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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Is It Just Me? Part Two.

So there I am, somewhere around the Indiana-Michigan border, entering a Subways sandwich shop.
For my usually sumptuous Tuna Fish Foot Long Hero.
For you connoisseurs, and I know you're out there, the only proper way to enjoy one of these
Tuna Fish heroes is to have the bread toasted, then have the tuna fish applied cold, then the
lettuce applied cold.
Cold onions are optional.
So I go in there.
There are three young black women working behind the counter.
I do not intend to cast any racial aspersions here.
I have certainly encountered quite a few young white women who were just as arrogant, and ignorant and clueless as this.
One of the young black women is dealing with the one customer who requires service, and is taking her order.
I go up to one of the other black women.
I attempt to place my order.
I get half a sentence out, only to be met with "There IS a line, sir".
I look around.
I see no line.
Only this one woman who is already being served.
I ask the magic question: "Where?"
She replies "Right there. Behind that woman.
To which I say: THAT WOMAN? That's the line?"
To which she replies: "That's right"
This prompts me to say: You mean it takes three of you to take care of this one woman's order?
Not one of you can be spared to take care of MY order?"
To which she replies: "That's how it works at Subway. (pointing) She takes the order, then she makes the sandwich, then I ring up the sale."
So that's how it works at Subway.
Funny, I've been at a whole lot of Subways in my life, and most of them didn't even have three
people working behind the counter.
Black, or women, or otherwise.
And I never encountered this sort of protocol.
But let's assume for a moment that I'd NEVER been inside a Subway before.
And that there was a universal protocol, and that I wasn't aware of it.
And I went to the woman who rings up the sale rather than the one who takes the order.
Is "There IS a line, sir" really the most ingratiating way to encourage further business?
Wouldn't "I'm sorry sir, but that woman takes the orders. You have to start with her first"
make the customer feel less rude and less like an idiot?
Speaking of idiocy, I place my order, and woman #2, the sandwich maker, the specialist, asks me
what kind of bread I'd like.
I tell her "Italian"
Then, in an unprecedented move, she opens the elongated Italian bread and begins dutifully plopping the appropriate number of hunks of tuna into it.
Not asking me if I want the bread toasted.
In all my previous Subway experiences, they have ALWAYS asked me if I wanted the bread toasted.
So I volunteer the information that I want the bread toasted.
She says "Fine" and continues to plop the hunks of tuna onto the untoasted bread.
I point out that at this juncture, she's supposed to ask me if I wanted the tuna toasted along with it.
I had to explain that I didn't, and that this applies to the lettuce as well, because among my
acquaintances, I knew of very few who appreciated hot lettuce.
I ended up with what I wanted, toasted bread, cold tuna, cold lettuce, all not without many moments of disbelief, and then attempted to proceed to the woman who started it all with "There IS a line, sir".
She asked, is there anything else, sir?
I was clearly holding up my unopened bottle of Diet Coke, which she did not look up to notice.
I could have easily said "No" and she wouldn't have been any the wiser.
But I chose to play it by the book, and say, "You might notice that I have a bottle of Diet Coke in
my hand"
She rang it up, along with my sandwich, and I was on my way back to Detroit.
With my opinion of humanity once again lowered.


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  1. Doesn't it also seem that, as they are being trained in this unnecessarily complicated assembly-line system of sandwich construction and payment-taking there should have been some discussion of actual customer service? Or, if there was such discussion and they still feel they can be flexible about being nice to the customer at will, couldn't they then be just as flexible about making the sandwiches?

    By the way, I always get the tuna sandwich at Subways also. Great sandwich.

  2. No, it's not just you. And it's not just women (regardless of race). There are people both in retail and in the service industry who either don't know or don't care how to take care of customers.

    I will say that our local Subway has always given me great service, and they've been johnny-on-the-spot at making sure that the customer gets it their way (and no snotty attitude when they have to do something a little out of the ordinary). I don't normally go there (their bread is a bit too airy for my taste), but on those occasions that I do go there, they seem keenly aware that there is a local, motivated independent sandwich shop two doors down, and they appreciate my business accordingly.

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About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."