I try to be a nice person most of the time. Sometimes I try to be a snarky person if I feel like someone is purposefully messing up my day. But most times, I try to smile and respond politely. I say hello and thank you to the bus drivers and the building manager in the morning. I include “please” in my requests for food, drinks, or cookies, especially if I want something changed or added. Most of the time, I even brush off mistakes when the wrong food arrives at the table (although, depending on how the server handles it, I may mutter annoyances once he leaves).
But sometimes you encounter baffling customer service that makes you want to storm out, or leave a penny tip, or just never go back.
Baffling Experience #1.
I’ve been working downtown for a little more than six months now, and I’m slowly expanding my lunchtime territory boundaries. East Village is a bit too far, Papa Luna’s empanadas are a bit too close. For some reason, I’m willing to travel south but walking north seems like quite a trek. I spend a lot of time at Tender Greens. Once I accepted the fact the salads are (typically) good for you and that I don’t like making salad for lunch or eating salad I make, once I came to accept that paying someone to make me a salad I’ll actually want to eat is okay, I find myself eating a salad (or meat+veggies) at Tender Greens on a near-weekly basis. Often enough that the girl who takes your order at the front of the line recognizes me. Maybe not often enough that the girl at the end of the line (but not the cashier) realizes that I will now be thinking snarky thoughts every time I see her (and that I think of her as a Mean Girl).
Sometimes I call in an order and just pick it up, since the line can easily snake out the door and down the street even outside the standard “lunch hour”. Sometimes I’ll stand in line and order food “to go”, so that I can get a walk in but still manage to squeeze in a little work at my desk while inevitable dropping a dressing-coated leaf on my notes. And, sometimes, I just take an hour and eat there, people watching and flipping through my phone. I usually get water, in a real glass, but when I get something other than water, I like to get it in a to-go cup. The to-go cups are larger than the glasses, which means I start with more and I don’t have to go up to ask for a to-go cup when I’m ready to head back to work. I tell you think to properly set up what happened to me last week.
So, I ordered my food, which was probably something on a plate with roasted veggies instead of salad because the mashed potatoes are delicious and veggies > just salad. And I ordered my plate “for here”. I got all the way down to the end of the line and asked for agua fresca “to go”. My food wasn’t ready by the time the assembly line of trays was set up, so I stood to the side to wait. Mean Girl had a “to go” bag on a tray, along with a to-go cup of water. She held up the water and asked if I wanted the water “to go” and I shook my head and said I had asked for agua fresca (because I had; that’s what I ordered). So, my to-go cup of agua fresca sat on a tray all by itself, while I watched salad after salad go by. I saw a plate go by, then there was talking behind the counter, and I watched the plate leave and come back as a plastic container. I figured someone else was picking up their to-go order of food. Eventually, this container was placed into a bag and handed to me with the agua fresca. I guess I could have just taken it and eaten it out of the container (but the potatoes were in a cup and I don’t like cutting food in plastic containers when it’s so much easier on a plate) but instead I let the girl handing me the bag know I had actually asked for my food for here. Now, this girl was nice, smiled and apologized and offered to plate it. I guess she whispered to the Mean Girl what she was doing, because she put my order ticket on the tray.
And then I watched Mean Girl roll her eyes, say “Seriously?!?”, huff a big sigh, crumple up my ticket and throw it away and pout. As I was standing right there, maybe 2 steps to her left, across the counter.
Here’s what I think happened: I think my plate made it all the way to the tray-assembly-line and someone got confused between my “for here” plate and “to-go” cup (even though people get water to go all the time) and someone (maybe Mean Girl) sent my plate back to get packaged in a to-go container. Then, when I got it and asked for it “for here”, that meant it had to go back AGAIN to be put onto a plate, like it had been the first time which obviously caused Mean Girl much grief and frustration. Which still doesn’t excuse bratty behavior when you’re directly in front of your customers.
The sad part is, I’m not even willing to no longer spend my money at Tender Greens, even though I know Mean Girl is going to be there all the time. It’s not really an example of how poor customer service loses you customers, because they obviously didn’t lose me. I guess I just wanted to tell someone how a Mean Girl was mean to me and no one even offered me a free cookie.