The Customer is Not Always the Wright Brothers

Having a customer base of two people is no way to make a living, even if they did invent the idea of flying in the air. Dream on, restaurentrepreneurs of America. 

But actually, this is about people who make substitutions. Yeah yeah yeah. I know you’ve heard about it before, but if you keep on reading, you’ll hear about it again. 

I posted this on facebook the other day, but I realized it was long enough for a blog – though maybe that’s a wacky stipulation. People generally look for things to read that are short as shit. Good luck getting that from me, people! I’M A FAST TYPER.

I get emotional when someone who regularly makes five weird substitutions to their breakfast order decides it’s time for them to switch it up and do something else. For starts, it was emotional for me in the first place, stumbling through their brain bleeding ticket, trying to figure out in just what ways they don’t want that thing you sell. And you wonder how many hours they spent at home, plotting, sitting in an arm chair, staring at the wall, thinking about how they’re going to get wild with ham tomorrow. 

Then secondly, I get emotional as I try to memorize the ticket and the name, so that next time it won’t take me an extra five minutes to craft their frankeneggwich together, and then myself, them, and the 10 customers behind them can all be happier.

BUT THEN – one day, they walk in, order a new set of substitutions, and it’s all over. They don’t do that crazy thing they invented one cocaine-fueled night. As much as I hated making it, now I feel like I let them down, or that maybe it never mattered in the first place, and they only did it to make me feel weird.

It feels like having a boyfriend turn to you one day and say “look, you’re great, but I want you to wear this clown suit.”
And you’re like “really, homie? That would suck for me.”
And he’s like “really. I mean, you’re just standing there, and here’s a clown suit, just put them together.”
So you do it because you can and why not, and you don’t want a bad yelp review, then after wearing it for months, one day he’s like “clown suit?! Not today! What was a big change for you was just a wacky whim for me! We’re on to penguin suits, sweetie!”

That’s how it feels. But it’s okay. I guess I just want you to be happy.

Just remember, the customer isn’t always right, but they are right there in front of you making unprecedented requests.

I want to stare into the eyes of every customer who makes insane substitutions and just ask Why. Why? What’s the reason behind it? I want to know why they only like one kind of lettuce. Do they LOVE that lettuce? Obviously enough to order a salad that way. I want to know why they ordered me to burn something for them. Why do they need peppers in their scrambled eggs? Did they know we don’t offer that? I want to walk through their ticket with them and ask every reason why I Am Robot, and why they made something up for me to perform for them.

It’s not to be mean. It’s just that, after years of this, I can’t stand the curiosity anymore. I’m forced to assume, and my assumptions are probably far weirder than the truth. 

The other day, someone needlessly subbed out muenster cheese for cheddar cheese in our breakfast burrito, which just seems like a silly thing to do. Muenster isn’t the weirdest choice. People have asked for parmesan cheese  before, for a delicious Italo-Tex Mex fusion breakfast. P.s. I didn’t do it. I said absolutely not, and babbled about moisture contents in cheeses for 20 seconds as to bore them to tears, and distract them from what they thought they wanted.

But muenster cheese just seemed so needless. They were from out of town and had never been to the restaurant before. I didn’t get it. Did the burrito even seem appealing to them? Why pick out a shirt from the rack, cut off one of the arms, and then pay for it? And as I trudged over to the reach-in on the other side of the restaurant to rustle up some muenster cheese, I assumed it must be because cheddar cheese killed her parents. That would be legit to me. You walk into a restaurant, wanting a nice experience and delicious food, see your parent’s killer makes an appearance on a menu item that, for some reason, you still feel like ordering, and decide you should make a switch. Sounds reasonable.

Anyway, I could harp on this forever, and there’s no need. It’s learning how to train customers to be better customers, as my boss always tells me. It’s teaching them that they can trust you to make something more delicious than their expectations, and that their fidgety nervousness is unneeded. People are weird about food, and people themselves are even weirder about themselves. It’s still a delight to cook for people, and most people order unmolested menu items 100% of the time. Hooray!

One Comment

  1. I taught you that? cool. All my grumbles are not for naught! Or some of them anyhow. I always like to say the customer is not always right, but it’s not our job to prove them wrong. To their face.


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