This should have been my last work day before a week long paid vacation! But apparently, lack of employees means I might have to come in a day. :/ Well, I’ll enjoy the almost-week!
I must be still dealing with manager shift anxieties.
Some unshaven guy with a sloppy old t-shirt and a gross pony tail came to the back door of Panera (the alarmed, no-entry one) and asked if he could come in and use our panini press for his homemade sandwiches he kept in a plastic bag. I said I couldn’t let him in that way, and I didn’t feel comfortable putting elements on my press that I wasn’t fully aware of their content in case of food allergens that might transfer to the customers. He started threatening to throw out all the bread he found in the dumpster. I was like, “Well, sir, it was in the dumpster because we already threw it out, so what you do with it is your business.” Then he got mad and tried to shoulder his way in, but I said, “Hang on. Let me run this by one of my superiors; I’ll see what we can do for you.” And I closed the door on him yelling about my supposed rudeness. I went to Lauren and explained the situation, and she said, “Are you serious? Let me deal with this guy.” So she went and told him basically the same thing I did, but with a little more force. He refused to budge, but we locked him out.
A little while later, I went through the dining room and this girl in a pink mini skirt, stockings, and a sparkly headband (very ShinWa High) called me over to her table and knocked over her soda in front of me, then said I shouldn’t be so clumsy and to clean it up. I said, “I’m sorry, Miss. Is there a problem?” She said yes, she couldn’t believe how judgmental and uncaring I was not to let that man in, when all he wanted was a hot sandwich. I said, “What are you? That guy’s fan?” She was like, “Actually, I am.” When I tried to placate her, she stood up and slapped me in the face. HARD. Then when I tried to block the next blow, she grabbed my hair and slapped me again. Apparently that was enough to satisfy her and she sat back down with her arms crossed.
On my way back to the registers (and my face was bright red and my cheek was bruised and my bottom lip swollen) I ran into Mike who scolded me for not saying yes to a customer and then fighting with another one. He said: it’s Panera policy to break any rule for a customer, and I wasn’t following that train of thought, and HE let the guy in to make his hot sandwiches on our press. “Now. Having heard all that, do you think you might have acted differently in the past hour?”
I was so close to stamping my foot, but I settled for a definite, “No.” I explained that I felt allowing that man in was a possible threat to our other customers’ safety, I didn’t know if he was clean enough to be using our equipment, and I would do the exact same thing if it happened again. Mike kind of sighed, but didn’t say anything else, so I left, cradling my cheek and about ready to punch someone.
Lauren met me halfway to the hand washing station in the BOH and said, “Whoa. What happened to your face?” When I told her, she got super mad and was like, “That’s it. I’m gonna kick that girl’s ass. I don’t care what Mike says. That’s not okay.” So she totally went Korean drama and dragged me along to confront the crazy girl. She said she had better leave before she ended up getting beat to death with a sparkly flower (Lauren really has a heavy sparkly flower on her keychain she threatens people with) and she’d ship her body to North Korea, because it just wasn’t possible that someone like her was South Korean. She ran away, fast.
Unfortunately, we still couldn’t get rid of Panini guy, who was in the back, now using OUR ingredients to create his own sandwiches and grill them. So I went to glare at him for good measure, and he’d taken off his “disguise” and turned out he was Russell Crowe, and the crazy schoolgirl was his rabid fan. So I just said, “I wouldn’t have treated you any different if I had known, except I would have demanded an autograph before I sent you away. I hate that you’re here right now, defiling my work station and getting in our employees way during lunch hour.” He chuckled and continued adding basil to his made-up Panini.
I’m super disappointed in Russell Crowe right now. I mean, really? Go buy yourself a huge kitchen with a personal Panini press. It’s not like you can’t afford it. So rude.
[On my lunch break at Panera.]
Asian Man: *stands right over me* I need to make a complaint.
Me: *slurping noodles* o.o
Asian Man: Why are you eating noodle when you are here?
Me: They’re so delicious!
Asian Man: *laughing* You should not be eating noodle here. Iiii should be eating noodle! You’re not Asian, right?
Me: You could tell by the way I’m using these chopsticks, huh?
Best customer experience I’ve had at Panera… probably ever.
I want to share a funny work story.
It starts with me, finding everything in the bakery done and mindlessly bagging cookies for lack of something more useful to do before my trainee arrived.
One of our regulars–who is a girl–leaned over the counter, craned her neck over the breakfast board and in the same voice people ask for a take-home menu said, “Are you single?”
The mint cookie I was in the process of bagging slipped from my hands for a split second before I managed to recover and replace my open-mouthed shock for a more dignified expression of blatant confusion.
Within the split second of fish-like gaping I summed her up from the corner of my eye. She comes into the bakery quite regularly; always orders a hot chocolate to go and maintains a cheery disposition throughout her order and the time waiting for it. I tried to decide how seriously to take her. Was she part of a singles’ club? Did I really look like a guy in my hat and boxy apron?
As I was panicking over the best way to explain to this misguided woman that I didn’t roll that way, I blurted out the words, “Yes, I’m… I’m single,” casting her a sideways glance of wariness.
This morsel of information hardly seemed to phase her, which only succeeded in confusing me more.
“I have to ask,” she said, like this happens to people every day, “because my friend thinks you’re the hottest thing alive.”
Yes. She said that. The hottest thing alive.
