Sure. It happens. You go through your daily routines and habits without incident. You’re cognizant of civility and manners, because your Momma raised you right. Right? But then, here comes one of those times you just aren’t aware of the offense you committed, and someone calls you out on it.
Over the weekend I slid through a Taco Bell to get some sustenance en route to the radio station to do some fill-in voice work and Irene coverage. I was starving. Figured a couple of burritos would fit in my saddle bags just right. Far be it that I should get a lesson in manners from a mouth breathing youngster behind the counter at Taco Bell, but the attempt was made and there was some success.
I was on my motorcycle grabbing a slice of Charlotte weather beauty while the East Coast was getting hammered by a hurricane. After parking, I walked in to the store carrying my helmet and gloves – skull cap on my head. There was only me and another gentleman at the counter, and he had just finished ordering.
Jarrell had a presence behind the counter. He was clearly that person in the room I often refer to as the “Cruise Director”; in control, micro manager, knows everything, opinionated, often louder than others, seemingly confident in themselves but overcompensating for the insecurities by commanding a “look at me, I’m different” attitude, followed by the need for a pat on the back. It was obvious this kid (I’d peg him to be about 17 years old), was sure of his place in life and at this store, and I assure you it was a much higher level than reality.
“May I take your order”, Jarrell asks.
“Two Burrito Supreme’s to go”, I said.
“Five sixty six.”
My hands were rather full. I fumbled my helmet and gloves onto the counter and then through my money clip for the nearest combination of bills. I laid a five and a one on the counter, fanned them so he could see them and slid them across the counter to him.
“Out of six”, I said.
He processed the sale, retrieved the change and receipt, then laid them on the counter just to the rear right of the register.
“Thirty four cents is your change.”
Not near me. Near him. Like he was waiting on my order or he was saving it for something.
It suddenly struck me that he didn’t offer the change to me. He just set it on the counter. Then walked away to get my order filled.
When he came back by I reached across the counter and intentionally exaggerated the sweep of the coins into my hand as if I was cleaning up crumbs. I was hopeful he’d pick up on the awkwardness of my reaching across a counter to the backside of the register.
“You really should offer the change to the customer by putting it in their hands”, I offered.
“Oh, like you should’ve done to me”, he confidently quips.
I smiled. “Touché“.
As I stood off to the side awaiting my food, I considered asking for the manager so they’d be aware of the smartass working the front lines, but instead decided to just leave it alone.
Jarrell announced to the audience of one (me), over the microphone, “Burrito Supreme to go”.
I walked up and lying on the counter in a bag was my order.
“You sure you don’t want to hand my order to the customer”? My parting shot.
I did call the store this morning and talk to the Manager. Her name and phone number was on the receipt…as was his. I calmly told her what had happened. I asked her if I was wrong. She said she could understand how Jarrell might have felt. Wait! What? Really?
I told her the purpose of my call was so she could remind young Jarrell of his purpose as a front line greeter; to meet and exceed the customer’s experience and expectations. Not to teach them a lesson in manners based on what he feels is improper etiquette.
She said she’d talk to him.
So Jarrell won. He got me thinking. Was I wrong? Did I insult him? Was I disrespectful? I didn’t throw the money at him. I actually thought I was being helpful by fanning the bills out, sliding them close to him and confirming what I had given him. It bothered me all weekend.
Jarrell, you’re a twit. And I stand corrected.