The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Posts tagged ‘customer service’


God invented cream cheese for two reasons.  The first, of course, is as an ingredient in Cheesecake.  The second is for the liberal application of that substance on bagels.  (Without cream cheese, bagels have no reason to exist).

Perhaps, like me, you occasionally get a craving for something.  In my case it was for a bagel with a liberal amount of cream cheese applied to its toasted surface.  So I went to the best bagel bakery in town – only to find it had closed.  This shocked me since we have a relatively large and well-heeled Jewish population in Las  Vegas who I would have thought supported such a place.

Well, I’ve tried the bagels before in the large supermarkets but they are simply unpalatable (no matter how much cream cheese is applied to them).  So I went to a bagel bakery/deli very near my house and found that their doors were locked.  There was no sign on the door indicating the reason for that – so I assumed there had been some sort of family emergency which prevented them from opening.

Of course my taste buds were simply going berserk by now – but I decided to hold off until the following day and pick up my bagels.  But when I returned the next morning, a sign had been posted on the door which read “Store for Rent.”  Imagine, two bagel joints going out of business within a week.

Then I remembered there was an Einstein Bros. Bagel restaurant about a mile and a half down the road.  While I hadn’t truly loved their bagels five years before when I last ate one, they were still a step up from the ones at the supermarkets.  So I drove down there.  I needed a cream cheese/bagel fix bad.

It was relatively early in the morning, about 7:45 and I expected the restaurant to be full of customers picking up their “to go” orders as they went to work.  Much to my surprise (and delight), I was the only person in the store other than the cashier and three young women who were standing behind the bagel display.

I saw the sign, hanging from the ceiling that said, “Order Here” which was directly over the display case and I walked over to order.  On the wall there was a listing of the various bagels which one could purchase, though I found it easier to choose by looking at the bagels in the case.  And after a few seconds I had decided on one “Everything Bagel”; one “Garlic Bagel”; and one “Onion Bagel”.  I was ready to order.

Unfortunately, none of the three young women seemed remotely interested in interrupting their conversation in order to accommodate my wishes.  They were thoroughly rapt in discussing where they were going to get their next tattoos done and who did the best “Eyebrow Weaving” (whatever that is).  I checked my watch and waited patiently for two minutes.  Then I made a small, “Ahem” which they managed to ignore.

Finally, in pure desperation, I said, “Excuse me … would there be someone available to take an order?”  One of them looked at me, obviously annoyed that I had interrupted her conversation with her co-workers and said, “Whaddya want?”

I placed my order and she donned a plastic glove to pull the bagels from the case.  “For here or to go?”  She said this with all the delicacy of a hippo in rut.  I overlooked the fact that most individuals, particularly of my size are unlikely to eat three bagels in one sitting so I politely responded, “They’re to go, please.”

“Do ya wan em sliced?”

“If it wouldn’t be too much trouble, I would appreciate that,” I responded.

She then took my purchase down to the cashier who appeared a bit relieved that she actually had something to do.  As she rang them up I noticed she charged me $1.19 for one of the bagels and $1.29 for the other two.  (Frankly, paying more than $.75 for a bagel is, in my opinion, tantamount to highway robbery.  But I was desperate).

I did question why there was a price difference.  The cashier, armed with the answer to this question went on to explain.

“Well, your ‘Everything Bagel’ is one of our Classic bagels but your ‘Onion’ and ‘Garlic” bagels are Signature bagels.”  Feeling light-hearted that I was soon about to satiate my craving, I responded jokingly, “Well, who signed the bagels and where would I find the signature?”  Needless to say, the humor in this comment was totally lost.  I could see her brain was in a loop as she asked herself a question that had probably crossed her mind many times, “Why do I always get the retards when I’m cashiering?”  As an act of pure compassion I said, don’t worry, I’ll find out for myself.

So I paid for my purchase and slathered lots of cream cheese on my bagel as soon as it popped out of the toaster.  All things considered, I gave the bagel itself about a 6.5 and the overall experience of shopping at Einstein Bros. Bagels about a 3.5.  In other words, it was pretty close to the average of quality and level of service that I have come to find in most retail outlets.

It may be some time until my bagel craving returns.  That is the nature of cravings – they are evanescent.  But I’ve armed myself for its recurrence by finding several recipes for making homemade bagels.  They really don’t sound that tough.  I have all the ingredients but I do need a stylus so that I can sign my work and create my very own “Signature Bagels”.

In the meantime, all the cream cheese that I bought on sale that I thought I would apply over 12 days to the dozen bagels I anticipated purchasing did not go to waste.

You see, I do make a killer cheesecake.


 Although I found no mention of it in the Constitution, most Americans (and I think people elsewhere throughout the world), seem to believe that they have an inalienable right to complain. We exercise that right rather freely.

 While I do not dispute that there are times when we have a valid basis for issuing a complaint, there is a part of the equation that I think many of us complainers overlook. With rights come responsibilities. If we wish to exercise our right to complain we have the correlative responsibility to compliment.

 When I receive excellent service from someone, I always make a point of letting that person know how much I appreciated her help. I also let her boss know how satisfied I was with this employee’s efforts. (Companies need to know that employee performance matters to their customers and which members of their staff are going above and beyond the call of duty).

 Sadly, so many of us take excellent service as our “right” and fail to compliment the individual who provided it.  

Think about this for a minute. Here’s a young woman working in a position which is moderately low-paid. But she loves the company she works for, she enjoys dealing with the public and she wants to provide the best customer service in the world.

 Day after day she does her best, she goes the extra mile – and not even one of the hundreds of people whom she has assisted has said so much as, “Thank you.” After a short while her enthusiasm and commitment to excellent service begins to wane.

 “Why am I busting my hump? No one cares. Not one of my customers has recognized my effort. I might just as well do the average job everyone else here does.” So that starry-eyed employee drifts into the ranks of the mediocre – doing just what’s necessary and no more – if that. And we who failed to acknowledge her efforts are the ones to blame.

 The next time you are ready to launch an all-out frontal attack and unleash a complaint, step back a moment and ask yourself – “Have you fulfilled your inalienable responsibility to compliment?”





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