October 10th, 2007

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To Bagel Guy: Thanks

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

I have a back-log of post topics building up, and that hasn’t happened in a while.
Here is my list of topics:
- California/Fall Break (half written, saved as draft)
- Communication differences in males/females, from info I learned in my sociology class
- Cell phones in school
- Einstein Bagel Bros
- Slightly randomized post on kindergarten and social convention
(That’s as much for my benefit as yours.)

I’m going to have to get busy posting, really. Especially since some of them are time-sensitive, like the bagel one, the Cali one (obviously), and the sociology one (so I can most accurately recall.)

But today, The Bagel One.

As some of you may know, I eat lunch and/or a snack at Einstein Bagel Bros on University at least 3 times a week, sometimes 4. Sometimes I go twice in one day. I’ve been going to Einstein’s for lunch since the beginning of last year, and have gone, since then, multiple times a week.

Since beginning of spring semester last year, I have ordered the same thing for lunch – Can I have a Veg Out on Sesame Bagel with no onions, please, side? just a piece of fruit, Emma, for here, just water. If I’m doing a snack, that’s always the same too – Can I have a toasted sesame bagel with plain cream cheese please, Emma, for here, just water.

So obviously, I like this place. I’m a ‘regular,’ as they say. I know the building, recognize some of the other regulars, and have the ordering routine down. I know the manager and a couple of the workers, though most don’t seem to stick around more than a couple months. I know when someone is on shift when they usually aren’t. I know when someone’s the new. I know when they didn’t make my order as per the apparent guidelines. I know how they make a lot of their stuff as least as well as, and sometimes probably better than, the workers.

So over the last year and 2.3 months, I’ve gotten to recognise the few consistent workers and the manager. And it seems like one of the consistant workers at least recognizes me as someone she sees a lot, though doesn’t show it in any way. From time to time a worker who’s there for a month or so has gotten to know my name. But, over all this time, only one worker has actually taken the time and energy to really pay attention to the fact that I was in the fucking place giving them tonnes of profit three-four times a week.

I never knew his name. I kept meaning to look at his name tag, but I always forget, and now I’ll probably never know. He was in his mid-thirties, maybe, and at first I was a little uncertain of him because he was so friendly. But, as time passed and he took more and more of my Veg Out orders, he took the time to learn my name and learn my order.

Then he took the energy to recognise I was a regular and go a little further than that. When I came in through the door he’d always yell ‘Hey!’ and when I left, he’d always yell ‘Thanks, Emma!’ – causing me to be very embarrassed, but smile. When there was a group of people blocking the ordering queue trying to decide what they wanted, he’d step to the side and take my order, because he knew I already knew what I wanted – might as well get someone busy making it while these idiots make up their minds. If there wasn’t any fruit or fruit cups left, I’d obligingly go without and take my tray to my table, and often he’d appear a little later and casually slip a fruit cup he’d gotten from somewhere (sometimes the $3.50 ‘meal sized’ one that I wasn’t ‘allowed’ as a side without paying extra) onto my table, saying ‘Look what I found.’ When my food was ready, he’d call out my name, and then bring it over to my table before I could go to the counter to pick it up. He was always friendly and always smiling. Even if he’d never given me free fruit salads, I appreciated him just acknowledging that I was spending a fairly good amount of money and time at his workplace and being friendly because of it.

I wish that some of the other employees had picked up on his example. Obviously, he was really, really nice, which you can’t expect. I don’t need ‘Hey’s and ‘Thanks’s when I enter or leave Einsteins, but remembering my name or making a general comment like ‘nice to see you again’ is, in my mind, something any good business should try to do for regular customers. And if nothing else, they can do some little things.
For example, today I ordered a bagel with cream cheese, and when I got it, discovered that it had but a mere smudge of cream cheese on it. (This was because they had a new employee preparing the bagels.) I didn’t want to complain, or make a fuss; I know she’s new. So I just went up to the counter and asked for a little container of plain cream cheese from the new employee, as I have done in the past. It’s never caused a problem. But, this time the manager overheard me, and walked over with the new employee to the cream cheese, glancing back at me. Then he walks over to me and asks me “Is this something extra, you wanted on the side?” Translation: We’re going to charge you for this 1 square inch tub of cream cheese. “Well, it’s just that there wasn’t much on my bagel,” I replied. I’ve been here a zillion times, I know how much they’re supposed to put on. I know my allotted amount. He looked doubtful. So I held up my bagel, displaying it’s meager cheese-ness. He conceded, and the girl brought me the cream cheese, while he mumbled to her, “Be sure and use the scoop or you don’t get the right amount.”

Now, I have seen this guy hundreds of times. I can tell that he recognises me from the way he looks at me – you know, that recognition you can see in people’s eyes. He’s never once acknowledged the fact that I regularly choose to spend my money at his franchise. The above situation would have been a great way to acknowledge that they recognise me as a valued regular customer. The amount of money I’ve spent with them has far exceeded what they will lose by not charging me for a tiny container of cream cheese – he’s not going to lose monetarily. And obviously I did get my cream cheese in the end. But in my mind, he should have let it slide, not interrogated me. If he doesn’t want to appear negligent, he could make a point of it being a favor, a thanks for my business.

Maybe I’m just old fashioned; maybe you all think I expect too much? Maybe society’s moved forward too much and nobody gives a damn. I guess Einstein’s doesn’t have a lot to lose from not being a little nicer to a regular customer – being near TCU gives them a thriving customer base. But the manager himself could gain. I recognise extra effort, and, in turn, I’ll thank someone for it, usually by way of a generous tip. (I don’t tip regularly at Einstein’s – I don’t really feel like I need to, they make a killing off me – just $5 every few weeks or so. And it’s not like they’re bringing the food to my table or refilling my drinks.) I guess I learned this from my dad – it’s possibly one of his best qualities. He may be an asshole, but if you go out of your way or are even just extra nice to him, he will notice it, and chances are, you will get something from him in thanks – wine, presents, money. (He keeps half-size bottles of wine in the trunk of his car as impromptu thank-yous for people he meets who go out of their way to help him.)

Anyway, the awesome dude from Einsteins told me two Friday’s ago, as he brought me my sesame bagel, that it was his last day, and that he was going elsewhere. I’m generally shy, and don’t think I’d said more than my order and ‘thanks’ to him before then, but I told him I was sad to see him go. After I finished eating, I went up to him at the counter and pressed $10 in his hand (if I’d had $20, he would have gotten that), and thanked him again for always being so nice to me. He was a great guy, and I always enjoyed seeing him at lunch, even if I was too shy to do more than smile at his kind remarks. I must say that if he was there now, I’d probably be bothering to get lunch instead of in here writing this. But becau
se of this morning, I’m in no hurry to go back since I’m not starving.

So, Einstein Brother’s guy who worked on University and befriended a long-haired girl called Emma, if, by some strange chance you ever do end up reading this, which I know is very unlikely, thanks again. Continue being as kind as you are wherever you’re working now, and I hope you are duly rewarded in life.

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