Am I the only one who has weird encounters every single time I travel? That can’t be. (Can it?)
This week, I had a quick trip to Boston (where my heart resides, so I have to visit it) to present a legal ethics program to recently minted lawyers. On the way, I tried to grab a meal at Reagan airport. The flight was at 6:30, and I wanted to eat before I had to get on the plane. I chose an allegedly fast food outpost near my gate, Big Bowl. It was not busy: maybe two people ahead of me, one behind. The order was simple: a “big bowl” of kung pao chicken with white rice, no drink. I paid, and got my slip with the number 555.
When they called 555, it wasn’t my order. They called 549 before that, and it wasn’t right either. All the numbers on all the orders were wrong, and the confusion added about 10 minutes to everyone’s wait, notably mine. Finally, they skipped the numbers entirely, and shouted out the contents of each order. My big bowl had been mislabeled 550, and for a while I had to argue with the customer who had the 550 ticket, until she realized she had ordered fried rice, not white rice.
Meanwhile the employees were just shrugging, giggling and smiling away. “You had the wrong number,” one said to me. “No, you had the wrong number on my order. Why?” She shrugged and smiled.
“That’s no answer, ” I said. “Do you have a system, or not? Can’t you tell me what happened? I was inconvenienced. Part of what I’m paying for is service. Why did this happen?”
Another shrug. No acceptance of responsibility. No apology or anything remotely sounding like one. At this point, a superannuated hippy who looked like she was ready to do a Joan Baez set intervened with a condescending, “They made a mistake. Mistakes happen.” Continue reading