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January 26, 2009 / Maleesha Kovnesky

How To Do Your Job (Yeah, You)

Today in America over 70,000 jobs were lost.  In one day.  Isn’t that something?  If you are reading this and you are one of those who lost their job today or recently, I am sorry.  Everyone is under so much stress as it is.  Some people blame Wall Street.  Others blame people for not having any savings.  I’ve even heard people blame those who lose their jobs on the fact that maybe they should have picked a different field!  No one has a looking glass, a magic crystal ball.  And if you do, can you please tell me if I will be able to fit into my favorite pant-shorts by summer? 

Today I went to pick up dinner at “Chain Food BBQ R Us.”  I didn’t want to cook, and every now and again we order in so no one has to do the dishes.  I called my order in and they told me to pick it up in 10 to 15 minutes. 

I arrived sometime at the 15-16 minute mark and parked at the “To-Go” area.  The “To-Go” area is separate from the main dining area, supposedly so you can rush in and pay and make a quick exit without disrupting the line for those who want to sit in the dining room.  When I got there, no one was behind the counter.  Out in the lobby, there were a couple hosts dilly-dallying and chit-chatting.  One looked at me and saw me waiting, and they made a grand gesture to raise their neck up to look for someone to help me.  Apparently they didn’t see anyone, so they looked back to the other host and re-engaged in chat. 

I saw my order sitting on the table behind the counter.  I hoped someone would come take my money soon; after all, the meal was quickly losing temperature and the fact that I was about to walk it out into zero degrees was not going to help matters.

Finally someone came out to take my money.  I handed my debit card to her and…

…the phone rang. 

Okay, I get that she answered the phone.  She could have said “Could you hold please?” since she had already started helping me.  But she didn’t.  She proceeded to take the full order of the person on the other end of the line.  To make matters worse, the person seemed to be ordering for herself and the rest of her neighborhood.  After what seemed like time enough for salmonella to sprout on my chicken, she turned back to finish taking my money.  Oh, the joy!  Ocean in view.

Would you believe that the phone rang again?  And that it was the same person, calling to change something on her order?  You should, because that is what happened.  And the girl took the call, and changed the order. 

After all this, I was allowed to sign my receipt and leave. 

I was irritated.  I wasn’t irritated at the lady on the phone, how could she know someone was standing there already being helped.  In fact, when I called in my order, I could have possibly inflicted the same sort of scenario on someone else trying to pick up their ribs.  I was just irritated.  Was I irritated at the girl, who was young and probably didn’t think about protocol of FIFO?  Or was I mad at myself for not bestowing some of my own food-service wisdom on her (Help one person at a time in the order they were received, lest you piss everyone off). 

I decided that I was irritated for no good reason, other than the fact I was in a hurry.  And I wasn’t even in a real hurry, I am just used to instant gratification most of the time.  If I want a movie, I can download it or get it “On Demand.”  If I can’t remember the lyrics to a song, I Google it for instant earworm relief.  And so help me Dog, if I want BBQ I want it To Go and I want it right now. 

But it really wasn’t a big deal.  Her job was to get food ordered, and even if I would have done it differently, I didn’t get any bruises.  My job is to remain calm and not get angry over it.  I gave myself a mental slap tonight and reminded myself not to sweat the petty things, or pet the sweaty things.  I remind myself of this a lot. 

And now I feel better, indigestion and all.

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10 Comments

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  1. rambleicious / Jan 28 2009 11:41 am

    I’m with CWG – I’d have left and written a letter to the manager (but I would wish for the patience you showed).

    Will that be your last order from there?

    No, they’re usually good, so I will go back.

  2. Sharon / Jan 28 2009 9:34 am

    Aaaargh. I am annoyed just reading this. I would have told her to put the person on hold until she completed my transaction (cause I am vocal like that). It’s just common sense, and common courtesy that apparently some people don’t have.

    You are right. She was really young though, and I didn’t feel like being the person to get spun up that day. I was proud of myself for not getting raged up about it. I used to be the Raged Up Person and I don’t want to have a stroke in my 30’s.

  3. Allison / Jan 27 2009 5:08 pm

    I didn’t know that you spoke accounting (FIFO) 🙂

  4. morethananelectrician / Jan 27 2009 12:24 pm

    It is a fine line. If they are busy, then a “Hey! We are really slammed right now, I am sorry for the delay,” goes a long way with me.

    I understand the issues that come up and that they are doing what they can…if they are doing what they can.

    I am sure that stores managers are being hit with running thier stores AND using less labor $$$…either in the number of workers or the quality of the workforce.

  5. megan / Jan 27 2009 6:48 am

    Good for you for consciously trying to get out of annoy-mode. In cases like that I usually just stew for hours until I forget why I was annoyed in the first place. You’ll get good karma points.

    That said, I have to agree with the commenters before me. There is no substitute for good customer service, which, I fear, is a dying art form. Once upon a time, the customer was always right, and the staff was expected to almost bend over backwards to make that customer happy, and therefore return to the store. Today, the customer is often made to feel like an imposition, often looked upon from down the length of the long nose of a snotty sales representative who feels above the task of serving a customer.

    Now, this isn’t to say that all Applebees waiters and Gap employees are like this. I’m just saying that staff with good manners and common sense are in the minority these days.

    I like what CWG said – I actually often write letters to managers and/or heads of companies, both to complain about awful service and to praise good service. I think that they need to know how their employees are doing, since they are directly representing the interests of the company. Believe it or not, I’ve been written back a few times, and thanked for the critiques (both good and bad)! If I were in that position, I would want to know so that I could weed out any employees about whom I was consistently getting complaints, and replace them with people who cared enough about having a job to do it well.

    Sorry to sound like such a curmudgeon – I’ve had a bad customer experience in the past 12 hours and I’m still stewing.

    That’s great that you write letters for both bad AND good experiences. That is only fair. I tend to write letters when it’s a far away bank or insurance company or Qwest when I have had a completely appalling experience. Yet I never think to write a letter when things go perfectly right.

  6. crisitunity / Jan 27 2009 6:27 am

    This is one of my dad’s biggest pet peeves of all time – the custserv person who answers the phone when he is standing right there. I’ve seen him bitch people out about it, and ask them why he bothered to come to the store when he could have gotten better service over the phone.

    Perhaps all the professional job losses mean that we’ll have people with master’s degrees working at Chain Food BBQ R Us, and we’ll actually get good service until the economy picks up.

    Interesting angle about service improving in bad times. Let’s hope!

  7. curlywurlygurly / Jan 27 2009 5:51 am

    oh, and nut that i am…i would have followed up my departure with a letter to the manager. constructive venting always makes me feel better.

  8. curlywurlygurly / Jan 27 2009 5:50 am

    yes, i agree that poor customer service isn’t like contracting a horrible disease, but COME ON. ignoring customers and/or taking other calls while waiting on someone is inexcusable and i would have turned on my heel and left. seriously. i don’t have time to be treated shabbily no matter how hungry i am.

  9. teeni / Jan 26 2009 10:43 pm

    Well, okay. You are right – in the big scheme of things, it really isn’t anything to fuss over too much. However, I was always taught that you take care of people who are in front of you (in person) first, then the phone calls, then the mail/email. That has always made the most sense to me too. The most critical customer to please is the one right in front of you or otherwise it seems rude to ignore them. Then, someone calling on the phone should be taken care of, and lastly, mail/email since if they wanted a quicker response they would have phoned or come to see you! 😉

  10. fawnahareo / Jan 26 2009 10:24 pm

    You know, I think I’m usually a pretty forgiving and optimistic person, but I think I would’ve stayed annoyed a lot longer. Good for you, I says.

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