1/29/11

What is it about snow that seems to turn people into horrible, angry misers? It seems like the second there are snowflakes in the air, or on the ground, my customers fall immediately into two groups. Group A is comprised of the people who realize that yes, it's winter. Snow is going to happen. So what? It's the price you pay for living where you do. At least you get advanced warning. These are generally nice, understanding people.
Group B is made up of everyone else. These are the people who don't know how to handle their kids during a snow day, or who should probably be living somewhere tropical. They are constantly in a bad mood, and nothing anyone says or does will fix it.
There are a few rare cases that fall gracefully between the two, but they are not significant.

Wednesday night we got SNOW. Now, I hesitate to put that in capital letters because it was only about eight inches, and we've known it was coming for at least a week. But it turned into a huge disaster because no one believes the weather reports ever for some reason. Thursday, I ended up covering for the opening server (had to stay home with her kids for the snow day) and I worked from open (11 A.M.) to the normal pre-close shift, 9 P.M. That's a long day to be serving. And we got mobbed. The day wasn't so bad, since everyone was still digging out their driveways and getting themselves free. But round about 3:30, calls started to pour in for delivery and carry out. The dining room got hit about an hour later. And we were just busy. There was nothing to do but work, and we did. And we ran out of almost everything. The only reason I got to leave at 9 was because what else was there to do? We had medium thin crusts and large handtossed in limited supply. I did my sidework and left with a wad of tips that marked the day as thoroughly not worth my time.
Friday was more of the same, but since the truck got delayed by snow and we didn't get our regular shipment until today, we just ran out of things permanently. No wings, sorry. Oh, thin crust? I'm sorry, we're out. I hate to say this, but we're out of garlic bread. Would you like me to substitute two bread sticks to go with your pasta instead? Oh, uh... my manager just informed me that we actually just ran out of bread sticks...
Now, here are two examples of typical customer behavior. See if you can guess who belongs to which category of friendliness?

There were fifteen separate tables in the dining room at once, and that's almost full for us. Poor ServerK and I were the only waitresses, and we had to also split our time with the front counter and the phones. Before we sat our customers, we informed them that due to overwhelming business, even dine-in customers would be waiting from 45 minutes up to an hour from the time they place their orders for their food to come out. The ones who were okay with that we sat down and tried to take care of them to the best of our abilities. Some were nice, others were short-tempered. We dealt. A woman who had been waiting for her pizza (and updated on its status as often as was reasonably possible) came to the front counter, demanding the phone number for our corporate office. She'd been waiting 40 minutes, and where was her food? We're terribly sorry, but we've got twenty orders ahead of yours, and it's about to go into the oven. After that, it will be about twelve more minutes. That's just too long, this is ridiculous. Obviously we'd made some grievous error in judgment making our schedule, and we should have known we'd be this busy on a Thursday night. She is never coming back here again. And with that, she stormed out.

Friday night, I'm CSRing. The phones have been ringing off the hooks for three hours, and we're out of almost everything at this point. I get off the phone with an upset but reasonable customer, and stare down at the lines. "Who's on hold?" I ask. No one seems to know who or why they are on hold, but the newest girl who was running around helping everyone and training on the fly said she'd put the gentleman on hold about twenty minutes ago. I sighed, and picked up the line, expecting it to be dropped. "Thank you for waiting, this is Kate. How can I help you tonight?" The man on the other end paused for a second before I heard a long drawn-out "Wow... You guys must be busy!" I explained that we were experiencing more business than we were really staffed for, but we were trying our best and I was terribly sorry about him being on hold for so long. He said it was all right, he just wanted to order some pasta and a large pizza. I informed him that the wait for carryout orders was currently an hour, and that while we were out of large pan pizzas, I would gladly get the cooks to make two mediums for the same price (we will compromise for the customers who at least try to be civil to us). He said no, it was okay. He'd take one medium instead, two would be too much food. I quoted his order and his time, and as I thanked him, he thanked me instead and wished me good luck with the rush.

So that was a summary of my Thursday and Friday nights. Unfortunately for my faith in the goodness inherent in humanity, most of my customers fell into Group B. But the ones that qualified for A made the nights slightly more bearable, and I appreciate them constantly for it. I usually love snow, and generally speaking, I still do. I like hearing it hiss slowly to the ground, I like the sound-dampening effect it has. I enjoy running around in it with Kobold until we're both soaked and panting and ready to curl up on the couch under a blanket and watch TV. There is a child that dwells in my heart that giggles and brightens up a bit when it snows.
And then the adult that remembers she has to go to work and deal with Group B stomps on the child's hopes and dreams.

Today, Patrick and I took Kobold over to my parents' house and we ran around their back yard for about an hour. Because he's genetically designed to withstand cold and harsh weather (and probably because of his puppy personality) Kobold loves the snow. The best thing you can do with him is to make up big, loose snowballs and then throw them at him. He catches the snow, and then eats it. I was picking up sheets of snow from the picnic table and gently tossing them straight into his face and Kobold kept coming back for more, the wacko. We ran him around until the pristine snow in the yard was churned up all over and we were getting cold and wet. We traipsed back home, changed, relaxed for a little bit and then brought him out again, this time to the pet store.
Dog grooming is expensive, did you know that? It's worth it, though. Kobold goes to Petsmart every few weeks to get a bath, a trim, general maintenance (teeth, ears, paws, claws) and something they call the FURminator Shed-less treatment. This involves mysterious potions, sharp combs, a blood sacrifice to the god of fallen dog hair, and about thirty more dollars on the bill. The plus side to this is that Kobold genuinely does shed much less fur, and his hair becomes silky and smooth. The down side is that he comes home smelling like that fake vanilla sugar cookie scent, you know the one? It'll wear off soon, though, at least.

Here's hoping your weekend ends well, and with all the fun and joy a kid with a snow day can possibly muster.


恋 は ゲえム じゃない けど 勝負 を 賭けて.
Let's make love tonight!
~Honey Bee "No Rock No Life"

Love isn't a game, but a victory you gamble on.
Let's make love tonight!

2 comments:

Donna Lee said...

I'm sorry/glad you get to see the best/worst of people when you work in any customer service sort of job. It makes you look at your own behavior when you're out in the world. I find that I am nicer to people when under stress because they need it more then.

Good luck this week, another storm is headed our way.

Oh, and yes, we could see the churned up snow all over the yard. It looks like the grandpuppy had a good time.

Roxie said...

You guys must usually do a phenomenal job if the occasional snow day surprises your customers so much. I mean, if you were generally flakes and goof-offs, running out of things and getting orders wrong all the time, they would just look at the hardship of snow days as more of the same. But they are appalled and dismayed when you aren't perfect! It is so rare that you are not in control of all circumstances that they just don't know how to deal with it when nature smacks you down.

Remember dear, they are not mad at you. They are mad at the snow and the upset to their precious well-honed expectations. You just happen to be close enough to grump at. They'll probably go home and kick the dog, too.