To Serve and Protect My Sanity

Working in the service industry is always interesting. Although I’ve had more than a decade of experience in the service industry, I don’t think there is a single day that doesn’t present some humorous or frustrating experience related to a customer. Some days you can take it all in stride with a smile on your face, while other days are more about biting your tongue and mentally banging your head against the wall. The reality though is that most days are a combination of the two.

Saturdays are one of my favourite work days in my week, and yet they often tend to be the most challenging. While the following isn’t all from today, here is a glimpse into my work world.

The company I work for has been around for more than 50 years and our competitors have been around just as long, if not longer; however, many of our customers seem to think that we have invented so many things. Jalapeno, chipotle, panini, and chamomile are all words that defy pronunciation. Of course, we invented those products, so we shouldn’t be surprised that our customers do not have the foggiest idea how to pronounce them!

Our company has also invented combos! It really is quite difficult to understand how a combo works, I know. We are the only quick service food establishment to offer such a thing as a combo. For the record, a combo gives you a slight discount when purchasing a beverage, a main course, and a side item. In our case, the price on the menu follows the standard of a medium sized coffee and a donut for the side. Substitutions are allowed, but you will pay the difference in price if your choice costs more than the standard. You do still get the discount however. Seems like a simple concept, right? Fast food places have had combos for eons, but our customers seem to have walked through our doors straight from the dark ages.

Today I learned that one of our customers is a vegan. I don’t particularly care that he is a vegan. Quite honestly, I just don’t understand the whole idea of being a vegan, but then again, I love meat! How did I learn that this customer is vegan? He told us. He had already ordered his coffees, which included cream (how is that vegan?), and was wanting a couple of muffins; however, he said he had to be careful in selecting a muffin because he was vegan. Alrighty then! You’ll take cream in your coffee, but you can’t have a muffin containing Greek yogurt because you’re vegan…got it!

The other day we served a woman who was unwilling to break a $5 bill but was short 85 cents for her purchase of a dozen donuts plus another and two cookies. She had a winning tab for a free donut and asked to have the tab back so she could sell it for 85 cents to someone waiting in line. This customer was quite obviously strung out on something. We managed to convince her to take off one of the cookies, since she was adamant that she would not use her $5 bill and we weren’t going to let her try to pawn off her winning tab for money. She then went awkwardly on her way trying to balance a large box of donuts while pushing a BMX bike that seemed much too small for her.

This afternoon, a customer completely ignored the drive-thru order speaker and proceeded directly to the window. She knew full well that she hadn’t stopped to place her order first and seemed to think that it really wasn’t an important detail since there hadn’t been anyone else in line.

As much as possible, I try to pass out the pinpad for customers who are paying with a debit or credit card. The other day a customer pulled up with a card tightly clasped in his hand close to his chest. I turned to grab the pinpan and turned back to pass it out the window only to see the customer put that card back into his wallet and pull out another one. Why?

This morning I put my hand out the window to give a customer her change, an entire nickel but still her change. She initially put her out and I positioned my hand above her open palm to drop the nickel into it…she suddenly realized what I was doing and pulled her hand away as if I was dropping a bucket of dog poop on her hand. The nickel fell to the ground. Seriously? What did you think I was going to give you?

Thankfully, for as many customers that are troublesome and annoying, we also have many who are a pleasure to serve…and that is what makes my job enjoyable.



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