Humanity seems to have been forgotten - Denny Scott editorial
Over the weekend, I flirted with gastrointestinal disaster by buying pizza for my wife late in the day on Saturday. I’ve got a bit of an issue with heartburn and eating anything as acidic as pizza after 3 p.m. (without popping a prescribed miracle pill for heartburn) will result in me tossing, turning and waking up throughout the night.
Why did I do it? Well, my wife loves pizza. So do I, but I’ve more or less made it a lunch food after learning that bad overnight heartburn, like the variant I fought with daily until a significant diet change a couple years back, can actually lead to a form of cancer.
However, the pizza we ate on Saturday, on the picnic table at our campsite, was disappointing for another reason: it wasn’t made to my specifications.
We live in a world where anyone can pull out their phone, describe a pizza exactly as they want it and expect it to be ready within 20 to 30 minutes for pick-up. But there can still be human error there.
Maybe it’s because I’ve worked at a local pizza restaurant, a handful of Tim Hortons and a McDonald’s or three in my life, but I feel like the personal touch is always going to be preferable to the digital divide. (That may also explain why I love working for a newspaper - it’s a much more personal medium than say television or the internet in my experience.)
Anyway, despite using the vaunted digital mode of ordering, there was a pretty significant mistake made on our pizza. It didn’t make it inedible (it’s not like I’m looking for a gluten-free pizza) and we enjoyed it just fine, but it wasn’t right.
Regardless of how I ordered it, there is always the human factor and mistakes can be (and were) made. For me, the story ended there. I wasn't interested in calling the store and complaining, I paid for a pizza that was good. I’ve never been one to get the high that people seem to when they get to call out a teenager who is just trying to make a few bucks to save for school or have fun with friends. Provided they don’t put anchovies on my pizza, I can overlook most mistakes because I’ve been there.
It got me thinking about the number of times I have had to pull tomato slices off of a burger or pick green peppers off a pizza and how, while I definitely bemoan the aforementioned inconvenience at the time, it’s a honest-to-goodness mistake and it’s not something that calls for making a federal case.
Unfortunately, there is a very vocal minority that doesn’t feel the same way about that. There is a very loud subsect of our society that feels as though getting the wrong ingredients on a sandwich or the wrong drink at a busy counter is tantamount to someone spitting in a beverage (which may or may not happen as a result of their outbursts, if my observations in fast food have taught me anything). Many on the internet have taken to calling women who do this “Karens” and men everything from “Richards” to “Chads” to “Terrys”, but regardless of the nomenclature, they do exist and they shouldn’t act the way they do.
I used to hate those people when I was the one wearing the uniform and the hat and taking orders or flipping burgers, but they’ve become one of my favourite flavour of intolerable twit since I started living on the other side of the counter. Why? Because it gives me the chance to call them out.
Nothing makes me happier than interrupting one of these people’s rants and suggesting they calm down before I tell the focus of their ire that they’re doing a fine job and mistakes happen. Nothing seems to get the blood of a “Karen” or a “Richard” boiling quite as much as someone interrupting their vitriol.
Don’t get me wrong: if there is a mistake and I’m still at the restaurant, it should be fixed and most people in the service industry will be happy to do so, especially if they’re treated with a little basic human decency.
Unfortunately, there seems to be more people who would rather verbally crucify a teenager at a pizza place or people who will sit there quietly observing that kind of behaviour than people like me who like to disrupt it, and it’s taken a toll on the service industry.
Recently I saw a post on social media about just that and about how, when faced with a mistake, service sector staff will be walking on eggshells when dealing with a customer because they’re worried about the outrage they might receive and it got me thinking about how we got here.
That’s why I’m writing this: to ask everyone to remember that just because someone has to wear a dehumanizing “McUniform” for their job, it doesn’t mean they aren’t a person underneath it whose day, week or month will be ruined by an undeserved verbal assault.
I’m not writing this to give myself a pat on the back for remembering my time in the service industry trenches and being some white knight to the downtrodden, but to remind everyone: mistakes get made on both sides of the counter. Get the error fixed, if necessary, and move on. Or blow up at a kid and chance being famous in this very column.