Salt and Pepper

The chaps are oft brought to write about observations they see, read and hear. This piece is different. This piece is a simple story of a real-life experience. That said – as always – we hope the opinion seeps through!

This chap won’t name the place, to protect the innocent. Suffice to say, a restaurant known for their breakfast and highly rated at that.

Breakfast served, and this chap asked if he could get some Salt and Pepper.

Once the waiter understood that when asking for Salt and Pepper, this chap meant that he would like some Salt and Pepper, said waiter wandered off (this chap assumed) to get some Salt and Pepper.

The chap watched the waiter walk all around the restaurant looking (again – just an assumption) for the Salt and Pepper.

They eventually circled back, passing this chap by without saying anything and disappeared into the kitchen.

The waiter then merged from the kitchen (sans Salt and Pepper), circled the restaurant once more and returned to the starting point (that would be where the chap was stationed) … without Salt and Pepper.

“I am sorry,” they said, “but all the Salt and Pepper is being used at the moment.”

Let’s record for posterity that this chap was (to say the least) more than a little perplexed. He gazed around, fully expecting to see at that very moment the entire establishment’s clientele tipping Salt and Pepper onto their breakfasts.

They weren’t. This chap was doubly perplexed – fast moving into ‘non-plussed’.

This chap pointed out that even if someone was at that time pouring Salt and Pepper onto their Breakfast, within a few seconds, they would likely have completed the task and could then be asked if they had any further use for the Salt and Pepper.

Then, if as he suspected, that they wouldn’t, they could then be relieved of their cellars and this chap could be given an opportunity to benefit from the contents.

A blank stare was the best the waiter could muster before moving off at which point a second person approached me and asked if I needed anything.

“Yes please”, I responded, “I would like some Salt and Pepper.”

They said nothing, looked around and disappeared into the kitchen.

And then a third person approached and asked if I needed anything.

“Yes please”, I responded, “I would like some Salt and Pepper.”

This person also dutifully wandered off and have to say that within seconds, the second person (keep up) returned with a cellar of salt and a cellar of pepper.

Thank you. I said. And proceeded to tip Salt and Pepper onto my breakfast.

Correction … attempted to.

Both cellars failed to deliver either Salt or Pepper.

I looked at the second person, who I had now identified as the manager who apologized and wandered off to find another pair of cellars.

And as if the whole show had been choreographed as a West End farce worthy of Brian Rix … the third person, right on cue, emerged from the kitchen with pepper in bowl and salt in cellar.

Experimentation was rapid with the salt flowing from the cellar and the pepper sprinkling with joy.

During which process, person two (the manager) returned with two more Salt and Pepper Cellars. (to be clear … that is two more salt cellars and two more pepper cellars.)

Just for kicks, sure … why not?

Pepper came out of the Pepper cellars, but Salt still failed to flow from the Salt cellars.

According to person two … the manager … person one was ‘in training’, which was why she – for a ‘she’ she indeed was – didn’t quite ‘grok’ (my word) my request.

Perhaps she thought you were asking her to change the music?

I doubt it, I would estimate that she was born a little after this particular musical(?) offering wafted its way into public discourse.

There was discourse?

Ok – wrong word- you know what I mean. Meanwhile …

This chap chose not to explore why a waiter needed to be trained to understand that when a customer asks for Salt and Pepper – it is close to a 100% certainty (and well within Six Sigma Quality measures) that said customer is probably looking for some Salt and Pepper to be brought. Instead he asked; “Maybe they missed the Salt and Pepper training day?”.

Meanwhile, this chap went on highlighting that though he now had a total of three salt cellars provided by the manager, we were still ‘three for three’ on failure to deliver the actual salt – the chap couldn’t resist reminding the manager that it was indeed salt he had requested – not a salt cellar.

One more apology delivered, with a mutter that she didn’t understand why this happened – but it happened a lot.

Person three, who turned out to be the barman hadn’t been trained, he just seemed to have an innate understanding of Salt and Pepper.

“I’ve told them so many times,” he said, just add rice into the cellar, it cuts down the damp, so the salt doesn’t congeal and it can pass through the top.

“Why?” this chap asked “was the barman not the manager?

“Nah he said … increase my hours, increase my responsibility, increase my workload, reduce my interaction with my customers and slash my earnings – I might be a barman – but I am not stupid!”

All well and good …. but this chap has questions. Should this chap have …

    • tipped the original waiter? If so … as much as usual … or should a deduction have been made to allow for the fact that Salt and Pepper … a pretty fundamental pair of ingredients in any restaurant I would say … was not understood, let alone delivered.
    • tipped the barman?
      • if so – more or less than the expected amount?
    • explained to the manager that a failure of a waiter not understanding something through lack of training is actually a failure of management – and thus her – not the waiter in question?
    • written to the restaurant and complained?
      • and if so to who?
    • posted a nasty comment on their Yelp page?
    • named them in this blog post and then posted a link to the post on their social media pages?

For full transparency, he tipped the ‘expected’ 15% – so that the waitress did not suffer (and that expectation is another issue I have that will be written about one day) … and complained to the manager – highlighting the brilliance of the barman and reprimanding her and the restaurant for their blame pushing, lack of training and bad recruiting.

And no – there was no financial offset offered for the experience, no ‘have the next breakfast/latte on us’ next time you come by … nothing … basically, she wanted this chap gone … and one final piece of clarity – no I did not converse with her in the style recorded here – the style and words changed to be in the style of the chaps – with what we hope is our usual humor.

Onwards.

Indeed. So difficult to find good staff these days. Ask any of the customers featured in Not Always Right, that most excellent site filled to the brim with tales of customers far too demanding by half. Or worse…

New one on me – I track Clients From Hell .. similar concept.

That being grahamsaid…

It must be late where Graham is. What else would excuse the obscure HTML-based jokes that only we can see?

That being said, if you must — a while ago, I went to a coffee shop on Maui — an independent one, not a chain, with a nice sideline in kava. It was early morning. I ordered a coffee, and asked for sugar.
“Sorry,” said the server. “We’re out of sugar.”

Out of sugar. Ah, yes, I thought. I feel your frustration. If only there were — I’m just spitballing here — oh, places that actually sold sugar — convenient, neighborhood dispensaries, or small sub-warehouses, located in neighborhood streets. Why, they could even sell coffee too, that you could make at home. In such an ideal world an enterprising establishment might never again have to face the heartbreak and shame of running out of sugar.
Being an English chap, this chap said nothing, of course.

But I did think of this little gem from our inspiration and mentor, Peter Sellers.

Perhaps the establishments were related? But as always seems to happen on these back and forths – reminded me of this clip ..

BTW – interesting side note, this scene was filmed in a Denny’s on the side of the I5 … waaaay up in Eugene, Oregon … this chap having just returned from a road trip up there, can confirm that the Dennys is still standing and operating. You might also enjoy this little bit of behind the scenes footage from 1969