where have all the good people gone

I have a natural customer service heart. I want to make people feel welcome and comfortable. If you’re in my home, I attempt to anticipate your needs and stock anything you might want, and offer it before you ask. It’s how I’m wired.

I worked as a hostess at a delicious BBQ restaurant for a while. It was easy for me to welcome guests and offer them information to make them feel at home. I’m not saying I never made mistakes, as the kitchen manager would love to point out, but hey, I’m human.Recently something snapped within me.

I’ve become intolerant of gross dining experiences. When we choose to go out, I want my money to be well spent; not only on good eats, but on an overall good experience. Twice this week alone, I’m questioning my desire to go out to eat at all. It’s safer at home. Groceries cost less, and at least I can only be disappointed by my own cooking. I’m used to that.

On Tuesday I was working late, and it was the only night that we’d all be home at the same time. I thought it would be a great idea to grab some Mexican food. One restaurant was running an ad for Taco Tuesday on the radio. Perfect, food we love for a discount? Let’s go! To preface, we had tried this restaurant a year previous and were horribly dissatisfied with our experience. But, I thought, they were new back then. Surely they’ve figured it out by now.Bad assumption.

We were seated quickly, though the restaurant was busy. Food was being delivered to tables that looked scrumptious, as we were all hungry. We got our drinks and complimentary chips and salsa slowly, but fast enough considering the full room. It took a while to order, which was also forgiven. But then… We were assured our food was coming shortly a couple of times by our server. Then, such reassurances ceased.

Our drinks were dry and our chips and salsa long gone. My 13 went to the bathroom, stating that that’s usually the hex to make the food appear. My husband went to the bathroom. Then I was going to go. As I was standing, the server overheard me say “this is ridiculous.” It had been one hour since we sat down. Only then did she apologize and explain that the kitchen was down a cook.

Frankly, that information with a round of refreshed drinks and more chips and salsa 30 minutes prior, would have done the trick to keep us pacified. I understand short staffed. I can rationalize it and allow for it. But just let me know.By the time our food arrived the restaurant had cleared out. We were given 10% off of our bill. Which is a kind gesture. But I still left feeling as though money had been wasted. We could have gone to another Mexican restaurant in town three times over in the amount of time we spent at this place. Two strikes, no reason to make it three. This restaurant is out.

So, Tuesday evening I decided that it would be carry out only for a while. Wednesday evening my 13 had a track meet an hour away. As I drove out to it, I noticed a BBQ place on the way. I thought to myself that we would hit that on the way back. By the time we were heading back, it was nearly closing time for the restaurant. I had 13 call in an order for us.

1. Pulled pork sandwich with a side salad with ranch.

2. Brisket and blue cheese salad with ranch dressing.

When we walked into the little restaurant there was a server talking to her friends at a table and three people behind a little counter. Nobody said anything to us, and I stood there awkwardly. Finally I approached the counter and shrugged my shoulders with a questioning look in my eyes. The young girl behind the counter seemed a little put out that I didn’t know the drill and asked if I would be dining in. I let her know about our carry out order and offered to pay for it.When our order came out, I noticed blue cheese dressing with my salad. I mentioned that I had requested ranch. She said, “this is what comes with the salad.” Okay. She didn’t offer any utensils. And it wasn’t until we were in the car driving away that I realized she didn’t offer any BBQ sauce for my son’s sandwich, which he said was difficult to swallow.

So I ask, where has customer service gone? Will we be stuck with this blasé service until the next generation comes through? Is customer service teachable? Until I can figure it out, I’ll be at home. Eating pizza and my own bad cooking. But at least I won’t be disappointed.

I love words. My head swirls with words. I have many deep thoughts. Some thoughts plague me. In order to release them, I have to assign words. Once the words are strung together, I feel free again.

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