There are two kinds of people when it comes to getting poor food or poor service at a restaurant. Those who complain and those who don’t. I am one of those who don’t.
My Daughter and I had only a couple more days until her brother returned, so I wanted to take her out to dinner again. We went to Ruby Tuesday, one of her favorite places to eat because she likes the Buffalo Chicken wings appetizer. That was fine with me, I like a good burger, and the last time we went, I really enjoyed their Bacon Cheeseburger. That was a few weeks ago. Not so much this last Friday night.
I have never worked serving tables. I imagine it’s a tough job trying to satisfy all kinds of different people. You are basically the “face of the place”, and you have to depend on others to make or break you. It certainly can be rewarding, both financially and mentally if you enjoy meeting and talking with people. I like the money part, not so much the talking with others part. I worked as a bartender for a while, so I understand the working for tips part too. I consider myself to be a good tipper because of that, which works against me most of the time. I always leave a decent tip whether the service was great or terrible.
Our waitress came with a big smile. Not very talkative, but that’s ok with me. We ordered our food, my Daughter the Chicken Wings, and me the Bacon Cheeseburger. I never really give it much thought when they ask me how I would like my burger done. I assume a burger is a burger, and every cook knows how to make one. The waitress asked me how I would like it done, suggesting medium. I thought for a split second and agreed, thinking I like them juicy with a hint of pink in the middle, like I had the last time I was there.
Ruby Tuesdays are slow when it comes to getting your food. I imagine they want you to have a few drinks before you get your meal, that’s a big profit item, but we don’t drink so it magnifies the wait time when you are just drinking water. We finally got our food. As I open my bun to put some Catsup on it, it looks like a burnt piece of leather. You know those thin frozen burgers you get cheap at the store. Throw one on the grill and let it sizzle until the last remaining drop of liquid is gone. Kind of like a slice of a hockey puck. I showed it to my Daughter, because it was so burnt, and she agreed it looked pretty well done for a medium burger. I put the top back on and started to choke it down.
One more thing. I like Blue Cheese on my burger, and the Chicken wing appetizer comes with some for dipping. My Daughter doesn’t like it, so I put it on my burger instead. This Blue Cheese had big pieces of soggy lettuce in it. They must get it out of the salad bar, or keep the leftovers from the day before just for dips. Maybe they think the drunks who order the appetizers won’t notice. I noticed. It softened the tough meat up. I ate it anyway. I was wondering if I was going to get sick from my food on the way home, but I think the piece of meat left devoid of any organic matter counteracted the soggy lettuce and other assorted unnamed pieces of matter in the Blue Cheese.
About halfway through the meal (if you could call it that), the waitress came by and asked how everything was. Now I never say anything, but this time I was going to stand up for myself. I opened the half-eaten burger and said it was not good, it was burnt when I ordered it medium. She took one look, agreed with my assessment, and walked away. I had visions of her talking to the chef and the manager, and coming back apologetically with an offer to get me another, free dessert, pay for the meal, a coupon for next time, all in the name of keeping a customer happy. We saw her 20 minutes later when she brought the bill. She didn’t say a word.
I have been with people who complain about their meal, send it back, and get a replacement. I have also heard stories of the chef getting angry and spitting on that replacement. I don’t want to eat someone else’s spit. For some reason, that always sticks in my mind when faced with that situation, so instead of sending it back and getting a booger on my burger, I just suck it up and keep my mouth shut. It’s too bad because instead of trying to rectify the situation, I just never go back there. Just like now I am never going to go back to Ruby Tuesdays. That not only hurts them (which I secretly want to do) but mainly hurts my Daughter because she likes to eat there.
The waitress seemed uncomfortable when she came back to get my credit card to pay. I think she was nervous about getting stiffed. I know it wasn’t her fault to begin with, but being the customer connection, she should have tried to make it right. I know it’s really my fault for not asking to be satisfied, she can’t read my mind. My, how I like to justify everything. I also imagined she had a family to help feed, worried about losing her job, car payments, rent, maybe deep in debt. The chef might be new, right off the street, and really needed this job. Certainly, I wouldn’t want to get him in trouble. She went home that night and counted her tips. I went home feeling lousy. I left her 20% tip and we walked out.
Of course, I never said a word to my Daughter about it after I showed her the burger. I kept all this thinking to myself. I didn’t want it to affect our night out together. Maybe I missed passing on an important learning lesson. But what would be the lesson? To complain when you don’t get what you want? To accept what is and move on? To demand you get what you pay for? To have empathy for someone dealing with a situation, not their making? To show you are not a pushover? To be grateful for what you have? Not an easy answer and we all have our own opinion about it. Doesn’t matter what I think about it anymore, it is what it is. I am more concerned hat my kids learn to navigate the sometimes puzzling waterways of life.
I guess there will always be two kinds of people. Those who complain, and those who don’t. Let me clarify. Those who complain out loud, and those who don’t.
It was funny that there is an extension to this story. We took a road trip the next day and stopped for lunch, not at Ruby Tuesdays of course. She ordered Chicken wings, I a burger. I learned my lesson and ordered the burger medium rare, specifically more on the rare side. It came very well done. I did what I always do. Kept my mouth shut and choked it down.
I have decided. I either have to stop ordering burgers, or complain and get boogers…...