A couple of evenings ago, I was out to dinner with my friend Kim. We met at North, a very Scottsdale-like place to enjoy a meal. By this I mean, there’s a healthy mix of couples, seniors, singles trying to look cool, and 50-something year old women on the prowl with 4-inch heels, facelifts, and abnormally large boobs. Great people watching, decent food, and exceptionally good prices on happy hour wine. What’s not to like?
Kim and I caught up on all of our day-to-day news and shared some good laughs about neighbors, family and mutual friends. The waiter was attentive, and all was good. After we finished eating, he asked if we wanted dessert, and we declined. He said he would be “right back with the bill”. Hmmmm. Twenty minutes later, there still was no bill, and the waiter was nowhere to be seen.
Well, we had finished our wine, and we were itching to get some after dinner shopping in before having to return home to kids. We needed to wrap up this dinner and get our bill. Five more minutes elapsed. Another waiter breezed past me, and I smiled at him and asked, “Can you help us?”
He looked at me with surprising scorn and exclaimed, “I’m not your waiter. What is it that you need?”
I stopped myself from saying, “Well jackass, a bill might be nice so that I don’t just pull a runner on this tab and call it an evening.” But, I politely asked him if we could pay for our meal.
He grudgingly returned with our bill, and we each contributed two twenty dollar bills to cover our portions. It was quickly picked up, and our change was returned. Here’s where it gets interesting. Lo and behold, we received too much money back. In fact, it was nearly $20.00 too much.
Kim and I both baffled by the circumstances looked at each other. Kim, like me, considers herself to be a rather good, ethical person who typically is honest and straightforward. On one hand, someone made a mistake. On the other hand, they kept us waiting for an inordinate amount of time and then we had to deal with the ‘tude of a waiter who clearly never learned customer service skills. Without a blink of an eye, we pocketed our extra cash, and walked out of the restaurant.
I don’t know about Kim, but I don’t feel particularly guilty about this. I’m the first person to want to right a wrong. I don’t believe I’ve ever purposely stolen anything in my life. Well, maybe until now. And, this is an achievement since there have been numerous relatives of mine who have had sticky fingers including my dear grandma who prided herself on snapping up a park bench from Golden Gate Park before she retired from the City.
But, this situation at North made me think that occurances like this probably happen every single day. A business provides less than stellar service to a customer, and a customer coyly dings them in some way like taking an extra $10.00, exaggerating bad service to obtain a free meal, or writing a scathing, blown out of proportion, online review that will be read repeatedly by many.
The moral of this story is that even nice people can do bad things if they are pushed enough. Would I have taken this $10.00 if the waiter was attentive? Absolutely not. But, when you treat me poorly, there just isn’t much incentive to be kind to you. I hope someone at North reads this post. It will be worth the $10.00 to them to learn a bit about how to treat customers properly.
Now on to my favorite song about stealing from Jane’s Addiction. Enjoy and count your change!