On a recent trip to Florida, my husband and I stopped at a Waffle House for breakfast. As we walked up to the iconic yellow building, a smiling employee held the door open and greeted us pleasantly with menus in hand.
They were busy and there was a wait for either a table or a booth, so we sat at the counter. We had no idea what we were going to experience; this was the first visit to a Waffle House for both of us.
Our servers – actually, all the employees – were smiling, pleasant, and seemed to be enjoying working with each other and interacting with the customers. We were happily watching how efficient they all were, and how they assisted each other in seemingly small ways. The restaurant had a buzz, a general overall positive, almost exuberant, feel.
After we ordered, a sour-looking stick of a man walked in from the back. The entire atmosphere changed in an instant.
He proceeded to butt into each and every station and activity, scolding along the way. We didn’t need to see his name tag to know he was the manager. He made sure, through his actions and body language, that everyone in the place knew it. Even the poor person doing the dishes (employee “since 1997”) got a lesson on stacking the dishes the “right” way.
Meanwhile, a customer entered the restaurant to place an order to go. She wanted to be sure the steak she ordered was well done, but not burnt. When this manager shouted the ticket out to the cook, he translated the instructions to “medium well.”
This was a small restaurant, and we were all right there, including the customer who ordered. She spoke up right away, “Well done, no pink, but not burnt.” The manager ignored her. The employee manning the dishes (directly in front of us) turned around and repeated the customer’s instructions to the manager. He obviously resented the correction and scolded her, telling her that was exactly what he’d said. When she turned back towards us, she rolled her eyes. The cook overheard the entire exchange, and I do believe the customer received what she wanted – no thanks to the manager.
After paying our bill (less than $20) and leaving a sizeable tip ($10) for the great service, we left the building and looked at each other. “Did you feel that?” my husband asked. “Yes, of course,” I responded. Knowing my position both as a manager and assisting other managers, he then said to me, “Let that be a lesson for you!”
Photo credit iStockphoto