This is the way it should be done:
I ventured into Claro's Italian Market early Saturday afternoon to pick up a couple sandwiches my cousin ordered. I was greeted by a full house, everybody and his brother seemingly "shopping Italian", looking for authentic foodstuffs for the weekend ... or to possibly whip up that special Valentine's meal two days hence.
Wandering over to the deli counter, I realized I needed to grab a number for "more efficient service". Understand, this isn't your standard "gimme half a pound of mortadella" and you're out the door; the folks purchasing meats and cheeses and whatnot linger and consider and question. So, if you're in a hurry, Claro's isn't the best choice for you to get in, get out.
A good 12 minutes in, my number was finally called: "Number 76!" by a loud and bit gruff deli dude. I tossed my number in a throw-away bucket and told him I was here to pick up a call-in order.
"Dude: You should have told me as soon as you got here ... you didn't have to wait around," he stated. As it turned out, it wouldn't have made a difference as they hadn't even started the sandwiches called in 30 minutes prior.
"Look ... sorry ... let me do this: I have some excellent roast beef on the slicer. Want a sample?" He was obviously in a mode to make up for the faux pas.
"Only if you have a little horseradish jack you can slap atop it," I commented.
"Done," he answered.
Inside 15 seconds, I was munching on a thinly sliced, rolled up layer of roast beef with an equally thin slice of exquisite tangy white jack nestled within. It was deli heaven.
"Isn't that outstanding?" he cajoled. "Now, I don't know about you, but make a grilled cheese out of that particular jack, add some hot tomato soup along with it and you have something satisfying." He slapped the counter. "Your sandwiches will be up in a minute ..."
But, before he left, I told him: "You know, you're good, you. You're a salesman. And not in a bad way. Give me a quarter pound of beef and cheese, please."
He smiled. "Thanks. Tell my boss I'm good. He's right behind you, down the aisle there ..."
I proceeded to do just that. I walked half an aisle down and confronted his superior while he took care of my order. His boss looked up as I approached, seeing I wanted his attention.
"Hey guy ... I just wanted to let you know: That gentleman there?" I pointed at him behind the counter "He's good. You might want to keep him around for a while."
The Boss smirked. "Good to hear. Because I was gonna fire his ass at the beginning of the week. Thanks." We both smiled at each other and as I returned to the counter, I was handed my sandwiches and my meat and cheese, professionally, tightly and neatly wrapped.
And that's what customer service is all about: Servicing the customer. Pleasantly offering advice ... samples ... friendliness to a stranger ... unencumbered assistance.
Deli Dude did his job and knew he did it well, made an extra little sale to boot.
And I got something I wasn't expecting: Faith and assurance there are still people out there who know how to work customer service in the big, bad world ...
............... Ruprecht ( STOP )