After a week of vacation I’m back and I wish I could say I was fresh and new and ready to work but I was more like the forgotten Kaiser roll tucked back in the corner of the bread shelf on the cook’s line…stale. I’m still catching up on the sleep I missed, and I’m pretty sure I’m still hungover from the screwdrivers I had on the plane they say that altitude brings on one hell of a good buzz. Then again, that was two days ago, so maybe I’m just tired.
One of my customers says he got this sandwich one time, with pastrami. This is particularly funny because we have at least five of those on our menu. He had it on a roll but he doesn’t remember what sandwich it was he just remembers that it cost 15.95. And I write and edit the menus here so I have a pretty good mental inventory of costs and items but he even has me stumped.
“Sounds like this one,” I say, pointing to the menu. It’s pastrami, comes on a roll, served with fries.
“No, that’s not it.”
Well the only problem is that just about every damned hot sandwich costs 15.95 and I tell him as much and he points to the menu and says, “No, this one doesn’t. It costs 16.95.”
And all I’m thinking is okay, you found the one sandwich that costs a dollar more and we’re really not getting anywhere here and why is it that people are so inclined to pick arguments. I know the customer is always right and I get that but he started it and sure, I sound like a four year old here, but I regress into a total state of infancy when I’m tired I can’t help it.
“The only other one we have is a dip, it comes with the Au Jus on the side.”
“Oh yeah, that’s it. It came with the sauce.”
And seriously had he just said that from the start none of this conversation had to happen. But God forbid a customer actually read the menu I mean, seriously, you guys, read the menu. We wrote them for you.
And the lady at the next table over orders the sandwich with turkey and gravy and I point to it.
“This one?”
She says no, she wants the one with cranberry.
“Yeah, it comes with that.”
And she looks terribly pleased which is a weird reaction to cranberry sauce but it’s chill, we all have our quirks.
“What else does it come with?”
I point to the menu. “Everything on it is right here…turkey, mashed pota–”
“Well no, actually, everything on it isn’t right there because it didn’t say cranberry sauce.”
And I stand there silently. Literally in pure silence there are no words coming out of my mouth I couldn’t form any even if I tried.
“Listen,” she says, “I didn’t come here to argue with you.”
And I’m thinking that’s really weird because it sure seems like you did. Anyone observing this conversation would sure as hell think you were trying to pick a fight with me and it’s a fight you know I’m going to lose because I’m always wrong and you’re always right. It’s the law of the service industry.
To be perfectly honest, I’m trying to feed you. I’m trying to feed all of you and get you exactly what you want, exactly how you want it. But I will never be capable of understanding why the hell you have to make something as simple as ordering food so damned complicated.
Again, I edit the menus. I spend hours pouring over them with highlighters and my obsessive compulsive collection of color coded pens and short hand notes and I do it, not for fun, but so that you, the customer, can read them.
But if there’s anything I know for certain, it’s that the next edition of the menu we print is going to have the words CRANBERRY SAUCE printed in italicized, bold font, three sizes larger than the rest of the description. Because I may not like arguing, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not petty as fuck.
Anything else I can get for you? No? Thank you, and please come again.
Or don’t. It’s all the same to me.