Saturday, February 25, 2006

a thing that seriously chapped my ass ...

When it comes to dining out, I’m not really a hard guy to please. I like good food. I appreciated a comfortable atmosphere, as well as good, thoughtful service. I like cheap, little hole-in-the wall restaurants. I like greasy spoons, diners, family restaurants, fast food and fine dining — pretty much most places.

It usually takes a lot to put me off a place. I have to have a couple of bad experiences there, as I’m usually willing to give an eatery a second chance, figuring anyone or anyplace can have a bad day once. Some of my friends refuse to eat at places because of bad experiences they have had, but I still eat them because, well, it wasn’t me who had the experiences and I like the food. LOL

For example, a group of us from the office was having lunch at a local steak house once. We all got our food in good order, the servers were friendly and fairly prompt, even though it was packed, and the food was good, or at least not bad. One of my friends had ordered clam chowder and was about 1/3 of the way through it when she came up a very chewy clam. She chewed and chewed and finally spit it into a napkin, to find that it wasn’t a clam but the tip of a rubber glove. Apparently, a prep chef had inadvertently cut it off their hand while preparing soup ingredients.

Now my friend, understandably, was very upset. The manager came over and apologized … but didn’t offer to comp the meal — not for her or any of us. I think we ended up getting a 25-percent discount. She was so pissed off over that — combined with the fact that she’s heard of stories about how other customers (usually white customers) complaining about less nasty experiences got their full meal comped. For example, the chicken wings were cold. What, cold chicken wings? Free meal! What, rubber glove in your soup? Slight discount.

Anyway, I bring this up because of an experience I had on Friday. I was planning to go to one of my favorite places to have a nice, thick steak for lunch, to spend some of my poker winnings. But some co-workers were going to try out a new small little restaurant that basically serves a few kinds of sandwiches and a few kinds of pasta. Eh, what the hell, I thought, I’ll give them a shot.

The restaurant is very near our offices, though the four of us drive anyway, in one of the co-worker’s car. The place looks nice on the inside. It’s clean, it’s very chic and modern looking — great ambiance for a small place. Plus, they didn’t cram things in, so even though it was small it didn’t feel cramped.

The menu is small but interesting. Let me start off by saying that under their list of sandwiches, it clear stated that they charge $1 per substitution.

I decided I was going to try their “Denver” sandwich — roast beef, cheese, tomatoes, onions, lettuce and sprouts on multi-grain bread with a spicy au jus sauce. Sounds good, huh? Well, I don’t like lettuce on sprouts on my sandwich, so I order it like that.

Waitress: “I’m going to have to charge you $2 for the substitutions.”

Me: “Excuse me? You count not putting ingredients on as ‘substitution?’”

Waitress: “Yes.”

Me: “But I’m not substituting anything.”

Waitress: “Well, we have a process for making the sandwiches and when we get really busy (which it WASN’T), it throws things off in the kitchen, so we have to charge $1 for substitutions.”

Me: “I’m actually making it easier for the kitchen. It’s two things less to put on the sandwich.”

Waitress: “Sorry. So would you like the sandwich?”

Me: “No. The coffee’s fine (I’d ordered it beforehand).”

Waitress leaves.

Lunch companions: “What? You’re not going to eat?”

Me: “No. I’m going to drink my coffee, walk back to the office, get in my truck and go get a steak or something.”

Lunch companions: “Come on. Try the pasta. Or take the stuff off the sandwich yourself.”

Me: “No, that’s bullshit. If I was actually making a substitution, I’d pay for it. All I’m asking for is for them to not put something on my sandwich, something I don’t want to eat. Hell, what if I was allergic to one of those ingredients? I would get charged for that? Bullshit.”
So then one of my co-workers calls over one of the owners. He gives us the same spiel — there’s a sandwich process, substitutions fuck up the process, blah, blah, blah. So I repeat my point to him: I’m not making a substitution. After about 3-4 minutes of this, he agrees to have them make the sandwich the way I want it — sans lettuce and sprouts — if I still want it. I say OK, mostly just to avoid dragging out the scene further.

It’s funny, because I get my “special-made” sandwich before everyone else gets their pasta. It’s also a pretty good sandwich. Good ingredients, tasty, etc. The pasta wasn’t too bad either.

But you know what? I don’t see a reason to go back there ever again. I mean, the sandwiches weren’t THAT earth-shatteringly good. And that policy, in terms of how they implement it, is ridiculous. It’s stupid.

