I thought that, with the collective doom and the frigid cold, I could come up with a rightly gripey post that would drive a heated discussion. But alas, it looks like my membership in the Lollipop Guild is solid for this week.
Bad service leaves me cold. The feeling doesn't stem from a the-guest-is-always-right position, far from it—I've known many guests who are horribly wrong. It comes from one of my former lives, where I opened restaurants and trained staff on guest service. It's because I know how easy it is to give great guest service that it kills me when someone can't manage a smile, eye contact, or a simple thanks. What's really sad is that I don't even expect someone to bend over backward in my definition of great service, a simple touch of human courtesy and sincerity will win you extra dollars from my pocket.
So it is with great pleasure that I can tell you I've seen great, yes great, service three times in the past week! I know, in a down economy. I know, in the bitter stretch of January. I've seen the sweetness and sincerity of people who are probably among the most stretched in the country.
Lunching at Cafe Twenty-Eight in Linden Hills, my date and I split a burger and a giant bowl of killer chickpea-chipotle soup. He's a real-estate agent, OK? He's a cheap date. We couldn't even finish the soup, so our sweet server cupped it up for us. We left our 20 percent and headed out the door. We made it down half the block when we realized that our server was chasing us--with our forgotten soup. He'd already made his money, his other tables were full and busy, he was wearing short sleeves in negative-degree weather: No one would have blamed him for tossing the soup. But he didn't.
Rushing back to my desk after lunchtime errands, I was already grumpy that the only thing I had time to do was pick up a salad to eat at my desk. I popped in to Allie's Deli in the skyway of The Rand Building to scout the salad options. Sadly, the case was well picked over. The guy behind the counter noted my look of disappointment and asked me what I was looking for. He offered to make me the salad I wanted in less than a minute. By the time we were done negotiating silverware, dressing choices, and payment, my salad was ready. He looked me in the eye, said "Thanks, Stephanie" (a trick of the credit card, I know, but effective when said with sincere eye contact), and threw in a wry "see you tomorrow!" They probably will.
I had set up my little work station at Common Roots and proceeded to the counter to order my bagel. Seriously, I was giddy as I trotted back to my table, that's how much I was looking forward to that bagel. In what can only be blamed on my lame-o coordination issues, I zigged when I should have zagged, and the bagel ended up cream-cheese-down on the floor. It was my fault, and I sat there knowing it was my fault. Before I could even grab my purse to go buy another, one of the counter kids came over with a wipe-up cloth, told me that she had another one working for me, and not to worry, it was on them. For the grace of a $2 bagel, I stuffed $5 in the tip jar.