Albom has real stories of interactions he had with workers in the service industry who can't seem to listen to what the customer (Mitch Albom) is ordering. I have a sneaking suspicion perhaps Albom is just writing about these incidents in preparation for them to actually occur, as he has been found to do on occasion. Either way, Mitch Albom thinks these people suck at their jobs. On the other hand, it's clear Mitch Albom is very impressed with himself.
The flight attendant smiles. "Something to drink?"
"Water, please," I say.
She asks the next guy over, then turns to me again. "Did you say orange juice?" she asks.
There are nine brief stories/interactions included about how a service industry member had to ask Mitch for what he is requesting twice. I don't know about anyone else, but I've only had to repeat myself a few times a year when making an order...at least that I can remember. What's the most disturbing thing about this column to me is Mitch Albom either made these stories up (which I believe he did and I am sure he will be quick to point out he never said he actually had these conversations when this subject is broached to him) or he has held on angrily and bitterly to these conversations for quite some time. Most people when asked twice what they want to request or order simply re-state their request and move on. Mitch Albom makes a note to include this specific event in his upcoming book, "The Ten Service Industry Employees You Will Meet in Hell."
The ticket woman smiles.
"'Men in Black,'" I say.
IMPOSSIBLE! THAT MOVIE CAME OUT IN 1997! STOP ASKING TICKET WOMEN TRICK QUESTIONS!
She nods. She goes to press a button.
"Did you say 'The Avengers'?" she asks.
No, he said "Men in Black," so sell this idiot a ticket to "Men in Black" and then laugh at him when he tries to go to "Men in Black 3." When he nitpicks how those who deal with the public don't pay attention to the details, Mitch Albom gets burned by me for not paying attention to the details either.
The Starbucks fellow smiles.
Then punches Mitch Albom in the face for calling him "The Starbucks fellow." I would start calling Mitch Albom "The Internet writing fellow," but that's a lot of words to use just to make fun of him. Just know, every time I write "Mitch Albom" I am really writing "The Internet writing fellow."
"How can I help you?"
"Medium coffee, room for cream."
He fills a cup. He stares at it.
"Do you want room for cream?" he asks.
"Yes, please." That's the correct answer. The wrong answer is being a douchebag, making up this story, and then blaming a person who works at Starbucks (and takes hundreds of orders a day) for momentarily forgetting if you want room for cream or not.
One time I asked for room for cream when I went to get coffee at Starbucks and THEY DIDN'T EVEN LEAVE ROOM FOR CREAM! I had to dump my coffee out and go ask them to put cream in the coffee. Anyway, after I locked all the doors from the outside, burned the Starbucks to the ground and pissed on the ashes I realized I probably overreacted.
Is it just me?
Yes, most people don't make up interactions they have with people and then write an entire column---I mean hold a grudge over something this small. Clearly, Mitch Albom doesn't have enough on his mind.
Even though Mitch Albom claims differently later in this column, it is clear he has never had to work with the public. Let me update him very quickly. Working with the public is the worst at times. There are members of the public who are so incredibly demanding and difficult to work with you want to strangle them and confess to the crime immediately just so your co-workers can take pride in knowing it was YOU who rid them of having to deal with this person. The public tends to do things like:
-Walk into a store and complain they won't be able to use a coupon that expired two days ago and then have a long, drawn-out story why they couldn't make it to the store two days ago as if WHY they didn't make it to the store is in any way more important than the simple fact the coupon is expired.
-Threaten to slit your throat in the parking lot after you get off work because you dared to catch them stealing something from the store and promptly kicked them out of the store.
-Receive a packet of information in the mail, not read any of the information and then immediately call you wanting you to translate what this packet of information means, including asking questions specifically answered in this packet of information.
-Tell a grocery store clerk he should drop out of college because he can't tell the difference in taste between a Granny Smith and Gala apple, as if the key to success in life is delineating between those who can and can not the taste difference in these type of apples.
I could go on of incidents I have been present for or have happened to me. You get my point. Dealing with the public sucks and dealing with jerks like Mitch Albom, who has a forum to air his petty grievances sucks even worse. I've worked with the public since I was 16years old and at no point have they become less frustrating. So while criticizing a Starbucks employee for having to ask a question twice, just be thankful he got your order right.
Or does no one in the service business listen the first time you speak? It seems that any transaction now requires at least one repeat. Sometimes two.
I rarely have this problem. I'm thinking there may be something inherently wrong with the way Mitch Albom speaks. Most likely, and I'm just spitballing here, these people who Mitch speak to in public watch "Sports Reporters" and have learned to tune his voice out of their minds so they won't have to hear him speak.
Sometimes the person actually walks away, then comes back and says, "Did you say rye toast or sourdough?"
At least they asked what kind of bread you wanted. You can tell this has never happened to Mitch Albom, the way he says "sometimes" like he is talking in general or broad terms. Only a person who has never dealt with the public would make these complaints. I think Mitch Albom's ego gets hurt when it doesn't feel like the world is hanging on every word he says.
And I know it's not volume, because I have been accused of having a voice that can be heard across a football field. But I still get asked, "Medium or large?"
Did this really happen, Mitch? Or is this going to happen in the future and you are just writing about this event in anticipation of it happening?
It's as if people behind the counters are on some kind of autopilot. Their bodies move, their teeth smile, they recite the right lines.
