Sunday, November 20, 2005

There's a Hair in The Soup

After 20 years in the business, I thought I'd seen it all. In fact, I was certain that nothing a customer could do would surprise me ever again. I was wrong. I was actually astounded on Saturday night.
The last home football game of the season is always between two arch rivals and is the biggest homegame of the year. The customers began flooding in and it didn't slow down. The hostesses used a "wait list" for over 2 1/2 hours and the manager finally cut the floor around 9:30 p.m. I took the first new table in my section and was delivering their salads when the surprising incident occurred.
On the other side of the diningroom, our manager was talking with a customer, a man about 45 years old. The man's wife and young son listened in on their conversation. The man suddenly stood up, his wife reached out to stop him, and our manager stepped back. The guy turned toward the other tables, and in a very loud voice, began an obnoxious and embarassing speech.
"I want you all to know that I just had dinner with my family," he began, "and
I found a long blonde hair in my food." He gestures with his hands to show the length of the hair he found. "I'm not the type to complain but..."
Before I go any further, I have to fill in a few relevant details. First, their server is definitely not a blonde. In fact, not one of the waitstaff working that night was a blonde. Our entire kitchen is "latino". They sport flat-top fade brush cuts, hidden beneath bandana's and turned back ball caps. The man's wife, however, did have blonde hair that reached the middle of her back. His son was rolling his eyes as his dad went on.
"I really feel that my entire bill should be free," he announced. "And this guy
only wants to take my dinner off the bill. This is the worst example of customer
service I've ever seen and this manager is incompetent." He flashes a glance at the
boss. "I have about 350 friends and business associates that I'm going to tell about
this and none of them will ever come here again."
When he first began his speech, a few people leaned out of the booths, curious to see what was going on. Between the background music and the normal diningroom
din, most could not hear what he was saying and thought that he was announcing a
birthday. They quickly rejoined their conversations and paid no attention to this guy. Fortunately, the two closest tables were "regulars", affectionately nicknamed "The Horse People" because they run a horse breeding and boarding farm a few miles outside of town. One of "The Horse People" retorted, "I eat here all the time! The food is always great and the service is excellent!" From the corner, another regular customer chimes in, "Cut him off!"
"Enjoy your hair food!" the man bellows as he finally surrenders his debit card to the manager. The family mills around the table while being cashed out and both the wife and son are trying to hide their faces. He signs the receipt and is escorted to the door.
As the table is being cleared, I notice that they've left three carryout boxes on the table. I quickly collect them and put them in a bag. I walk up to "The Horse People" and ask if they still have Wilbur, a pig they've been growing out for sometime now. "We sure do!", the lady responds. I present her with the bag of food, telling her that Wilbur's dinner is "on the house" tonight. Waste not, want not.