Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lost In Translation

Due to the nature of my job, I often depart hotels buck early.  Way before anyone has taken their first morning breath, let alone contemplated breakfast.  On days such as these, my airline has contracted our hotels to provide a bagged breakfast, which usually consists of fruit, yogurt, a bagel or danish and some juice.

This past Saturday was just such a day.  But when I asked the front desk clerk for my brown bag, he gave me a sheepish grin and told me they only provide them before 6 AM.  I pointed out that my watch read 5:50.  His answered with a shrug that one or two minutes doesn't count.  Quite certain those minutes do count, I reminded him of his contractual obligation.  He then told me I could get something in the restaurant.  When I asked if the restaurant was open, knowing full well my contract entitled me to a bagged snack, he shrugged again.  This was not an answer, so I prodded further. 

"The restaurant opens at six," he said.

"But I have to be on the van to the airport at six.  Which is why you are required to provide my snack before six."

"You can go in at 5:45."

I was dubious, to say the least.  This now put things before six, and he should still be required to offer a snack.  Besides, you can't very well enter a restaurant at 5:45 and be expected to have completed your meal by six.  He finally relented, allowing me to take a single granola bar/and or a piece of fruit and a beverage.  I shouldn't have been so grateful, but at least I didn't try to make off with a morning salad and pint of ice cream like one of the flight attendants.

Still, there was something this hotel clerk had in common with the next food service professional that gave me pause.  Both were from India. (I surmised this.  They could have been Pakistani, or from elsewhere in that region, but neither seemed to be a local.  And both spoke with heavy accents.)

Whilst paying for a sandwich at Subway, I noticed apple pie on the menu.  This intrigued me, and I inquired about the pie.  What size was it?  What was it's shape?  Was it baked or fried (like the old McDonald's apple pies before they became "healthy.")

"I don't sell those," she said.

"But they're on your menu," I pointed out.

"Some things I don't sell," she said.  "Sometimes I do.  Today I don't."

Somethings, even the obvious, aren't so much.  Even when printed in ink, or tiny plastic letters, you'd better be sure to ask.  And if you want a delicious apple pie, (she did at least confirm they are like the old McDonald's apple pies) you'd better plan a trip to Europe.  At least as of ten years ago, you could still get them there. 


Michael Offutt said...

Consider yourself lucky. Apple pie from McDonalds and Subway doesn't sound appealing at all.

Jeanne said...

True. Remember they put warnings on that apple pie. WARNING: Contents may be hot. Oh, wait, that was the coffee. I think you need to make a sandwich sign that says "Hungry pilot needs food!" Who's going to want to take the chance that you might be their pilot? I'd buy you the food.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to say so, but it was fun reading. I am not sure my temper could have managed such a civilized behaviour as yours!

Amy Saia said...

You'd think with the work you do there could at least be a little food, even that early in the morning. It doesn't seem fair.

Ted Cross said...

I love real pies, but I also enjoy the ones in McDonalds, so sue me!

Tanya Reimer said...

Sadly, this happens too often. Customer service is not a given, it needs to be drilled into our employees, and if it lacks at the top, it shows, and we all pay for it.
I have a styling award for you on my blog.

Jeanne said...

And the moral of the story is, M.C., if you whine about something long enough, someone will give you an award. Nice work!

Elle Strauss said...

Europe is definitely the place to go for anything bakery related. Chocolate, coffee and cheese, also.

Sierra Godfrey said...

Mein Gott! I was getting pissed off just reading that. I mean, 10 minutes and a shrug? Gaaaaah! I'm glad you got your food in the end.

Regina said...

That is so sad when they don't want to fulfill their customer service obligations. It is bad enough that you have to be out and about that early but when they want to treat you like that it gets frustrating. I hope your next trip goes much better for you.

Sarah Ketley (constance) said...

*smacks head*

honestly, he probably ATE your snack or passed it along to someone else to eat. or sold it on the black market. If there is such a market for 'snacks in paper bags.'


great posts and blog.