It’s 10:00 AM. No Waffles for YOU!

No Waffles for You!

I am a lazy clerk’s nightmare. I am the bane of the rude telephone help center operator. I am the scourge of idiot salespeople.

To be fair, I could be worse. I don’t throw fits. I don’t make scenes. But I do tattle. I am of the belief that if no one tattles, the problem I encountered will not get solved and someone else will be slapped in the face with it later. (Also to be fair, I tattle when I’m impressed as easily as I do when I’m unimpressed. I think people who do a great job should be rewarded for that.)

If I wasn’t so young, I’d say I must come from the Old School of Customer Service, where having some customer service skills was actually important. Back In My Day, people treated you right! But no… there have been people doling out bad service as long as I can remember. I truly believe that I was never one of them. All my first jobs were in retail and sales, and somehow, I found bosses who cared whether I was friendly and polite. They trained me in making customers happy and why that was so important. As a result, I have no patience with people who can’t be bothered to help me out.

We are currently on the Madison stop of our Epic Voyage Across the Midwest. We stayed in a Super 8 Hotel last night, and I was delighted by the stay because it was a very good value for the money, quite clean, and everyone we spoke with last evening was friendly and helpful. All in all, the Madison Super 8 gets high marks.

This morning, however, I ran into a shining example of What Not To Do at the continental breakfast. Fortunately, I wasn’t the recipient of the irritating incident, but I found it so surprising, I have to share anyway.

Continental breakfasts, as a rule, end at 10:00. Checkout is at 11:00, so that makes plenty of sense. Since this is a lazy part of the vacation, Dustin and I didn’t make it downstairs until 9:50, which was just fine. It was nothing special as far as continental breakfasts go: a couple cereal options, a plastic dome full of toastables, a couple waffle makers, coffee, juice, etc. I took some cereal and tea and settled down.

Ten minutes later, at 10:00 on the nose, the gal from the front desk came around and started cleaning up. Just as she unplugged the waffle makers – just! – a gentleman came down and asked if he’d missed his chance for a waffle.

“Oh, well, I just unplugged them,” the clerk says. “It’ll take them ten minutes to warm up. But you can help yourself to anything else over there.”

I had a hard time not dropping my Rice Krispies-filled jaw at this. She had just unplugged the waffle irons. We had, all three of us, watched her do it. There would not be ten minutes of heating up involved. They were still quite hot enough to burn a body. The gentleman pointed this out.

The clerk, looking annoyed, replied: “I really need to get these cleaned up.” And that was the end of the discussion. The man, graceful in defeat, grabbed a cold, stale pastry instead.

Now tell me. Is 10:00 a sacred hour? If those waffle irons aren’t put away by 10:10 on the nose, would the desk clerk lose her job? Would it have been a terrible inconvenience to plug one of the irons back in, let the man take 5 minutes to make his waffle, and start clearing up on the other end of the little buffet? What did she really gain by denying him his waffle, other than irritating him and – unknown to her – me too?

Sure, there have to be limits. If you have 50 people who want waffles and don’t come down until 10:00, that’s more difficult. Allow me to make a suggestion: let them make waffles until the pre-filled cups of batter are gone. It’s a tidy solution. “I’m really sorry… this late in the morning I can’t make up any more batter, but perhaps you’d like some toast instead?” By the time the lucky ones are done making their waffles, you can have the rest of breakfast cleaned up and that only leaves one little project to finish up while all the diners slurp their coffee.

But there weren’t 50 waffle-crazed fiends. Just one lonely guy who wanted one lonely waffle.

A little inconvenience on the part of someone who spends most of her shift reading newspapers is certainly worth the price of two customers who might not return.

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