Over the past year my wife and I have gotten a lot of takeout from local restaurants. It’s our way of doing what little we can to help, and, fortunately, most of our favorite places are still around while too many others have gone out of business. And I do all the picking up rather than using one of the numerous delivery services. I haven’t crunched the numbers but I think more money goes to the restaurant, which is also kind of a family tradition. I had a great uncle who, when his father had a heart attack, called the undertaker. When people asked him why he didn’t call the doctor he said, “I could have but I got a bigger inheritance by cutting out the middleman,” but that’s another story.
I know it’s tough for restaurants even now but there’s one thing I absolutely can’t stand: when I get home and find that something’s been left out of our order. With most things I’m pretty easygoing but finding that something’s missing from a takeout order sends me into a boiling rage, and the worst part is I can’t really do anything about it. I’m not going back to the restaurant because by the time I’ve driven there, picked up the order, and driven home I’m usually cold and hungry and tired, and also they might not believe me when I tell them something was missing. And in fairness to the restaurants I get that. I have a brother-in-law who used to be a general manager at a restaurant that served prime rib on weekends. One Wednesday night someone called in to complain that they’d picked up a to-go order and their prime rib was missing. He said, “Maybe that’s because we’re not serving prime rib tonight.” The caller hung up.
I also get that mistakes can happen although repeated mistakes turn me off a place no matter how good it is. Several years ago my wife and I got sushi from a favorite local place—it was where we had one of our first dates, in fact, and even after it changed hands the food was still good but their takeout service took a nosedive. Our orders were always short and always took longer than they said. If they told me the order would be ready in half an hour it would take at least an hour, and I’d spend most of the extra time standing there in the restaurant like a schmuck. Finally I complained to the manager who said he understood and that they’d gotten a lot of complaints and said the next time our order would be free. The next time there was a different manager on duty who said he’d never heard of any problems but that if I were willing to come in he’d be happy to discuss it. I knew I was getting cold fish and it wasn’t sushi.
Anyway one night I got takeout from a nearby Chinese restaurant and started pulling everything out and was surprised to find things I didn’t order in the bag: egg rolls and extra dumplings. I couldn’t figure it out. It was all in one bag and the receipt with my name and number was stapled to the outside so it wasn’t as though I’d picked up someone else’s order along with mine. I hoped they hadn’t made a mistake and I felt bad about some poor schmuck getting home and not finding his egg rolls. Then I checked the receipt again and written at the bottom was, “Extra dumplings/egg rolls-FREE” right above “THANK YOU!”
Yeah, with that sort of service I will go back—again and again.