This week, for Wednesdays for Mary, I have a story about customer service.
When we lived in Chicago, we would go to the Loop on Saturday afternoons and walk around State Street, the main shopping district in Chicago, and Wabash Avenue one block east, where Kroch’s & Brentano’s, Crown Books, Laury’s Records, and several music stores were located. Sometimes we’d actually buy something, but mostly it was an excuse to get out of the house.
On one particular Saturday in early spring (i.e. late April or early May; spring comes late in Chicago), we had done some shopping, and decided we’d go to the McDonald’s on Wabash and get lunch. We got there, Mary found a table, told me what she wanted, and waited for me while I went to the counter. She wanted a Big Mac and a cup of hot tea, with cream.
It wasn’t too busy, and I got to the front of the line pretty quickly and gave my order. The young lady behind the counter looked confused, but put our order in and got our drinks, Coke for me, and iced tea for Mary.
“I’m sorry, but I wanted hot tea,” I said pleasantly, pushing the cup of iced tea back to her.
She looked confused again, took the cup of iced tea, and brought me iced tea, but without the ice.
“I’m sorry, I want hot tea,” I said.
She looked at me and said “That’s as hot as it’s going to get, honey.”
Realizing this was likely a training issue, I asked if I could speak with the manager. She steps into the cooking area, and, in a loud voice, says “James, this white guy out there says he wants hot tea.” Everyone in line is now looking at me, the white guy who wants hot tea.
“Well, get him his hot tea!”
“I brought him tea without ice in it…”
“No, no, c’mere.” He walked her out to the front. Explaining what he was doing, he poured hot water into a cup, put on a lid, set a tea bag on the lid, and brought it to me. “Sorry about that, sir,” he said.
I assured him there was no problem (like I said, I figured it was a training issue), thanked both the manager and the young lady, and carried my food back to the table.
Mary looked relieved when I got there. “Where were you? I was sitting here waiting and waiting…”
As I’m telling her the story, the older couple who had been behind me in line walked past us. The woman stopped and said, “I asked her for iced tea. Guess what I got?”
from The Sound of One Hand Typing