I had not planned on doing a word of the year for 2016, but at a Wendy’s restaurant on Friday, I found my theme.
I went through the drive-through of a Wendy’s which I frequent often, and ordered a full spicy chicken caesar salad. I order a full spicy chicken caesar salad at Wendy’s (and at THIS Wendy’s) often, and I always take care to articulate the “full” part (because it’s very disappointing to arrive home with a half instead of a full!).
When the service person handed me my order, the bag felt a little light but I was aware of cars behind me so I pulled forward a bit. Upon checking the order, I realized I had been given a half salad.
The parking lot is configured in such a way that I couldn’t easily get back in the drive-through line to rectify the problem. I didn’t really want to go in, because a) I was in my workout clothes and b) I was already worried about the length of time I had left my father-in-law alone. It was pretty much my only option, though, so in I went.
The staff person from the drive-through came out to the restaurant dining area to meet me, which felt like a good sign. I said, I received a half salad instead of a full and [this part is important] “I probably didn’t speak clearly enough.” She said she would fix it. I asked how much more it would cost, she told me $2.15, and I handed her the money.
When she went to the back to change out the salad, she said to her co-worker, “she needs a whole salad, It was her fault.”
WELL, folks, welcome to the birth of the theme of 2016 because at that moment, it took every ounce of discretion and discipline I had not to stalk back there, grab that woman (who is a staff person I deal with frequently, has always been professional, and honestly I’ve almost tweeted her praise before), and confront her because it actually was not my fault.
The problem is, by being deferential, trying to ease the conflict of the situation, and please everyone, I had accepted blame for a situation in which I was completely and utterly blameless.
I think the woman was (in some reverse co-worker support way) trying to support her co-worker as in “you didn’t do anything wrong. Mistakes happen.” But why on earth would you say within earshot of a compliant, diplomatic, patient customer “it was her fault?”
This tendency of mine does me no favors, in everyday life with strangers, doing business, as I interact with coworkers, as I parent, and in my marriage and it’s time for it to stop.
As I was driving today, I narrowed it down to two candidates.
SILENT (Because in situations where I am tempted to “fix” things by interjecting an unnecessary apology, silence is power.)
CONFIDENCE (Because it is my lack of confidence in these situations that leads me to break the silence.)
Maybe the thing is “silent” and “confidence” by themselves are each only half of an incomplete whole:
In an interesting counterpoint to that day, my son and I ate at Mr. Roboto Tokyo Grill that evening. Quite a few minutes elapsed after my dinner was delivered to our table. We saw what we thought was my son’s food in the hands of a server, but the server didn’t come to our table so we assumed it was not his. I finally went up to the cashier to inquire. The staff said “oh, you didn’t have a number on your table so we couldn’t figure out where to deliver his food (they had taken the number when they delivered my food). We reassured them it was fine and they delivered his food. Several minutes later, the manager approached me, asked my name, and assured me that our next meal would be free, and he apologized for the problem. What a lovely counterpoint to the lunchtime “faulting.” Thanks, Mr. Roboto Tokyo Grill!