Friday, May 31, 2013

Coming out of working in the dish pit

Friday, May 24, 2013

Don't be "That Guy". Nobody likes "That Guy"

First of all, a shout out to small old Filipino ladies for telling off petulant customers.

I walked into a Panda Express late in the evening to grab some dinner for me and the wifey, not knowing that I was about to encounter a grade A douche bag. The line wasn't that long, but it wasn't moving because the chow mein had just run out. Whatever, I wasn't in a hurry. Besides, fresh chow mein is always worth the wait.

Not for a guy in front of me apparently.

This guy.....he was a piece of work. He starts loudly complaining to me and another guy about how the service is so bad and how we're being made to wait an eternity for the chow mein. Should they have started making another batch of chow mein sooner? Yes, but it's not like I'm eating at The Chef's Table or anything. This guy, we'll call him the Jerkwad, then starts proclaiming to the restaurant that everyone waiting in this long line (apparently 3 people is a long line) deserved a 10% discount. Suddenly, I found myself being thrown together with this guy with the looks we were getting. I immediately told the girl behind the counter that I had only been waiting 30 seconds, and I didn't mind waiting longer. If the Jerkwad has any British ancestry, they would be disgusted at his inability to stand in a queue and behave.

Then there was this poor girl behind the counter. She has apparently worked in the Cougareat (Cougar-eat) for a while, but not in a restaurant dealing with mostly non-BYU customers. The Jerkwad decides that he's going to demand a discount from this girl since it's clear that she hasn't been working there for long. After getting nowhere (because you know, EVERY employee can obviously give discounts without getting fired.), he decides that he's going to then go at the small Filipino lady.

Boy that didn't work out.

Jerkwad: I want a discount for being made to wait for so long!
Old lady: Not happening
Jerkwad: I'm a paying customer! I don't have to come here and deal with this!
Old lady: Ok then, good bye.

She then walked away with his food. That's it. End of conversation. She completely stopped the Jerkwad dead in his tracks. He then stormed out of the place, fuming at this injustice that life had dealt him.

Seriously, don't be that guy. Especially at a cheap fast food place. They don't get paid enough to deal with your crap.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Bad service: Should you just get over it?

Short answer: No
Long Answer: Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo 

If you haven't been following the train wreck that is Amy's Baking Company, boy are you missing out. Here's a page that will explain everything - Link. I've been keeping tabs on this since just before the season finale of Kitchen Nightmares aired with anticipation. Now that they've hired a PR firm to put out their fires, the madness has slowed down tremendously. I wonder how long the PR firm is going to stick around, since they have such a good Track record with consultants.

So this is an extreme case of what people do when customers complain. Did the customers have a right to complain? Absolutely. Is the customer always right? No. In this case, this restaurant is a perfect example of how NOT to deal with upset customers.

This will mostly address whether you should complain or not. Most people won't complain if there's an issue, and some who do aren't able to effectively communicate their problem.


If you're thinking about complaining about service, think about the circumstances. In an extremely busy restaurant that also happens to be understaffed, you're not going to get good service. This isn't some evil plot to ignore you, it's just a matter of fact that the staff are overloaded and are doing the best that they can. If you want faster service, survey how busy the place is and get a look to see if the servers are struggling to handle the load. If that's the case, either go somewhere else, or just enjoy the company of who you're with, and plan on staying there for a while. If you do decide to stick it out, by no means should you penalize them tip-wise. YOU'RE the one who decided to add to their load by showing up.

Now if the place isn't jam packed, or there are adequate staff to see to everyone's needs, then you can be more discerning. I've been seated at a table only to be forgotten while you hear the staff in the next room talk about their weekend plans. You need to communicate that it's not okay. How the restaurant responds to that complaint is another story, but you are well within your right to point out an issue. Any manager worth a damn will acknowledge that there's a problem, and work to fix it instead of appeasing you with free food.

If the attitude of the server is an issue, remember: you're paying for this! You don't have to put up with it. You can ask for a different server, or you can go eat somewhere else. If you want to avoid conflict, you can either fill out a customer service card, or don't leave a tip. DO NOT DEMAND FREE FOOD!!!!! This is a personal peeve of mine. Free food fixes nothing, and is just a way to get you to shut up. Fix the problem! don't just cover it up and hope it fixes itself.

To finish this off, let's talk about good service. If you get a server who is attentive, but not overbearing, knowledgeable, helpful, and a pleasure to be around, you should reward them. Good staff work their butts off to make you happy, with some going far beyond their pay grade as well as what the restaurant expects of them. This is America; reward good service. If you can't leave a very big tip, ask for the manager and complement your server to him/her. Fill out the customer service form and refer to your server by name in your compliment. It's not an easy job, and those who are good at it deserve praise and tips.

So remember, don't pay for bad service! But also remember to reward good servers and staff who make your stay more enjoyable.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

All Hail our new Overlords!

How are we all not dead?

Compared to a lot of other countries, the US has a decent track record of making our food supply healthier. Its inception was in response to contaminated and misbranded foods and medicine being distributed across state boundaries. Before then, if I wanted to make "TiChef's marvelous malediction medicine" (Patent pending), the medicine wouldn't have had to go through any rigorous federal testing or inspection for distribution. If I could sell the product well enough, then people would THINK they were getting a miracle cure. Instead though, it would just be an assorted concoction of liquids that were just laying around. If the sales pitch were good enough, placebo would kick in for early adopters, making them spread by word of mouth that my product was a miracle in a bottle.

After a while, especially if I didn't care about sanitation, people would get sick. Some would even die because of no oversight nor any real testing. I could just pack up my things, move to a different area, make the same thing, and just give it a different name! After many events like this, laws were put into place, with some of them being 25 years in the making! (And you thought congress got nothing done these days). Eventually, the FDA in the form we're familiar with was created in 1906. In 1930, it was given the name we know now.

So we're all safe and we're never going to get food poisoning again, right?


Due to an incredible lack of resources, the FDA only inspects about 2% of our food. So how come we're all not dead? In 2011, over 120,000 people were hospitalized for food borne illnesses, with just over 3,000 dying. I know that sounds like a lot, but realize that 3000 is only 1/100000 of the US population. Back in 1906, 1/100000 of the population would be 855 people. While the numbers wildly vary on this sort of thing, I would guess that far more than 855 people a year died from food borne illness 107 years ago.

With that in mind, the food industry has taken it upon itself to inspect their own food. I can't help but think it's just a slight conflict of interest, and there are already cases of it not being effective.

The Food and Drug Administration is the government institution that is supposed to keep us safe from food borne illnesses; yet it's hardly able to do the job it's supposed to. Why isn't this as big of a deal now as it was in the past? I have a few ideas on this.

  • Healthcare has improved to help people recover from food borne illnesses.
  • Believe it or not, poisoning people is actually BAD for business! Who knew? If you poison people, they just might not buy your product again. And then you go broke, woe is you.
Being that we're mostly still here and not dead from food borne illnesses, I'd say we could be doing worse. But we could be doing much better as well.