight of the ingredients quickly ruptures the bottom of the now sauce-soaked paper bag, spilling all over the counter and the floor.)

Customer #1: “WHAT THE F***?”

Me: “Uh oh! I’m sorry that happened, ma’am. If you’d like to jump right up to the front of the line there, they can make you a fresh bowl on the house.”

(I quickly wipe down the counter and start sweeping up the mess. Hearing the customer yelling, my manager starts walking up to the register.)

Customer #1: “I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS S***! WHAT DID YOU DO?”

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am, it’s just those bags. You’ll have to hold them sideways or the lid will pop off.”

Customer #1: “DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO! I CAN HOLD THE F***ING BAG HOWEVER I WANT!”

Manager: “Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you to stop swearing in front of the other guests, please. What seems to be the matter here?”

Customer #1: “MY FOOD JUST EXPLODED ALL OVER THE PLACE BECAUSE THIS GUY DID SOMETHING TO IT!”

Manager: “[My Name], why does this keep happening? I told you to warn customers about the bags!”

Me: *already finished mopping, put up a wet floor sign, ready to take the next customer* “Yes. sir, I did.”

Customer #1: “HE’S LYING! HE MADE MY BAG EXPLODE ON PURPOSE!”

(The next customer in line speaks up.)

Customer #2: “Lady, he warned you, like, three times.”

Customer #1: “HE DID NOT!”

Me: “I promise you, sir, I’ve been warning every single person who gets a bag for a bowl.”

Manager: “Then how does this keep happening?”

Me: “Um…”

(I start frantically trying to think of the politest possible way to say that some people don’t listen.)

Customer #2: “Some people don’t listen!”

Customer #1: “THEY’RE BOTH F****** LYING!”

Manager: “I’m sorry, ma’am, please watch your language. If you’d like to skip to the front of the line we can get you another bowl on us.”

Customer: “THIS IS F****** RIDICULOUS! I WAITED IN LINE FOR HALF AN HOUR! YOU’RE WASTING MY TIME! I’M GONNA CALL THE OWNER AND YOU’RE ALL GONNA GET FIRED!”

Me: “If you don’t want a replacement, I’d be happy to refund your money for you if you’d like.”

Customer #1: *starts pushing other customers out of the way to run up and down the counter, shoving her finger in all the other workers’ faces* “YOU HEAR THAT? YOU’RE ALL GETTING FIRED! EVERY LAST ONE OF YOU! ESPECIALLY YOU!”

(She ends by pointing to me, and then runs out the door, without any food or a refund.)

Me: *to manager* “Say, boss, can I please just tell customers they can’t have a bag for a bowl because we’re out?”

Manager: *sighing deeply* “Please do.”

Me: “And can I do a customer appreciation comp?”

Manager: “Sure.”

Me: “Thanks.” *to [Customer #2]* “Any drinks for you tonight with your food?”

Customer #2: “No, thanks. And no bag, either!”

Me: “All right, then, your total will be zero dollars. Have a nice night!”

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