Confrontation is an uncomfortable thing.
There is nothing pleasant about it. Sure, it isn’t the worst thing I could ever have to face. If I were to be forced to choose between confrontation and an angry bear, I would choose confrontation, but only because confrontation with an angry bear would most likely end with mauling.
Still, though, there is something about it that makes my pulse race. Maybe it’s because I am such a peaceful person. More likely, it has to do with me being a gigantic chicken. (Metaphorically, of course. I am not actually a bird.)
I’ve never been in a fist fight nor do I plan on being in one. If someone were to want to fight me, I would probably just hand them my wallet and curl up in a fetal position hoping they go away. I have eaten well done steaks because I didn’t want to make my server give me the medium steak I deserve. I once paid nearly $7 for frozen yogurt instead of arguing that their scale was wrong, which, unless my yogurt toppings were made of lead, it was.
Of course, sometimes confrontation is inevitable.
My wife and I went to have a nice burger this weekend. We had received an offer at a minor league baseball game for a free burger with the purchase of an “entrée” at a certain burger chain. In the interest of not dragging this particular dining establishment through the mud, I will not say their name. I will tell you, though, that it is named after a bird that happens to be the color of a very bad sunburn. And it rhymes with head dobbin.
We sat down and ordered. Since we have been married for so long, we now seem to always think alike. Because of this, we wanted the same meal. We each ordered a burger and fries and the required bottomless drinks to get one burger free. It was a good meal and at no point was I disappointed in the food.
Then the bill arrived.
“Sorry,” the waitress said, a look of sheepish apprehension on her face. “My manager said we couldn’t take off either burger because that burger is not part of the deal.” Then she was gone.
I stared at the check for a minute. Then I looked back at the offer on my phone. Sure enough, it said a “FREE burger with the purchase of an entrée and two beverages.” I thought back through the menu. There was not an entrée section, nor was there a note stating that this burger was not an entrée. When we had ordered, we were not informed this was not part of the deal.
My wife stared at me. I don’t know if she sensed trouble brewing in my mind, but she seemed to.
“Do you want to talk to someone?” she asked.
I stared at the check a bit longer. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, it is only $7. Of course at the same time, it IS $7. The whole reason we had come here was not for the jovial atmosphere or the onion rings they serve in a strange tower formation (More food should be served in towers, FYI), but for the free burger. Of course, I have never confronted a manager about anything because, inevitably, that would end with the manager yelling at me and banishing me from not only this restaurant, but every other restaurant in the entire world. I would spend the rest of my days at home eating bologna sandwiches and crying.
After three or four more minutes, I finally decided. I stood up and picked up the check. I pulled up the offer on my phone to show the manager. With a deep breath, I started to walk to the front.
With each step, I imagined how this would go.
“Yes sir, can I help you?” the manager would say.
“You’re darn right you can help!” I would say. “I want the burger that is coming to me! I DESERVE THAT BURGER! You will not stand between me and my free meal just because of some phantom definition of the word entrée!”
“Oh yeah?” he would say. Then I would punch him and as he lie on the ground, he would manage to spit out, “Yes sir, we’ll get that taken care of.”
I walked a bit faster, my feet hitting the floor harder. In my head, all I heard was rap-metal. I got a scowl on my face and stepped up to the host stand.
“Is there a manager I can talk to?” I asked in a tone that, I assumed, showed I meant business.
“Um… yeah. Just a second,” said the teenage girl before scurrying off behind a large bunch of balloons. I will say it’s hard to maintain your tough guy act when surrounded by balloons, but I managed to do it. The manager would come out to see me doing my best young Clint Eastwood impression. I’m sure it struck fear directly in his heart.
I took a deep breath as he stepped towards me. My grip tightened on my check and my hand slowly slid towards the phone in my pocket, ready to whip out the offer if need be.
“Yes sir, can I help you?” he asked.
“Yeah. My server said that this offer does not work with what we ordered?” I waited for his response, ready to pounce. The rap-metal had been replaced by a single voice screaming “KILL! KILL!”
“Oh yeah. Technically it doesn’t, but I’ll take care of it,” he said, grabbing the check and leaving.
I headed back to the table, very conflicted. On the one hand, I was not paying for the burger. I had gotten my way. Good for me. On the other, though, I had been prepared for debating, haggling, a bit of arguing. Then nothing happened at all. It was like being in school and studying for a quiz only to have the professor cancel it. Sure, you’re happy you don’t have to take the quiz, but you had spent so much time preparing for it.
He came over and handed the check back, wished us a nice day, and was gone. We left, $7 in my pocket and my first confrontation with a restaurant manager under my belt.
I’m not any less afraid of confrontation than I was to begin with. I will not be looking for opportunities to get in someone’s face anytime soon. I did learn a valuable lesson, though.
The only people who hate confrontation more than me are restaurant managers. Also, someone needs to define entrée a bit more clearly.
Seriously, why does more food not come in towers?
- Local burger restaurant takes patent infringement lawsuit to social media (ksl.com)
- Restaurant Review for South Hills in Pittsburgh (local.answers.com)
- How burgers went from greasy fast food to gourmet talk of the town (metronews.ca)
- National Burger Chain May Soon Come Out With ‘Philly’ Pretzel Burgers (philadelphia.cbslocal.com)