By A.J. Llewellyn
I was having a rough day yesterday and my friend Cindy took me to lunch at our favorite Japanese restaurant. The lone waitress was slammed and we were very patient and understanding. Cindy and I haven't seen each other for a while and we had a great time catching up.
Except that I was getting hungrier and hungrier and I noticed people all around us rubbing their chopsticks together in happy anticipation.
And then the wait went on...and on...
I saw food coming out of the kitchen, but none of it reaching the tables. I strolled past the assorted Buddhist shrines and Japanese screen prints and realized all the food being prepared was heading out the back door for home delivery!
The desk manager was taking calls, running credit cards, scribbling illegible food orders and manning the computer. She was taking email orders!
I sauntered back to the table and reported my findings. Everybody around us fumed. One guy pulled out his cell phone and called the front desk.
It rang and rang and we all watched as the desk manager hauled out a huge order and ran out the back door.
She scrambled back again and answered the phone. By now, the entire restaurant was watching her.
"Hai!" she answered, panting and leaning on the counter.
"Hi yourself," huffed her hungry patron. "I'm in your restaurant and I want my lunch!"
She looked so startled I thought she was going to cry. A flurry of small dishes arrived and Cindy and I got one of our appetizers: spinach with sesame seeds.
We fought over it.
What a man I am!
Our iced green tea arrived - just one - so we split it and I glimpsed a guy beside me licking his miso soup bowl clean.
"I'm sending her an email," said the guy who'd been clever enough to call the desk manager.
The phone was ringing, there was a line at the door and the waitress was carting around a tray of drinks, but still no food in sight.
The desk manager focused instead on her emails.
She obviously read the one from her in-house patron. He gave her a finger wave when she glanced in his direction. Her look was venomous, to say the least.
"You think she's gonna spit in my food?" the guy asked the rest of us.
"Prolly," said Cindy, eyeing the check. "Let's blow this Popsicle stand." We took some cash to the counter and left the check beside all the outgoing orders.
"You no like?" the desk manager asked. I realized she was talking to somebody else. A very pregnant woman and her small son stared at her.
"No, I don't like," the pregnant woman said. "If I wait any longer, I'll give birth right here."
"You have mail," the tinny, electronic computer voice announced.
"Please excuse," the desk manager said and TURNED BACK TO HER COMPUTER!
"She's an addict," Cindy said, waiting to refute the multiple charges on our check.
"I'm sending her an email," the pregnant woman said and whipped out her cell phone.
It's good to know in tough times like these that customer service is alive and well, ha ha. I won't say I will never go back to my fave haunt again...but I'll email first and check that they want my business...