Saturday, February 19, 2011

Fooling Myself

It'd been a while since I had eaten.

I didn't do dinner the night before and it was only coffee that morning, so I was hungry. I had several errands to run and thought I would just grab something on the fly.

The problem however was that between work and my destinations the quick in-and-out food purchasing options were practically nil. With the exception of my old nemesis: McCrappage.


Begrudgingly, I pulled into the drive-thru line and decided on a chipotle Angus burger. How bad could it really be? I'd had the mushroom and swiss Angus concoction previously and it was passable. I noted on one of the decorative lawn signs beside the order kiosk a picture with the burger I wanted spilling out red onion, so I made certain to place my order sans condiment. I don't like red onion. Matter'n fact, I verified it with the guy who took my request.

This may have been a mistake.

You see: While the burger was tasteless ... while the bacon on the burger had an inclination toward cardboardy-ness ... while I was thankful the overly pungent chipotle sauce slathered on the sandwich at least gave it some sort of flavor, I believe the red onion I asked to be held may have actually made the meal appreciative. Because, let me tell you something: This particular lunch? One I'll tuck in the back of my mind as a "order if desperate only" selection.

I keep fooling myself food at McCrappage will be good. It has to be every once in a while ... right? Especially if you're famished ... right? Anything's good when you're famished ... right? Right?

Right ... ?!?

Bueller??? Bueller ... ???

................................... Ruprecht ( STOP )

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Customer Service Done Right

This is the way it should be done:

I ventured into
Claro's Italian Market early Saturday afternoon to pick up a couple sandwiches my cousin ordered. I was greeted by a full house, everybody and his brother seemingly "shopping Italian", looking for authentic foodstuffs for the weekend ... or to possibly whip up that special Valentine's meal two days hence.

Wandering over to the deli counter, I realized I needed to grab a number for "more efficient service". Understand, this isn't your standard "gimme half a pound of mortadella" and you're out the door; the folks purchasing meats and cheeses and whatnot linger and consider and question. So, if you're in a hurry, Claro's isn't the best choice for you to get in, get out.

A good 12 minutes in, my number was finally called: "Number 76!" by a loud and bit gruff deli dude. I tossed my number in a throw-away bucket and told him I was here to pick up a call-in order.

"Dude: You should have told me as soon as you got here ... you didn't have to wait around," he stated. As it turned out, it wouldn't have made a difference as they hadn't even started the sandwiches called in 30 minutes prior.

"Look ... sorry ... let me do this: I have some excellent roast beef on the slicer. Want a sample?" He was obviously in a mode to make up for the faux pas.

"Only if you have a little horseradish jack you can slap atop it," I commented.

"Done," he answered.

Inside 15 seconds, I was munching on a thinly sliced, rolled up layer of roast beef with an equally thin slice of exquisite tangy white jack nestled within. It was deli heaven.

"Isn't that outstanding?" he cajoled. "Now, I don't know about you, but make a grilled cheese out of that particular jack, add some hot tomato soup along with it and you have something satisfying." He slapped the counter. "Your sandwiches will be up in a minute ..."

But, before he left, I told him: "You know, you're good, you. You're a salesman. And not in a bad way. Give me a quarter pound of beef and cheese, please."

He smiled. "Thanks. Tell my boss I'm good. He's right behind you, down the aisle there ..."

I proceeded to do just that. I walked half an aisle down and confronted his superior while he took care of my order. His boss looked up as I approached, seeing I wanted his attention.

"Hey guy ... I just wanted to let you know: That gentleman there?" I pointed at him behind the counter "He's good. You might want to keep him around for a while."

The Boss smirked. "Good to hear. Because I was gonna fire his ass at the beginning of the week. Thanks." We both smiled at each other and as I returned to the counter, I was handed my sandwiches and my meat and cheese, professionally, tightly and neatly wrapped.

And that's what customer service is all about: Servicing the customer. Pleasantly offering advice ... samples ... friendliness to a stranger ... unencumbered assistance.

Deli Dude did his job and knew he did it well, made an extra little sale to boot.

And I got something I wasn't expecting:
Faith and assurance there are still people out there who know how to work customer service in the big, bad world ...

............... Ruprecht ( STOP )