The guy/girl working the deli counter or working at Starbucks probably has a long line to deal with and sometimes he/she forgets what you said because he could be working on two orders at one time.
But they are a thousand miles away.
What's funny is you can read the comments on this article and see what Mitch's "customers" think about his writing. I doubt a Starbucks employee has as many of his "customers" ripping his performance as Mitch has commenters ripping this article.
"What size shoe do you wear?" he asks.
"A 9," I say.
"You want to try those on?"
A size "9?" What size shoe does your husband wear? I'm kidding. I know grown men who wear a size "9" shoe. They are called dwarfs. Again, kidding. Dwarfs wear at least a size "9.5." Yet again, kidding. Shoe size does not make a man, but it does make for bad jokes.
"Nine it is," he says.
Considering every one of these "real" interactions show the same template of interaction, I really doubt they all happened. The template doesn't seem to vary at all with these stories.
I blame TV. I blame video games.
How about blaming the urge the media has to boil a complicated topic down into 1 minute "talking points" that don't sufficiently cover the issue at hand? Mitch would never take place in something like this though, would he?
I blame the mindless blare that our kids have been weaned on, noise, explosions, blasting music, 100 images a minute.
This is very ironic considering Mitch makes part of his living working in the media.
But where is this going? If, as a nation, we cannot stay "on task," what hope do we have?
These service industry employees did stay on task, they just had to ask twice for the order. If repeating a small part of your order becomes an unnecessary burden to do, then you are part of the problem with this nation and not in any way part of the solution. It's annoying to have to repeat yourself, but get over it. This isn't a national issue.
Once, if you took a service job, you were told on the first day "the customer is always right."
It's clear Mitch Albom hasn't had to work with the public in many years. This is still told to an employee who works with the public, which is why all of these people in Mitch's fake stories ensured they got the order correct before fulfilling the order. The customer is not always right. The customer is sometimes wrong and sometimes a real asshole about being wrong. Anyone who has to work with the public knows this. People are mean, demanding, and insulting to you if they don't get exactly what they want the very second they want it. Clearly, Mitch Albom is one of these type of people.
I heard this as a fast-food cook, a janitor, a security guard and an ice cream scooper.
30 years ago. Now, in the age where the public thinks they should get their order cheaper and faster than is humanly possible things have changed some.
Didn't matter if the customers were unreasonable, impatient, rude or snarky. They were spending money. It was your job to make them happy.
I ask this of Mitch Albom, did he get his fucking order? Did he get his coffee, the correct bread he wanted, the right amount of room for cream, the right appetizer, and the right size shoe? If so, shut the hell up. Maybe those people in these completely fictional tales that Mitch is passing off as real should pay better attention, but they worked to and did get the order correct. That's all the matters. If you have to repeat yourself and are so annoyed about this that you write an entire column venting, then that makes you the asshole.
Today, the customer is little more than an annoyance on the other side of the glass, or phone, or counter.
It's probably because some customers treat those doing the job at the grocery store, coffee house or restaurant as if they are pieces of shit. Mitch needs to stop complaining and get real. The public can treat a person absolutely terribly at times. In the past I've had my manhood, ability to raise a child, ability to think above an IQ level of 80, and ethical fortitude (is that such a thing?) questioned because I dared to give a customer an answer he/she didn't like. I have seen a person making six figures with a graduate degree begin crying at the way she was treated by a customer. I could go on and on, no one cares. My point, and what Mitch Albom fails to realize, is many times the public believes they can say or do anything to the employee of a company. They see that employee as little more than an annoyance which prevents them from getting their way when they want it, how they want it. Some customers hear, "The customer is always right," and think it means, "The customer can do or say whatever they want and doesn't have to worry about the repercussions."
"I'm looking for a book. The author's name is Cane."
"OK," she says. "Let me look."
I wait. She types.
"Sorry, we have no books named 'Cane.' "
"But he's a well-known author."
"Wait...Cane is the author?"
Who the hell has someone else look up a book for them at the library like this? There are stations all around the library where you can look for a book on your own. Besides, most of the people who work at my local library are older women who are already retired or just want some income for spending money. They are there to check your books out or shelve books. Look up your own damn book if you have the name of the author and have so much information about what book you are looking for.
It is maddening. Frightening. And kind of sad. Our job concentration is waning, and our dedication is right behind it.
Not everyone has a job that allows them to pick and choose whether they have to interact with other individuals and can choose to ignore any criticism they may receive.
Next time you are in a transaction, count how many times you have to repeat something.
I won't be doing this. I will be looking for Mitch Albom's name on the Internet to make sure some pissed of fry cook spit on his burger or "a Starbucks fellow" intentionally gets his drink order wrong.
The best you can conclude is this: If the devil is in the details, then we have nothing to worry about.
Nobody remembers them.
Like details such as, "Were Jason Richardson and Mateen Cleaves even at the game I wrote in an article they had attended?" Yeah, no one gives a shit about small details anymore do they?
Not every person who works with the public does a great job, but I would rather have my order repeated to me than get the wrong order. It's clear Mitch Albom has contempt for those who work with the public. Not everyone can be a snotty, little brat writer like Mitch.
Also, Mitch's fictional interactions with public service employees aren't a sign this country is going downhill. A sign this country is going downhill is when having to repeat yourself becomes the source of your belief that we are in the midst of a national crisis about the country's dedication to doing work. What a tool.