This is an excerpt from my book “Companality: Developing intentional organizational culture.” It’s a true story that depicts how some businesses operate. The moral is this: Staff should be empowered. The team and the customers will be much happier.
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It was one of those long days business travelers know well. After hours spent in airports, on planes, and driving a rental car, I was finally in my hotel room. I just wanted to order food, iron a shirt, and handle my email while eating dinner.
As usual, the choices for food delivery – aside from room service which wasn’t in the budget – were Chinese and Italian. Italian got the nod. The menu was limited: pizza, which I try not to eat more than rarely, and spaghetti and meatball. Decision made.
The telephone conversation went something like this …
Restaurant Person (RP): __________ Pizzeria. How may I help you?
Me: I’d like to order spaghetti and meatball for delivery.
He takes my address etc.
RP: Today is buy one get one day. Would you like a second meal for free?
Me: Wow, that’s great! But it’s just me here and I won’t eat two complete meals, so just give me an extra meatball.
RP: No problem. That’s $11.99 for the meal and two dollars for the extra meatball.
Me: I’m sorry. Maybe I wasn’t clear. Instead of taking a whole meal of spaghetti and meatball for free, I’ll just take an extra meatball for free.
RP: Yes, Sir. I understand. But I have no way of doing that.
Me: All you have to do is add a meatball to my order of spaghetti and meatball.
RP: I have no way of doing that.
Me: How about this? Make two meals of spaghetti and meatball. Take the meatball out of one meal and put it in the other. Send the meal with two meatballs to me, then give the other meal to someone or eat it yourself.
RP: Sir, I totally get what you want, but I have no way of doing that.
Me: Fine. I’ll pay the extra two dollars.
And that was that.
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I can only imagine the frustration of the guy trying to order the pasta…