Let’s start with two principles: 1) There is a good service person inside almost every front-line server; and, 2) as a customer able to see the absurdity of stupid service rules, we need to sometimes help the service person navigate the rules that govern their service. Practice these two principles and poor service will be a rarity. In fact, you will often get great service.
I was visiting a friend in the hospital. When the nurse announced to my friend she would be shortly bringing him breakfast, I saw it as an opportunity to go down to the hospital café and get breakfast-to-go to eat when my friend got his breakfast. The café was set up as a self-service buffet with powered eggs, bacon, sausage, grits, hash browns, toast and biscuits.
Two cooks were in the back of the open kitchen in conversation. When one saw me not serving myself, she asked, “May I help you?”
“Do you have a grill?” I queried, noticing one behind her. “Yes, we do,” she said.
“Wonderful,” I said with all the optimism and sunshine I could muster. “I’d like two eggs cooked over easy.”
“Sorry,” she said in a very robotic voice, “We are not allowed to cook eggs over easy.”
Now, pause for a second. What would the typical customer do next? And, what would the typical customer conclude? This is where the two principles come into play.
“I am so sorry,” I said and repeated my earlier question: “Do you have a grill?”
“Yes, but we have a rule that uncracked egg yolks cannot be served to a patient or a guest,” she said with the first sign of “wish-I-could-help” coming from her voice.
“Oh, that’s okay,” I amiably said. “I bet you can crack the eggs yolks and cook them fried!” “Coming right up!” she told me and began her work. At this point two nurses came in to serve themselves and saw me waiting.
“Can we help you?” one nurse asked.
“Thanks,” I answered. “I am waiting on your chef to finish cooking my eggs.”
Then, the line that was worth the price of admission! “You got her to cook you eggs?” the other nurse asked. At that point, I could not resist. I called back to my egg expert and commented, “They surely do smell great!” My chef turned and smiled.
Once the eggs were cooked, instead of just handing them to me over the counter to put on my plate, she brought them around the buffet counter and presented them to me!
Now, here is the moral of the story…in story form. Spotting the biscuit on my plate, she enthusiastically asked, “Would you like me to heat up that biscuit in my microwave back there?”