We Have No Power To Make Your Experience “Convenient”  

, , , , | Right | August 12, 2019

(I work in a sandwich shop. During prep time, before we open the doors, the power in our store goes out. We can’t really keep prepping perishable foods because of the risk of them not staying at the right temperatures if we keep opening and closing stations, the walk-in cooler, etc. The ovens also go off, so we, of course, can’t make any hot foods. All of our sandwiches are toasted. We make the best of the situation, but the power is out past our opening time. We have to inform customers that we cannot serve them, along with explaining that we have no way of knowing when the power will be back on. Finally, an hour after our posted open time, the power comes back on. Customers are insistent that we should instantaneously be able to start serving them, but we have to dash to finish the prepping we couldn’t do and wait for the oven to heat up from dead cold to almost 600 degrees. The register systems also need to start up, which takes nearly fifteen minutes due to the system being old and slow. I’m standing outside to explain things to customers.)

Customer #1: “Since you can’t serve me, can I get a free drink while I wait?”

(At first, I think he’s joking, so I laugh. He’s still waiting for an answer.)

Me: “Well, the power going out was not under our control.”

Customer #1: “You got twenty people waiting around for you; the power’s already on and we still have to wait?”

Me: “We still have preparations to make and the ovens aren’t ready. The power went out almost two and a half hours ago, which means we lost two and a half hours of preparations. We’ll be informing everyone when we’re ready.”

(He wanders off. I inform another man walking up of the situation.)

Customer #2: “What do you mean, you’re not ready? You’re just making sandwiches.”

Me: “Aside from all of our prep work, our sandwiches are toasted. They have to be cooked at the right temperature and they don’t taste as good cold. We’re sorry about the inconvenience, but it’s an inconvenience for us, too.”

Customer #2: “I guess. Can I buy something else while I wait?”

Me: “Unfortunately, our register systems are also down and will take a while to start up, too…”

Customer #2: “Oh, great. Can you just give me a free drink, then?”

Me: “It wasn’t our doing that caused us to lose power. We already lost out on an hour’s worth of profits; we can’t also give everyone free drinks.”

Customer #2: “That’s just bad service. I’m going somewhere else.”

Me: “This whole strip lost power and they also use ovens and register systems, so you’ll probably wait wherever you go.”

(He ignores me and leaves while I’m mid-sentence. I begin informing another man that we aren’t ready and he ignores me and walks into the store. My manager sees me struggling to get his attention and pipes up.)

Manager: “Sir, we aren’t ready to serve customers yet. We’ll be ready in about four or five minutes at this point. You’re welcome to sit down while you wait.”

(The customer doesn’t hear my manager’s bellowing voice and walks up to where you order. Several employees are giggling. More customers walk in, ignoring me, because they see the man in line. My manager and I both try to get each person’s attention and inform them that we’re not ready.)

Customer #3: “Well, I’m just going to stand in line so I can order as soon as you’re ready!”

Me: “I… guess you can do that.” *to my manager* “Can he stand in line and wait until we’re ready?”

Manager: “No… no, I would prefer that we have the customers who are waiting sit down until we’re ready.”

Customer #3: “That’s ridiculous; you can’t stop me from standing here!”

Manager: “I guess you’re right, sir, but once our ovens are ready, we will be geared and ready and regardless of where you’re standing in line, we’ll be able to get your food to you quickly. When you stand in line, though, more people will come in who won’t realize we aren’t ready to start serving them.”

(I was continuing to try and stop people from coming in. With customers ignoring me and piling into the store, we were mobbed before we could even start serving. The oven was finally up to temp and we started serving the customers. I worked at the cash registers and people constantly asked for free things for their “inconvenience.” As quickly as the situation escalated, it was over. The line was empty in ten minutes, the dining room packed, and normalcy restored… at least a little bit.)

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