I finally succumbed to that overbearing craving for a hamburger the other evening and me and Stinky loaded up in the pickup and headed into town. I shook my head in disappointment as we drove past the Burger King...still closed for remodeling. They must have only one guy working on it. And he sure is slow. I pondered all the other options in our little podunk town. The burgers at the Dairy Queen were a bit pricey, about the cost of a decent steak up in the city. I couldn't stomach those onions the folks at the Sonic slap on their burgers and the tomatoes are always about a month past being edible. That left me with one option. I sighed as I pulled into the Golden Arches. I'll be sorry, I told myself. I should go back home and cook my own burger, I told myself. But did I listen? Nooo.
There is only one food item I will eat from McDonald's and it's a stretch to call it tasty. I pulled up to the speaker.
"I'll have the Quarter Pounder Deluxe, medium fries, and a Sprite."
The voice came through the speaker, "Shumfurpshibyedzum?"
My eye twitched a bit as I responded, "Uh, okay...that's all."
I pulled up to the first window and whipped out my debit card.
"The printer is not working. Sorry, I can't give you a receipt. Please pull up to the next window."
Sure, I don't need a receipt. I don't keep them for tax purposes. It would be nice to verify that I wasn't charged fifty bucks for my meal, but what the heck.
Stopping at the next window, I waited patiently for my meal. The window slid open and the girl inside said,
I glanced at her and shrugged as the window closed. I continued to sit there, patiently waiting for my meal. Five minutes later, the window slid open once again and the employee tersely instructed,
"You need to pull forward! We will bring your meal out to you when it's ready!"
I grumbled under my breath and obeyed.
Ten minutes later, a girl who obviously indulged in more than her fair share of Big Macs appeared beside the pickup with a sack.
"Okay, here's your Big Mac."
"Um, no...I ordered a Double Cheeseburger Deluxe. It's what I paid for. You know, it has that wilted lettuce, a sliver of tomato, and mayo on it."
"She exhaled a sigh of disgust and disappeared. Ten minutes later the manager appeared.
"Quarter Pounder Deluxe, medium fries, and a Sprite?" she said tersely.
I nodded and took the sack. Without as much as a 'Sorry you have wasted a half hour of your life waiting for your order,' she disappeared. It was clear I had been tagged a troublemaker.
Returning home, I settled into a chair on the patio and reached into the sack. I was past hungry by now. I let out a howl as I glanced at my burger, startling Stinky, who had sat at my feet in preparation for a possible stray french fry that might fall to the ground.
"This is NOT a Double Cheeseburger Deluxe! This is a regular Double Cheeseburger!"
I lifted the top bun and shoved the burger to the dog's eye level.
"See, there is no wilted lettuce! No sliver of tomato! And...and...there is ketchup and mustard on it!" My voice raised to a shout as I declared, "Whoever came up with the idea of putting ketchup and mustard together on a burger damn sure ain't from Texas!"
The dog, by now hopeful that I'd just forfeit my burger, looked at me with those wanting eyes.
Grumbling, I took my first bite. I grumbled some more as I took my second. In fact, I grumbled all the way through the meal. And when I finished I went to the kitchen to get a cookie to get that horrid taste of ketchup and mustard out of my mouth. I pretty much grumbled for the rest of the night, vowing to share my story.
I worked in retail for fifteen years of my life and I am perhaps a bit more demanding than most when it comes to customer service. As a manager, I drilled the importance of customer service into the heads of my employees on a daily basis. In today's world, customer service is all but extinct. The customer has become an inconvenience, apparently in the minds of employees. Yeah, I'm old school. I still want to walk out of a store with the feeling that they earned my money. I want to feel like they appreciated me choosing to shop at their establishment. This particular place with the golden arches should be jumping through hoops with their competitor down the street shut down for remodeling. A golden opportunity wasted! A perfect chance to win over a return customer time for years to come. Instead, they made an enemy.
Now, I tread lightly as I continue, but there is a point that needs to be made. In light of the recent incident at a Starbucks in Philidelphia...you know what I'm talking about...indifference is color blind. Again, I speak cautiously when I bring up the fact that not one of those employees at the local McDonalds who dealt with me that day were white. Living in the bowels of west Texas where the Caucasian population is less than fifty percent, I have seen time and time again that not all customers, regardless where they shop, are treated equally or fairly. It's just a fact. I don't view it as a racial problem. When an employee working in a retail establishment fails to do their job, which is to serve customers, it is a customer service problem. If I were going to close every one of my stores down for training, as the CEO of Starbucks has vowed to do, I would make sure every one of those employees walked away from that meeting fully understanding the importance of customer service. Employees who can't grasp that concept should be escorted to the door...and forced to consume enormous quantities of burgers with ketchup and mustard on them.