The little boy stood at the counter, his chin almost resting on the edge. “Can I have some ranch sauce, please?” he asked. Cute? Well, it was cute the first time. And sort of the second time. But this was his third trip.
It all started when a large family came in today while I was at work. There were two grandparents, two sets of parents, and about five children. It appeared that they were all traveling together. They ordered 40 chicken nuggets, a quarter pound burger, a hamburger, and two large drinks. They asked for barbecue, hot mustard, ranch, and honey mustard to go with their nuggets.
I began to get their order together as it came up from the kitchen. The only thing special they had requested was that their nuggets be extra crispy. While I was waiting for them to finish cooking, I started putting the rest of the order on a tray on the counter. The only problem was, every time I turned around, the tray wasn’t there. One of the family members would snatch it up each time I turned my back, and carry it over to where the rest of the clan was seated. Then they would send someone else to lie in wait for the next morsel of food.
Meanwhile, they admired our display of three cups that was sitting up on a shelf, showing the different sizes of drinks. “Your Monopoly game ended yesterday, right?” the mother asked.
“Yes, it did,” the cashier replied. “But we are still accepting winning game pieces.”
“Oh, ok,” the mother said. Then she reached out and took the medium and large cup (the only ones with game pieces) off the display and proceeded to peel off the game pieces. She kept the game pieces and gave the cups to her children. They went and filled them with soda.
After all of their food was gone – or at least I think they got it all – the parade started. One of the mothers stood at the counter holding her quarter pound burger.
“This is disgusting!” she exclaimed, while the customers in line turned to stare. “I can’t eat this.”
“What seems to be the problem?” I asked, trying to be the perfect concerned manager, while secretly hoping that she just forgot to tell me she didn’t want onions.
“Look at this,” she said, opening the box and pointing to her burger. “This burger has been sitting back there at least an hour and a half. The bread is stale and the meat is raw.”
I had just seen the kitchen crew toast the bread and cook the meat (which was not pink at all) but I did not point these things out to her. Instead I said, “I am so sorry about this, Ma’am. I will get them to make you a fresh one right away.”
I took the burger into the kitchen and asked for a new one to be made, this time with the meat extra well done. By the time I got back up front, the lady’s husband was standing at the counter holding the hamburger.
“You can’t expect my mother to eat this,” he said, opening the wrapper and showing me a perfect hamburger. “Why, the meat is raw.”
Again I apologized as politely as I could, and again I made a trip to the kitchen to request yet another sandwich with extra well done meat.
Then the sauce parade started. All five of the kids took turns coming to the counter and asking for sauces. Our policy is to give out four sauces for each 20 piece nugget, and since they had ordered 40 nuggets and four different kinds of sauce, I had given them two of each with their order. But each kid had to come and ask for sauces, and each kid wanted at least three of his chosen flavor. By the time the sauce parade stopped, I’m pretty sure they had a whole packet of sauce for each and every one of their extra-crispy nuggets.
Now it was time for seconds. One of the older girls came up and ordered a free quarter pound burger – using a game piece that her mother (or aunt) had most likely gotten off of one of the cups from our display. This time I was taking no chances. I ordered it with the meat extra well done without the girl having to ask.
Then one of the boys asked for some ice cream, again using a game piece to get it for free. By this time I was not sure if there would be anything left in our store by the time they were done.
Finally they began to pack up their things to leave. All of the extra sauce packets found their way into purses, and all of the soda cups (including the ones off the display) were refilled. They all went out the door, and I breathed a sigh of relief.
Then one of the boys came running back in. Breathless, he stood at the counter.
“Can I help you?” I asked as politely as I possibly could at this point.
“Yes,” he said. “I need eight forks and eight spoons.”
“What do you need them for?” I asked, trying my best to put up a feeble protest to this last uncalled-for pillaging of my store.
“My mom is going to fix dinner later and we don’t want to have to do dishes.”
I gave them to him. I know I probably shouldn’t have, but at this point, I just wanted them all gone.