Sunday, August 26, 2007

Mean People

I run into mean people at times but this week, I had three in two days. Now that is not a thing I enjoy.

On Friday, a lady came in and ordered the all you can eat salad bar. It was a little early and the lettuce was not on the salad bar yet. She complained to the waitress who quickly got the lettuce in it's place and gave the lady another plate to put it on. The lady decided not to but as she left, grabbed a to go container and began filling it with items off of the salad bar. Judy told her that was not allowed and that all you can eat means all you can eat while you are here. She ignored her and continued to fill up her container. She was just about to leave when I was called. I stopped her as she closed her container and stated the same thing that Judy had. She complained bitterly about their not being any lettuce on the salad bar. I told her that I understood and that I would allow her to take it this time since she already had it but in the future, it would not be allowed. Her son came along and grabbed the container out of her hand and gave it to me. He said that they did not want anything from me and that they would not be coming back. I shrugged my shoulders and walked away. As I threw the container in the trash, I noticed that it had NO lettuce in it. Her complaint was that she could not get lettuce but when she filled up her container, it was with everything but lettuce. Minutes later, I was called up to the cashier to the same lady. She was demanding a refund for no lettuce. I smiled and told her no and this time her daughter was the angry one and they told me off and left. We have a group of retired doctors who come in and drink coffee who watched it all with interest. "Why didn't you tell her to get the hell out and not come back!", one of them joked. "I cant do that", I answered, "I wont do that.....but maybe Judy will.". They all laughed and I felt better about the situation. As I walked back into the waitress area, they all thanked me for handling the situation. It seems that no one likes to wait on these customers since that run them ragged, often complain and ask for discounts, and very rarely tip.

The very next morning, some ladies were in. One of them ordered an omelet with Swiss cheese in it. We buy our Swiss pre-sliced and they put paper in between the slices. Sometimes it is hard to see as it is the same color as the cheese. The cook overlooked it and did not take the paper off or as sometimes happens there were two slices of paper. Whatever happened, the lady had the paper in her omelet and complained to the waitress. The waitress offered to make her another omelet and she agreed. Upon returning with the omelet, the lady refused it and said that she had now lost her appetite at which time I was brought into the problem. I listened and then explained to the ladies what the paper was and that it was completely sterile or it would not have been on the cheese. I told her that I understood but she had requested that they redo the omelet and we had done so. For that, I was going to have to charge. If she had refused the omelet in the first place, I would not have. I was called up to the cashier shortly and a younger lady at the table (assuming daughter or something) began to tell me what kind of total jerk that I had been and that my customer service skills were horrible and that I should have just left it to the waitress. I listened and told her that I was sorry that she took it that way and that it was not meant that way as she continued to berate me. She told me that it was obvious from how busy that we were that I cared less about her and she knew that her not coming back would not hurt us but that all of the bad things that she was going to tell others about us certainly would. I listened to all that she had to say as customers walked by and looked our way. She finally got angry, spun around, and went back to her table. As I started to leave, a man in the line looked at me and said, "I guess she told you!". "Yes", I grinned, "I guess she did!" "We love you, Lyle and our food was great!" "Jake's is great and we love it!" he explained. "Does that make you feel any better?" "Yes" I thanked him. The waitress came by later and thanked me. "For what?", I asked. "They said they felt sorry for me for having such a horrible boss and they tipped me $10." She happily explained.

Not minutes later, a man refused to show his ID to the cashier for his credit card so I was brought back up. "This is America, I don't have to show anything", He said. "This is Jake's and yes you do if you want to use a credit card.", I explained, "I am trying to protect you also, there has been far to much identity theft going on." He angrily threw down cash and stated that he would not return. I apologized and left the station. The cashier later told me that after I left, the man told her that his ID said something other than the name on the card but he had had no problem at other places with it.

The thoughts of a mean person is an interesting contemplation. Are they mean because they think they can get something in return for it? Or is it because they are insecure and this is a way they try to overcome the insecurity? Or do they think that others are just out to get them and they need to stick up for themselves? Or are they just arrogant and think that they are owed? Many possible reasons come to mind and that makes me feel sorry for them.

But for whatever reasons, I find myself getting less tolerant of mean people and am thinking of putting up a sign like I saw at Trade N Tools that states that a $5 service charge would be charged to all mean people. But maybe that would just make them meaner.


Jake said...

"a $5 service charge would be charged to all mean people. But maybe that would just make them meaner."

That may be, but at least you'll be $5 richer ;-)

Good stories. Thanks!

Keeneye said...

We're opening our first restaurant in one month, and reading your stories makes me cringe. You can't please all of the people.... yada yada yada. There are just some plain ol' meanies out there.

Maybe you should use the philosophy of "Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten" --

Tell the person, "You're being mean and rude, and it must be because you're having a bad day. Why don't you come back when you're in a better mood, and I'll buy you a giant cinnamon roll."

Be sure to say it with a smile, because killing them with kindness is the ultimate in retaliation.

diner life said...

A follow up on this one.

A mother of one of the girls in the swiss cheese group called me up yesterday. She began to chew me out for my horrible customer service and rude behaviour. She said that her daughter had just gotten off a missions trip and had come in with friends and that she was appalled by my behavior. The mother also said that her son would be coming back from Afganistan shortly and rather than their normal visit to Jake's, they would now be going elsewhere. She said that she would tell everyone that she knows and that my business would suffer from it. I tried to explain my side of the story but she would have none of it.

Judy came by as I talked and realizing what it was, she sat next to me and held my hand as I talked. She knows me well and knows how personal I take these kinds of situations.

It doesnt matter what I do on this one, I will be wrong. If I don't do anything, they will continue to try and persuade people how horrible a person that I am and if I try and buy them back, I have yielded to their anger and bitterness and they will still think me a jerk and will probably still tell their friends.

After the call, Judy assured me that she had watched me handle the situation on Saturday and that I was not rude and that if it made me feel any better, she agreed with my decison then and even moreso now.

Swiss cheese lady and family, if you read this, I forgive you of your anger and bitterness, I hope that you can forgive me of my inability to know how to handle this one.

Keeneye said...

Follow up to your follow up:

I love Judy.

There is truth in the saying that "You can't please all of the people, all of the time."