Can I Fake Your Order Please?

It’s not very often that I start off a story with an “understanding”, but I figure it’s the nicest way to get into today’s topic, so here we go:

I understand that at some point in time, everyone who has a job doing anything is going to have a bad day.  Let’s not even take it that far…let’s say everyone who has a job is going make a mistake every once in a while.  It’s human nature, life will continue, in the grand scheme of things it happens, you acknowledge, you move on.  It’s NOT a big deal.

HOWEVER, when the same mistake happens six times in a row, you can be forgiven if you don’t feel a little frustrated by the situation.

Talk to anyone who’s ever ordered from a drive thru and they’ll tell you they’ve had some kind of issue with their order at least once before.  Sometimes it’s a little thing, but then again, is it ever a little thing?  To quote a friend of mine, frankly “It’s ALL that you DO.” And again, this isn’t really a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but when you want to get something specific, and you order something specific, you WANT that specific thing.  And like the straw that broke the camel’s back, an accumulation of incorrect orders can put you to a spot where that ONE little thing finally sends you over the edge.

There’s a certain place that myself and the Sig-O frequent because it’s A) Conveniently located and…well, no, that’s probably the only reason we go there.  It’s right off the highway, it’s right by where we go to pick up supplies, and it’s “quick”.  So why wouldn’t we swing by when we need a bite after hours of work and shopping?  It’s quick, easy, “tasty”, and it’s exactly what we want.  Otherwise we wouldn’t go there.  Why keep putting up with getting the wrong stuff?

I can’t even remember the first thing that “went wrong”, I think it was the wrong topping on a salad…still a tasty salad, but not what we asked for.  I DO remember the next time, because something was completely left out: an order of fries.  Which isn’t really a huge deal, unless you figure that there were only two orders, BOTH with fries.  Easy enough, pull the car over, bring the bag in with the receipt and get what’s missing.  And I remember walking in thinking “Hey, this is twice in a row isn’t it?”  Thankfully it was easy, walk up to the counter, discuss, get fries, leave.  So that’s two.

The third time was a bigger one:  They screwed up the sandwich.  “They probably just grabbed the wrong one” I muttered as I parked, walked, waited and exchanged.  Again, no issues.  Time #4 was no peanuts for the sundae that we specifically asked for so we’d get some.  Time #5 was missing fries AGAIN.  What was that quote?  Right, “It’s the ONLY thing you DO.”  None of these things by themselves was anything to get overly upset about, but combined?  That’s a lot of straws.  Can we handle one more?

The sixth and final time was the same as the first:  The salad wasn’t right.  It’s a SMALL thing…when you ordered this particular salad there was a specific crunchy topping that you’re supposed to get with it, and we’d been given the wrong one.  Read that last sentence all by itself, with no other history, and you think “Everyone makes mistakes!” and get on with your life.  When it’s the sixth time in a row that they’ve gotten it wrong…”IT’S THE ONLY THING YOU DO…”

Out of the car, walking at a slightly brisk pace with a somewhat incredulous face, I opened the door, one fist curled around the top of the bag, the other daintly holding the offending topping like a diaper headed for the garbage.  Walking to the front of the counter, I waited.

And waited.  And waited a little more.

This wouldn’t have been a big deal if it had been busy.  Or if it wasn’t busy, but every available staff member was occupied with a customer.  The problem was, of course, that neither of those things were true.  It looked a little more like this:

Save for one person being helped at the counter, it was empty.  There were some people in the drive thru I’m sure, just like I had just been.  But I waited anyway, as I watched some workers walk from one side of the counter to the other, and refuse to look up at me.  “Maybe they’re busy” I thought to myself, “probably not on counter duty.”  Or something.  I mean, they can’t be that incompetent, can they?  After THREE minutes of waiting, a younger employee who looked fairly busy made eye contact, stopped what he was doing and asked “Can I help you?”  How to respond…angry?  Frustrated?  Put out?  Having worked in retail in my younger years I defaulted to “Let’s give this person who has NO IDEA of my past history here the benefit of the doubt and see what happens.”

“Hi, I’m sorry,” I cooed calmly, “we ordered a salad that’s supposed to come with THAT topping and we got this one instead…can I switch it for the right one?”  I had pointed at the giant display directly overhead, containing images of both the salad and the topping with which it came.  Looking somewhat frazzled and confused, the employee reached out for the offending garnish in my hand, took it, and said “Sorry about that, let me find it for you.” And he disappeared into the back for a few seconds. Then 30 seconds.  Then a minute.

Then THREE minutes.  That last straw was about 2 inches above my back, hovering, taunting me…”Screw up ONE more time. DO IT.  I DARE YOU…”

FINALLY he reappeared, holding the topping I desired.  Once again, “Sorry about that” and I was on my way.  I believe I turned on my heel, took one step, and halfway through my second step I looked down at my hand, and paused.  No way.

He had handed me the EXACT.  SAME.  THING.  BACK.

Let’s recap:  This is the sixth time IN A ROW that this establishment has incorrectly delivered my order.  It’s the sixth time I’ve had to pull my car over after the supposed convenience of not going to have to go inside, waited in line for service, then finally gotten what I originally wanted.  THIS particular time I’ve gone through all of those steps, waited AGAIN, and then gotten the ABSOLUTE EXACT SAME OFFENDING ITEM I CAME IN TO CORRECT.  How would all of this make YOU feel?

We’ve all had moments of extreme pride that go without recognition.  A time we can look back on and say “I did that awesome thing and they don’t even KNOW how awesome it was.  And I’m OK with that.”  Without any exaggeration, hesitation, or delusion, I can say with confidence that the next 30 seconds were THAT moment for me.

Deliberately walking slowly back to the counter to control my inner rage, I did let a “HEY” slip out as I tried to get his attention again.  He turned around, looking confusing at the guy he had just saved the day for, and nodded his head in acknowledgement.  “I’m sorry,” (ME APOLOGIZING FOR INCONVENIENCING HIM?), “, but you gave me the same thing I brought in…it’s SUPPOSED to come with ______________ instead…”

“Oh, man, I’m SO SORRY, I’ll get someone to help you.”

So obviously this kid had disappeared into the back, had NO idea what I was talking about, couldn’t find it, panicked, stood in the back trying to figure out what to do, and then just come out with the original thing I gave him and hoped I didn’t notice.  That seems to be the most logical explaination.  But now he was going to get it done…he grabbed someone who looked a little more senior than himself, quickly explained what was going on, that new person reached under the counter right in front of me, passed me the correct topping and I was on my way.

I don’t remember how I got back to the car…maybe it was with a trail of fire behind me, but back in the car, I was asked a simple question:  What took so long?  And I answered calmly and simply: He was just having a bad day.



P.S. Since that last offence, we have returned to the same location multiple times, with NO issues with our orders.  I’m sure now that I’ve written about it, the universe will call it even, and it’ll go back to the way it was.  We’ll see universe…we’ll see…



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