Sunday, October 5, 2008


As a restaurant manager, one of my essential responsibilities is to ensure guest satisfaction through what is called the "table visit". This is the moment where I actually get to make a connection with my customers, although it can be a bit of a gamble. Sometimes people have no interest whatsoever in talking to me. Other times they are very outgoing and we indulge in several minutes of pleasant, even enriching conversation. Yet, occasionally, I chance upon a personality so deformed and vapid as to actually cause a chafing to my psyche, invoking my flight mechanism which must then be suppressed for fear of offending a potentially lucrative although utterly detestable customer. This was the case with The Repeater.

My innocent opening question was met with a puzzling retort. "The food is great, but we think the quesadillas are a little overpriced," replied the man in a mild southern drawl. Little did I know that this would be the opening of the floodgate for The Repeater. "Yeah, nine ninety-nine is a little expensive for only four quesadillas." The Midwest accent was like an icepick through my hearing canal. "If there was six of 'em, or if it was two dollars less it would be better."

I should explain that the Shredded Beef Quesadillas are comprised of a quarter pound of roast beef, a cup of shredded cheese, a quarter cup of pico de gallo, and three ounces of salsa garnished with lettuce and sour cream. All of this is placed into a twelve inch tortilla, folded in half, grilled, and then cut into four pieces.

"Like the potato skins... there's six of 'em and they're only six ninety-nine." she continued. "So if there were more quesadillas, or they were cheaper, I'd order it again." As she spoke I likened her to a cross between a pug and a goldfish; big, bulging eyes, upturned nose, and a mouth that could only look good with a hook in it. She wasn't fat but appeared to have been overinflated, perhaps with a bicycle pump. And those eyes... huge protruding orbs that could only have been held in place by ocular nerves stretched as tight as guitar strings. They looked like a knot on the side of a tire, and I was sure they would explode at any moment from her piercing, shrill Michigan speech.

"When we ordered 'em, I said, 'Nine ninety-nine! I bet there's only four of 'em for that' and I was right. But if there was two more, or they were two dollars cheaper, then that would be worth it."

I could feel the blood drain from my head as I tried to demonstrate my comprehension of the situation by feebly stating, "So you just don't see the value of that dish at that price. I understand."

"Yeah, I mean, either put more of 'em, or lower the price. Either put six of 'em, or charge two dollars less."

"But they were cooked correctly and they tasted great, right?" I had to get out of there before I lost my cool and snatched an eyeball from her head with my bare hands.

"Oh, yeah, they were great. Like I said, there should just either be more of 'em, or they should cost less. If they were two dollars cheaper, or if there was two more of 'em, it would be fine."

Luckily, the man interjected that they eat out all the time, so they are prone to see things that we as managers, being so busy and all, just don't have time to observe. He then inquired about more fruit based desserts, informing me that they frequently go to Shoney's to enjoy a slice of Strawberry Pie or a delicious Hot Fudge Cake. (Apparently, Vanilla ice cream is considered a fruit only when wedged between two layers of chocolate cake and ladled with hot fudge.) He also added that in Michigan, where The Repeater was from, they still have Big Boy restaurants and still offer a smoking section. This pitiful banter was a welcome relief from the "two more or two less" refrain of the bulbous-eyed Repeater.

But at the mention of the size of one of my competitor's quesadillas, The Repeater struck her chord once again. "Yeah, like I said, either put two more quesadillas on there, or just lower the price by two dollars. Otherwise they were fine."

My nerves were unravelling like a rope bridge in an adventure movie when the man suggested we divide the restaurant into "children or non-children sections". Reaching my limit, I put on my brightest smile and tried to sound sincere as I said, "That's a great idea! You know, you guys should really open up your own restaurant!" As I turned and walked away, I completed my thought, "So you would know what it's like to deal with idiots for a living!"


Da Vintner said...

Next time they come in, cut the quesadilla into six pieces. That should make 'em happy.

RJA said...

Seriously, Blaine, just add two more quesadillas, or at least lower the price by two dollars.

The Saucier said...

I think if it were a little cheaper, maybe by two dollars, or if you just gave them two additional quesadillas, either way, that might be better.