Thursday, December 11, 2014

An Evening at Arby's



It was a Saturday evening and my wife suggested we stop in for a reasonably-priced dinner at our local Arby’s roast beef emporium. As we entered the dining area to order, I noticed that the only other patrons were an older gentleman and his female companion. I probably wouldn’t have noticed them at all except she was wearing a housecoat and slippers which I interpreted as either a carryover from the previous evening or a harbinger for the one to come.
My wife, my son, and I stood at the register for several minutes while a young female employee attempted to mitigate a romantic crisis via phone call while standing watch over the deep-fryer. She acknowledged our presence, but continued to insist to the caller that the subject of their conversation has “made his choice” and dismissed his “Snap-chat foolishness” as further evidence of his immaturity. The employee then nodded silently for several seconds as her confidant undoubtedly offered the requisite sympathy and encouraged her to pursue a paramour less inclined to digital philandering.  

Just as we were about to turn and leave, she ended the call with a promise to keep her friend updated and walked over to the register to take our order. Making no mention of her recent heartbreak, she rang us up and promised that our food would be ready shortly. I thought about asking her if the manager on duty allowed them to avoid customers while making long personal phone calls, but I was afraid that doing so might result in my sandwich taking a detour down someone’s underpants.

I settled my wife and son into a booth and went to retrieve our tray, but when I got to the table my wife noticed that the milk that came with the kid’s meal had already been opened and was half-empty. Someone had even written “coffee creamer” on the side of the bottle with a Sharpie. My wife was incensed that someone would attempt to give our child a potentially tainted half-empty dairy beverage and I was incensed that they had the nerve to charge me full price for the privilege.

I approached the register and politely requested a replacement drink. When I showed her the writing on the side of the container she shook her head in disgust and loudly announced that she was going to get to the bottom of this travesty and “write somebody up.” It was at this point I realized that she was the manager on duty and therefore, the highest level of authority I could appeal to at this point in time.  

She apologized profusely and again vaguely promised some sort of retribution on my behalf while handing me a replacement from the cooler. Finally in possession of a factory-sealed 2% milk, I walked back over to our table and began consuming my Beef N’ Cheddar while she filled out paperwork on her clipboard by the register. Then, apparently responding to a comment from another employee, she loudly suggested that he “shut the f**K up!”

Almost choking on my curly-fry, I glanced up from my meal at the exact same moment she realized that she was managing a fast food restaurant and not captaining a river-barge. She caught my eye and mouthed an apology, but by this time we were the only customers left and it wouldn’t have surprised me if an employee decided to remove their pants and do a line of coke off the condiments bar. It was like Lord of the Flies in this place.

Fortunately, my son didn’t visibly react to the outburst which means either it did not affect him at all or he immediately internalized the vulgarity and it will subconsciously fester until he commits his first felony. The sad thing is that the young lady was genuinely friendly and approachable. She simply needed a little polish before pursuing a corporate position. Perhaps Arby’s could fund a short course on what not to say in front of customers. Avoiding the F-word and phrases like “I am not convinced that refrigerating meat is necessary” can go a long way toward generating repeat customers and revenue growth.  
  

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