Have you seen the classic 1989 rom-com ‘When Harry Met Sally’? The ‘Sally’ is Sally Albright, a quirky and loveable character living in NYC and looking for love. Do you remember how she ordered food in restaurants? She was extremely particular and always had to have a variation of what was on the menu. Her reason was “I just want it the way I want it.” In case you have no idea what I am talking about, watch this link:
There is a ‘Sally Albright’ in the life of every person. Someone who is a pain in the neck every time they order. Someone who makes the wait staff cringe every time they walk into their favourite cafe. Think about your family, friends and loved ones. Who is it? If it’s none of them, then it’s probably you.
I have to admit to being a bit of a ‘Sally.’ I would guess that about 75% of the time I don’t order off the menu. I will either ask for something to be changed, omitted, added or sometimes just actually make up what I want. Basically what I am doing is saying to the chef: “You’ve trained, and practiced your craft and probably spent a lot of time working out a menu you’re proud of and think works well. Good on you. I just have a better idea.” And I have to admit that I have sent food back on quite a few occasions if I am not completely satisfied. But I do have to wonder what goes on in the waiter’s mind behind my back when I’m being
difficult specific. I try to make up for it by being very grateful for food & drink delivery and lavish feedback when it’s good – I’m not a monster!
As particular as I can be, there is someone in my life who is much worse – my father. (I should mention that he is happy to be a blog subject and hopes to be included in many more posts. To that end he has suggested, very seriously, that he have the alias of ‘Arnie’. If my husband gets George Clooney, then he feels that he should have ‘Arnie’, a perfectly, legitimately appropriate nickname, in his mind. It’s so ridiculous that it could work. How about I humour him today and try it out? BTW no one else is getting an alias, I’m done.). So anyhoo, Arnie and I often go out for coffee and it’s plain embarrassing listening to his coffee order and the looks on the waiter’s/waitresses faces. It goes something like this, every time… “I’ll have a skim flat white, EXTRA hot, with 2 equals”. Then as s/he is walking off probably rolling their eyes he will call out…. “EXTRA hot please. And don’t forget the equals!” He keeps little equal sachets in his wallet like George Costanza just in case they do, heaven forbid, forget the equal. For years now my family have told him that he is probably drinking burnt coffee. He doesn’t care. Like Sally Albright, he just wants it the way he wants it.
The other day we met up for coffee again and it got a little crazy. He made his usual coffee order as I hung my head and pretended not to know him. The friendly waitress had the audacity to respond extremely politely with “Sure sir, I’ll ask the barista to make the milk as hot as he is able to without burning you.” Arnie replied “OK and then please put it in the microwave.” Not joking. Surprised, she said “we can’t do that, it’s a commercial microwave, it’s against regulation. We aren’t allowed to put a coffee cup in it.” My father was not impressed. The waitress went away and he then went on a tirade, telling my mother and me that this was terrible service, that when he’d done his MBA he’d learnt that the customer is ALWAYS RIGHT. My mother, sick of 43 years of having to listen to this, snapped “So if I go to a restaurant and asked them to serve me meatballs with maggots in them, then they should do it?”. “YES” my father firmly shot back, sticking to his guns although I had to wonder if even he could see his argument was wearing thin. Mum and I both felt that this poor waitress had been hardly done by. We tried to point out to my father that she was very courteous and willing to make his coffee as hot as allowed by LAW. But he was having none of it. His coffee arrived and although it didn’t actually burn a hole in his oesophagus, he deemed it to be acceptably hot. The waitress returned a little later to check that he’d enjoyed his coffee and say she hoped it had been hot enough. He admitted to us that maybe she was in fact ‘OK’, the coffee was pretty hot and he was happy enough generally about the place to declare “I’ll be back”. (*apply Schwarzenegger accent & insert drum beat here*).
Who is the Sally Albright in your life? Is it you? After reflection, do you need to terminate any ordering habits similar to Arnie’s (*drum beat* again). Maybe you don’t care – you also just want it the way you want it and believe that developing a tortured soul is simply an occupational hazard for any good waiter. Or are you the unwitting and embarrassed companion of a ‘Sally’, cringing every time you go out to eat or drink anywhere and hoping the waiter’s malicious spittle doesn’t rebound onto your plate? Wherever you sit, two things are worth remembering:
- The customer is always right.
- …But no one ever looked over at a ‘Sally’s’ loogie laced food and declared “I’ll have what she’s having.”