Dec 27 2013

My Lunch Break or How to Run a Lunch Counter Without Really Trying.

Category: Daily Drivel,Leica MonkeysRandall Kelley @ 16:51

I took my camera this morning as I went out to grab more tea, as I was hoping the light might be similar to what I missed yesterday. It wasn’t quite as nice, but it was close. I was circling the building to see what other reflections I could get, when I remembered I had no cash on me for lunch. I was thinking I’d just grab something at Warbux but they really do not have any good sandwiches left after their “upgrade” to their new fancy arse vendor. But then I figured it was close enough I’d swing by the stadium where there is a bank machine (of my brand) and grab some cash so I could get something better.

There is a high end custom butcher shop, Rain Shadow Meats, next to the Warbux I go to, and they sell sandwiches as well. I had been there once before to grab some chorizo for home and that time I grabbed the lambwich of theirs. That experience was a pretty slow one, but the sandwich had been pretty tasty, so I decided to give them a second try today. It’s arranged like a fast food deli, but as I found out today, it’s far from fast due to the woman at the counter. So here is my (not quick) how to on how NOT to work the counter.

I grab the menu out front and make my decision as I walk up to the counter. I’m going to try the Mexican chorizo link sandwich, as the batch I had at home was very good. There is one customer being waited on at the till, and the woman helping her says, “I’ll be with you in a minute.” So far, so good. She is just handing the customer the check to “Sign here.” Great, this should be quick.

Only instead of asking me what I want, she stands and stares at the customer as they look at the price, sign the check, dig for their purse, put the receipt away. And by the time she observes all this, the cook is telling her the sandwich is ready. (They are handmade and they say to expect a 10 minute wait.) So the cashier goes to get the sandwich, and checks to see if they need a bag (they also had some packages of meat to go). She then goes and gets the bag returns and watches as the customer packs it. Then turn and walks away.

I didn’t really see what she went to do, I think she had either accidentally pulled two bags and was replacing one, or thought the pile was messy and was rearranging it, as she took about a minute rustling the bags before returning. Finally, it’s my turn and I order. She takes about a minute figuring the price, ringing it up, making small talk observations, and then finally takes my twenty. It then takes about the same time to count out my change. She then, finally, goes over to the cook to give him the order. The cook, by the way, has been finished and waiting since he handed out the last sandwich. At this point I step back against the wall to wait, trying to not make eye contact as I’m sure the fact I’m visualizing strangling her is obvious in my eyes.

So, I distract myself by watching the cook assemble the sandwich in a fast and efficient manner, thinking, “Great he’s done!” He calls for service, but the cashier is standing down at the meat counter staring at a booklet on a string for about a minute. Then I realize she’s trying to determine what to set the scale at, as she’s weighing a cut of meat for someone. OK. That’s legitimate, I cool down a bit after I realize she isn’t really just staring at a book (Though I can’t imagine that with as few cuts as they sell it should really take that long to find the price).

So, after spending as much time wrapping the meat and labeling it as Santa did on all the presents for North Dakota, she heads back to the counter with that package. Great! She’s already been alerted that my sandwich is waiting, and I’ve moved back to the counter right next to her with my little number placard plainly in view. What could go wrong?

Does she grab my sandwich, and hand it to me on the way? Noooooo! That would be TOO fast. Instead she takes the cut of meat to the person who is getting it and starts ringing them up. Then the phone rings and she answers it. At that point as coworker comes in with coffee and I’m thinking, OK more help. But he walks back to the back. She is still working on the other guys order. The new staff person comes up and she hands him the phone that she put on hold earlier and tells him someone wants to call in an order to go. He takes that order and turns it in. She’s still ringing the same guy up (and making small talk). Finally after the second staff member is done turning the phone order in, he looks at my sandwich, the check, looks at me NEXT to the cash register with my conspicuously flashing number placard (that I’ve been imagining using as a weapon ever since she went to the till without dropping my sandwich). New guy then walks off again.

I wait some more until she finally finishes with the new customer (there are now four more in line and she has just finished with the one who was next after me). Then as she is getting ready to turn to the next customer, I clear my throat and she looks over (I’m two feet away), but before she can figure out what I’m there for the guy comes back up from the back, again sees the sandwich, and, having heard me clearing my throat and then noticing the number placard I’m now tapping on the counter, HE goes and grabs it and hands it to me.

His timing was fantastic, as it saved me a long prison term.

To be fair, they warn of 10 minutes and it wasn’t more than a few minutes more than that. But really, the original 10 promised was pretty much all her incompetence as the actual “place order and make sandwich” time was about two and a half minutes, maybe three tops. Had I gone to either of the Asian deli’s nearby, a two and a half minute order might have taken three and a half, IF they were swamped. But I am weird and curmudgeonly about this stuff. I’d happily wait 10 minutes for food this good if it was really 10 minutes worth of work going on, but to stand and watch while seven minutes are WASTED… I now know why those to go order are coming in by phone. Sad part is if there is anyone at the counter when you get there it will still take 6 or 8 minutes to pick up you premade sandwich.

Thanks for allowing me to vent. So much less self-destructive than the homicide I was contemplating at the time. A small set of my pictures from today (of just the one building) are POSTED HERE.

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