Monday, October 31, 2005

customer disservice

so after shopping my friend and i wanted to eat. neither of us had eaten yet that day and she, being pregnant, wanted real food, so we went to ____ to get linner (as it was late afternoon). we walked in and stood in the foyer. this is one of those eat in/salad bar/sit at a booth/pay at the register establishments. in the foyer, there is a cashier and a hostess podium. while waiting to be seated as the sign requested, we talked about the lack of commercial development in our old neighborhood and whether or not there was some c-o-n-spiracy scheme to disenfranchise the area or if it was just a case of individual investors being afraid to chance their investments on our beloved but very much maligned 'hood.

somewhere in the course of this conversation, which lasted maybe about 5-10 minutes, i noticed that we had been entertaining ourselves for quite some time, even though there was a hostess standing at the podium. there were at least three employees in the foyer as well. and not one of these people acknowledged our presence, advised us of any wait, or offered to seat us. i turn to my friend and say, uneventfully, "i'm ready to leave now." my friend agrees. we left, grumbling about bad service. we didn't contact the manager or admonish the employees. why bother? we wouldn't have been telling them anything they didn't already know, and we didn't feel like being angry black women. we just wanted to eat.

why it had to be all that?

so in the car, we thought about a place where we could get the same fare without having to tour all of God's creation. we simultaneously (we are fraternal twins separated at birth - we have to be!) suggested the _____. the _____ is a diner in our own city. i like patronizing the diner because it's been a staple of the community for years - a popular breakfast and after-church spot. i have spent many a sunday morning gobbling home fries with my parents there. the place holds memories. i jokingly said to my friend, "at the very least, they'll seat us, cause they have to get us out of the doorway." many 50's style new jersey diners don't have foyers - you have to seat people right when they get to the door, or they'll be blocking the door.

lucky for us, the place wasn't crowded. we walked in and the cashier/host was on his mobile phone. he asked us smoking or non and seated us immediately. how nice! except he was on the phone the whole time. it smacked both of us the wrong way, but whatever. at least we were seated.

... "at least" being the operative words. my friend and i sat and chatted for maybe 5 or 10 minutes, again, about stuff - i don't know what... and then it dawned on me that we had no waitress greet us or bring us water glasses or take our drink orders or even holler to say she'd be with us in a sec. which may have been excusable, if the place was swamped. i would say there was one dude at the counter, and maybe four other parties in the whole place. and i know there were at least four waitresses that we saw walking around during these 5 or 10 minutes. and we knew this because we were seated by one of those stations where they keep the flatware and ketchup and syrup and stuff, and waitresses were coming directly past us to get to these things during these water-less, attention-less 5 or 10 minutes.

when you're hungry, 5 or 10 minutes is a long time.

when you've already left one place for bad service, leaving the second choice is not easy.

i gave my friend a look. she knew what it meant. i asked her if we should go. she said that we would just have to eat immediately (as in fast food, which she didn't want) at the next place. i soooo did not want to have to leave in search of another place to eat. i started counting softly and slowly from ten to one.

somewhere around three, one waitress turned to another and signals her to cover our table. i hesitate on two. this heifer (sorry to malign you cows) walked in the opposite direction from us. *sigh* i kept counting. even slower than last time. finally, on one, not one but two waitresses come with smiles and eagerness to serve. mm hmm. after which point the original heifer who walked in the other direction asked us if we were being served. the rest of the meal passed uneventfully and we enjoyed our food and conversation and even stayed a lil while after the meal to talk. but we cut a dollar out of her tip.

all i'm sayin is, why it had to be all that? and why come the last two times i went to wa.l-mar.t i had to leave my stuff in line without purchasing it because something just didn't sit right with me about having 21 registers and opening only 3 of them on a doggone weekend, while staff members mill around the drawls or beef jerky somewhere talking? why can't i ever get someone at the phone company to address my problem without having to endure several transfers and having to explain the reason i'm calling several times?

okay. vent over. such is life. i'm cool. til the next time some bovine excrement goes down.