Am I being a little petty here? Maybe. But it really pissed me off that fucking much. So if I get in the mood for a sandwich, I’ll head to one of the other sandwich shops/delis/coffee shops that offer sandwiches. Or I’ll just come home to make one of my favorite sammiches in the comfort of my own apartment.

Random Guam Fact Of The Day:
• The Chamorro word for land is “tano.” Taotao tano translates into “people of Guam.” It’s also used if asked you’re what village you are from. For me, I would say, “Guahu si Duane, taotao Anigua,” which means, “My name is Duane, from Anigua.”


Madame X said...

The rubber glove incident? You work for a News Paper for cripes sake!!! You couldn't threaten them with an expose on dirty kitchens or something?? Free meal right there.

Taking stuff off a sandwhich is not subsitution!!
I can't even believe that they argued with you about that?!?!

What the hell ever happened to "the customer is always right"?

I would have walked out no question.

Mike said...

Well...I must say I agree with your assessment on the substitution vs simply not putting an ingredient in the sandwich.

Excellent whine btw to this post...I'm quite envious!

SignGurl said...

I'm with the Madame. I would have walked right out. That IS bullshit!

Like you said, even if it was an incredible sammich, you wouldn't go back because of the trouble.

Snow White said...

Don't those people know, DZER is always right... or at least this time! I've never heard of such nonsense. It almost sounds like they have the sandwiches premade and have to go through a lot of trouble to make one without. I don't blame you for not going back. Or, you could take a big group of people, everyone try to have something removed from your sandwich, and then leave in mass when they tell you no.

idobcool said...

If you were to substitute that restaurant with another... would you be going nowhere to eat nothing?

You should go there again, order them same sandwich and substitute the lettuce & sprouts with one of their most expensive pasta dishes. Why not? It's only a $2 charge, right?

terry said...

oh. my. god.
completely ridiculous.
never go near that place again.

Suze said...

Dzer, what a load of crap. You are perfectly right in what you say. It's like Mc D's over here, they have a set spiel they give when you walk in. If you deviate from that it throws them completely.

Anyway why bother when you make the best sammiches in Guam. LOL.

kathi said...

That's one of the craziest things I've ever heard of...well, not really, but it is stupid. Don't blame you at all, I'd done the same thing.

grainne said...

Are you sure the sandwiches are made on site and not made somewhere else and brought in daily? Regardless it is a idiotic charge. One of the few times, I behave like a diva is when I am eating out...I want what I want, when I want it and servers who know me, know I overtip so I normally get what I want. Every month, they run the opposite of ticked off...put things that people encounter that are good...found glasses, someone helping someone in a grocery store that is short on money, changing someone's tire...sounds silly but instead of doing it once a week here, they are doing it three times a week and could go everyday as there are so many submissions.

Have you ever considered a ticked off column that runs a couple of times a week in the paper? A place where people email things that tick them off...eateries that have poor service, traffic tie ups, neighbors that refuse to keep their kids in their own yards...we have something like that here and it is actually pretty popular.

As for the plastic glove bit...anyone think about the health dept? Nothing makes a eatery stand up and take notice like a spot inspection

SignGurl said...

Is your chapped ass up yet?

Indigo said...

One of my BIGGEST pet peeves is people who can't think outside the box. And what the hell ever happened to service? Now they get paid to do the job, expect tipped well and don't you DARE do anything the makes them have to do one bit more then they figure they want too.

...... no wonder I hate going out anymore.

DZER said...

madame x: we don't use our jobs to threaten ... that would be unethical ... but sometimes I want to LOL

Mike: want some cheese with my whine? There's Swiss, but for an extra $1, you can have cheddar .. heh

jenn: thanks for the support, darlin' :)

snow white: oooh ... now THAT sounds like a plan .... heh

idobecool: LOL ... Yes, I'd like a Denver, but instead of roast beef, I want to subtitute a 2-pound lobster ... LOL

terry: ain't it? and I won't!

suze: I do make a mean sammich, don't I? heh

kathi: I hope the restaurant goes under fast! LOL ... thanks

grainne: I asked that ... and they make them on site ... it's just they have this "process." And I'm a big tipper myself; at most of my usual places, they know me by name, where I like to sit, what I like to drink, and that they will be well compensated for their good service. And I WISH I could do that column ... LOL

jenn: nope; I'm still asleep ;)

prairie girl: it's so hard to find a decent place with good service ... sad.

Shay said...

*shakes tiny fist*
hey you ppl! stop making trouble for our Dzer!