Actually, it’s more of a Oh NO she didn’t she didn’t!
I like to think of myself, for the most part, a very easy-going gal. I really am not a fan of confrontation, usually doing anything to avoid it at all costs. I never get angry or like to criticize people and I always try to give people the benefit of the doubt. There are some things, and instances , and times, and people however, that really get my skivies in a twist.
Last night happened to be such an occurrence.
After a long day at work, I decided to treat myself to some delic-i-oso Panera Bread for dinner. There aren’t too many restaurants that get my mouth-watering from the instant it’s mentioned, and Panera happens to be one of them. I had received a $5 coupon from work a couple of weeks ago to Panera and was so excited to use it! It had been burning a hole in my wallet for some time now and I decided that tonight was the night to extinguish that flame. All day long at work, visions of Panera Plum fairies danced in my head.
Editing photos and graphics, I was taking the very first bite of my sandwich, savoring every morsel of the freshly baked bread-turkey-tomato-crisp lettuce-and sour pickle goodness, not even caring that I just dropped mustard all over my shirt.
Writing up proposals, I smelled the straight from the oven, chocolate-chip cookies that are displayed so elegantly on the pedestals by the front counter.
As I sat returning emails, I was slurping up the cool and refreshing taste of my strawberry banana smoothie through a bright pink straw, so fresh in fact, that bits of strawberry seeds were getting stuck in my teeth along the way.
Yes. I was just a little bit excited.
As the clock struck 5 and I headed out the office doors, I had a spring in my step that can only be described as “Panera Pep”. After having finally arrived at the restaurant, I surveyed the menu board before me. Talk about tough choices; I would rank this right up there with deciding what new hair doo I should get (which by the way, I have yet to decide…I know, I know I am a wimp. But I promise you will be the first to know when–and if–I do). I really wasn’t feeling my usually go-to “You Pick Two” deal, which consists of a small salad/soup or soup/sammy or sammy/salad. I was really craving just a big-as-your-head sandwich that I could sink my teeth into.
I walked up to the counter with my coupon, anticipation building with each step I took. As I approached the cashier, I placed my order my sammy du jour: a smoked turkey on 9 grain with lettuce, extra tomato, pickle and mustard (NO MAYO..because really, who likes mayo? Gross.) and a strawberry banana smoothie. I got my ticket-buzzer doohicky thing and walked down the line to wait for my food. I decided to head to the little girls’ room real quick before sitting down to eat. As I was walking out of the stall, I noticed the cashier who had helped me walk in to use the facilities as well. I stood for a moment in front of the mirrors, washing my hands and redoing my ponytail (that darn Milwaukee wind does a number on my hair). I soon heard the toilet flush and saw out of the corner of my eye, the cashier walk out of the stall and the restroom itself. Without. Washing. Her. Hands.
For a moment I thought she would come back in. Perhaps something so simple and basic as washing ones hands after using the bathroom had slipped her mind. It can happen, right? Like I said, I am open to giving people the benefit of the doubt. But no.
This girl had committed the cardinal sin of food service personnel. She didn’t wash her hands.
At least she wasn’t the one handling the food…phew.
Well, I spoke too soon on that wish. As I walked out to where you can see the orders being prepared, I noticed non-hand-washing-cashier-lady was now donning a hair net and gloves and was going to town on my. MY. sandwich. Okay, so she had gloves on, but that was still sooo gross. All I could think of at that moment was the Seinfeld episode where Jerry sees Poppy walk out of the bathroom sans washing his hands, only to return to kneading and preparing Jerry’s very own pizza pie.
I was so lost in my thoughts that when my ticket-buzzer doohicky thing went off in my hands, I jumped. I wearily made my way up to the counter and picked up my tray. Suddenly my sammy didn’t look so good. But, I was too hungry and too excited to let something like this ruin my dinner. And, like I said, she did at least have gloves on.
Finally, I sat down and was about to take that coveted first bite that I had been thinking about all day long when I noticed three things: First, my sandwich was on a white baguette, not 9 grain like I asked. Not really a big deal. Second, there was not a trace of a tomato anywhere. If they simply forgot to include the ‘extra’ on my sammy, I would have been okay but they totally skimped. There was zilch. Nodda. And third, as I was looking for my tomatoes, I saw globs and globs of nasty, gooey, white MAYO! Now they’ve crossed the line. I can handle most things, but mayo? Blech!
I got my sandwich and walked back up to the counter where I first placed my order. And guess who I see? Yes, non-hand-washing-cashier-lady was back at being a cashier. I just can’t seem to get a way from this girl. SHe seemed nice enough so I told her my predicament and asked if she could give me another sandwich. She looked at me like I was asking for a million dollars. She did finally place the order for my corrected meal, after having given me the third degree on why it was again that I was needing another sandwich (she actually asked me if I was sure I didn’t like mayo and if that was true, to give it “another go”–I felt like asking her if she liked eating worms and if she didn’t, to give those “another go”–okay, I know those things really aren’t comparable but still, I was hungry like the Hulk, you won’t like me when I get hungry—I go green, shirts tear, it’s a whole ordeal).
After finally having received my sandwich, I sat back and tried to reclaim what was supposed to be a great dinner. And you know what, even though there were a few hiccups, a few under-handwashings, and one messed up sandwich, it was a great dinner. And, you know what, I am still claiming Panera Bread as one of the all-time greatest fast-casual restaurants there is. I just might decide to hit up another location next time is all.
Question of the day: Have you ever been served less-than-stellar customer service while dining out?