I went to a chain burger joint last night where I witnessed another bartender living MY nightmare. He, too, had to contend with the takeout bullshit at the bar.
I watched and listened as a woman held him hostage for ten minutes while she ordered her food to go. Several times throughout the proceedings he attempted to give her the menu that she insisted that she did not need. Trust me, she needed it.
If she asked one question, she asked a hundred. The answers to her questions could very easily have been found in the menu. Rather than doing anything as pesky as reading, though, she insisted on getting her information by auditory means.
As he was attending to our non-reader, his bar began to fill up. I also noticed that the service bar was getting a little busy, too. He was also aware of these things.
Still, he could not, no matter how hard he tried (and he was giving it his all), get this woman to complete her takeout order. I could, quite literally, feel his pain.
When she finally arrived at what I can only guess were life-changing decisions regarding onion rings vs. fries (the choices between these two foodstuffs seemed most troublesome to her) and had finished with the beleaguered bartender, she decided to move on to the host stand; to chat up the busy staff over there. Where, I wondered, did she think she was? Her own kitchen? She seemed to have zero understanding of how things work in a restaurant.
Many, many people behave this way on a daily basis in restaurants across America. They wander around, sit wherever they please, suck the life out of the staff, and then go on their merry way — leaving a slew of people “in the weeds” in the wake of tending to some egotistical twit with a $15 check who thinks that he or she is the center of everyone’s universe.
This woman, in fact, reminded me of one of my regular takeout customers, one who is also a regular pain in the ass. Among the various and sundry things that make him a pain in the ass, his largest defect by far, is that he is cheap. How cheap is he? Let’s just say that I would not be surprised to see moths flying out of his coupon-filled wallet.
He is not poor, by the way. He is just cheap. He purchases large quantities of gift cards — at a significant cost AND a significant discount — so that he can save a few bucks every time he comes in to torture us. This savings, though, is not enough for him.
He has been told time and time again that he cannot use multiple coupons and yet he produces multiple coupons each and every time he comes in to pick up his order. By “multiple”, I mean at least three, sometimes four. He orders two entrees and wants to use three coupons, coupons that clearly state they are meant to be used for two adult meals. He then drags out, and insists upon using, a years old and long expired free dessert or appetizer coupon that he somehow found on the internet.
And, he always finds something to complain about. Always. The other night it was the bags that I used to pack up his order. For a time we had better bags, but the company went back to the old ones. He told me that I needed to go in the back and make sure there were none left — because he wanted those bags, the “good” bags. Instead of assuring him that there were no “good” bags left, I wandered in the back, took a little breather, and returned to report to him the bad news about the bags. They were gone.
Prior to the appearance of “cheap ass coupon guy”, a nice couple had sat at one of my bar tables. I had taken and delivered their drink order. They were, at that time, not ready to order their dinner.
I got rid of “cheap ass coupon guy”, or so I thought, and made my way over to the bar table to take the couple’s order. I thanked them for their patience. The woman looked at me and said, “Our patience? I was just saying to my husband that you are the one with the patience. I could never do what you do, not in a million years! What was he going on about? Bags? That’s just craziness.” Yes, I agreed, it was.
As I looked heavenward, placed my hand over my heart, and told her — in a very dramatic way — that at least it was all behind me now, who do you think appeared out of the corner of my eye? “Cheap ass coupon guy”, that’s who. He was baaaaack!
Before he could tap me on the shoulder or otherwise make his presence known, I turned to him and said, “Yes, sir, is there something else that I can do for you tonight?” (Like wipe your ass, for example?) He told me that he was going to need his order double-bagged.
As I was about to ask the nice couple if they could indulge me the thirty seconds that I would need to double bag his damn order, which did NOT, let me assure you, need to be double-bagged, the woman whose order I was taking turned to him and said, very politely and in an even tone, “Okay. Enough is enough with you. You need another bag, my ass. We sat here and watched your act, suffered through your request for a different sort of bag, watched as this woman laboriously and, probably not for the first time, explained the coupon policy to you. We then listened to you as you sent her back to the kitchen for more free bread. Your turn is over. It’s our turn now.”
She then produced a business card from her wallet, her business card, handed it to him and said, “If it spills in your car, I’ll take care of it.” She then took a beat and said, “You may want to hold on to that card, I help people like you all the time.”
He made for the door. I burst out laughing, thanked her, and then asked her what exactly it was that she did for a living. Was she a car detailer?
It turns out that she is a therapist. I laughed even harder. I asked her if she subscribed to the “tough love” theory of behavior modification.
She looked at me, arched her eyebrows, and said, “You may think that I was harsh with him, but the reality is that people who behave like that, people like him, need to have boundaries set for them. You may have noticed that I did not raise my voice or speak to him in an angry tone. That’s the important piece. Still, I let him know that his behavior was unacceptable.”
I then asked her about the “my ass” comment. She kind of chuckled while she admitted that she has her own style — a style that works for her. I could certainly appreciate her flair. I told her that and added that she was a rock star. At the end of the meal I asked her for her card. I let her know that if I ever decided to seek the therapy that some people are convinced that I desperately need, I would be giving her a call.
This method for finding a therapist may not be for everyone, but I like to think that I, too, bring my own personal flair to certain situations. And, you have to love a therapist who peppers her conversations with “my ass”. Yeah. She’s my kind of therapist.