I’m sorry. But this kind of thing… it doesn’t happen to me. At least, it’s never happened before I started working at Panera. And yes, it’s possible he’s a total creep. It’s possible she exaggerated his words. But who knows!? It’s also possible he’s just a wonderful human being with an overeager friend!
I am a blusher. So my face turned bright pink and I murmured “Oh my goodness” with my head down while she kept going.
“He’s always coming in to work saying like, ‘Have you seen that Bethany?’ So… just thought I’d ask.” Then she traipsed off for her hot chocolate, leaving me bewildered and amused.
I giggled a lot after that.
It’s hard to drag yourself out of bed at six (or sometimes three) in the morning, opting out of a careful makeup job in order to be at work on time. It can get rough when the rain brings droves of hungry people in and you’re stuck in one place, ringing orders for two hours straight until you feel as dirty, foot-sore, and unattractive as a tourist on the tube. It’s hard when you’re surrounded by coworkers either engaged or married who say things like, “Oops, my ring caught on the glove!” Sometimes, no matter how optimistic or blessed a girl is, she wishes a compliment might come her way so she doesn’t feel quite so undesirable.
Sometimes a woman will be so pleased with her sliced and packaged bread that she’ll offer to set you up with her son.
…or word will finally get out that you’re the hottest thing alive. ;P
Proof that my mystery admirer is crazy.
Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like people are getting harder to please. I remember when I first started working at the cafe–almost a year ago–I was amazed by how grateful customers were for little things. Things like a cup of water for their doggie waiting outside, me bringing the meal to their table when they had trouble, changing the order four or five times and running down to the line to make sure they knew the deal so the sandwich came out perfect. I mean, it’s not a big deal, and yet it is because it takes lot of work, regardless of how happy I am to do it. But now…. now seems… different.
Maybe Obama’s handouts are making people feel entitled. Maybe the social barrier isn’t as diminished as we all thought and people still look down on “the help.” Or maybe the people who can still afford to eat at Panera are used to getting what they want without having to show any gratitude.
That’s not to say I don’t still see some of the kindest people in the world on the other side of the counter. And some days it’s like everyone is in a good mood. As far as employee/customer relationships go, I definitely believe Panera is tip-top.
In any case, this post is in honor of those difficult days and the customers who don’t know any better…
Letter Challenge Day 29 — The person that I want tell everything to, but am too afraid (for excellent reasons) to do so.
Dear Guests of Panera Bread,
Scones are hard. They are for having alongside tea or coffee or another liquidy hot drink. Think of them as a sweet dense biscuit. Please stop bringing them back and complaining about them being hard. It’s a scone. If it’s harder than a cookie, it’s been made right. If you can mush it, it’s undercooked, not to mention sad and pathetic and will be mocked by its real scone friends, which is something you would not wish upon a scone. If you do not like real scones, you are welcome to order a muffin or muffie. Both are soft.
Also, the scone with a dusting of powdered sugar is blueberry, not chocolate chip. We have a sign, dearies. It’s the one that sits right above the scone with the dusting of powdered sugar that says, “Wild Blueberry Scone.”
The little cookie-shaped thing that is not with the cookies but with the pastries is a muffie. I know it looks like muffle. But it isn’t. That’s ie. No l. Not muffles. I know, it’s confusing. But it is, in fact, a muffie.
I do not set the prices. I simply explain them. I’m sorry that the price of food rises all the time, but you can’t exactly blame Panera for that either. (Unless you want to blame our need to serve you the freshest and best products ever. Rimshot!) Blame the cows or something. Just don’t yell at me (or throw stuff at Haley) because drinks are more than you thought.
Those green numbers are calories. The prices are in black. It is not 3.90 for a full Fuji Apple Chicken Salad. Haha. You wish!
Don’t sneer at me for asking if you want a baguette with your soup in a bread bowl. I get a baguette with my bread bowl, as do many of our other guests. So if you ask, “Who does that?” I will have a sardonic answer for you. Masked by a friendly smile and a 12 year old voice that sounds apologetic, but really I’m sorry that you’re so grumpy about bread. Because our bread is amazing.
You cannot pick three entrees for a YP2: You Pick Two. I never thought I’d have to explain that… but apparently I do. A lot.
We don’t take tips. Just donations. If you want to give me the equivalent of a tip, you can take the time to call the number or follow the link at the bottom of your receipt and mention my name in the mindshare. That would make me ever so happy, it would make my managers happy, and we would project that happiness back to you. So it’s a win-win-win!
The grey vent-looking things under the coffee carafes are not drains. Please stop pouring entire cups of coffee in there, because it’s not going to go anywhere but on the floor when we try to switch the old coffees for new and it all splashes out. I’ll be more than happy to get you a new mug if you want a different kind of coffee. But those trays, they’re only there for catching drizzles. Kind of like how a thimble isn’t a hard hat.
If you’re buying a meal and a drink, it’s pretty much a crime not to add the 99 cent pastry. These cookies and sweets go for two to three dollars a piece, regularly. You’re already getting the drink. What on earth about that deal doesn’t sound worth it to you??
And possibly the most amusing of all…
The “associate trainer” etched into my shiny silver name tag does not mean I’m still in training. It does, in fact, mean that I am able to train others. It always makes me giggle when people think otherwise. “Oh, you’ll be through the training phase soon, and it’ll get easier!” No. No it will not. xP But thanks for saying so.