WARNING:  You are about to read another rant …remember the DMV experience? First impressions matter, just in case you've forgotten! 

The Kelly girls (Robbin, Bethany, and Elise) all happen to be away from home this week so Rob and I have been footloose and fancy free.  We've enjoyed the time together, but do miss the girls (had to put that in for their benefit since they read this blog, too!…but seriously, we do miss them!)

A couple of nights ago we decided neither of us felt like cooking, neither of us felt like running to the store for something, neither of us felt like fast food, so we landed on making a quick trip to Chilis to get a salad or something, then we'd go home and finish up some things we both needed to do that day.  Well, that's when it happened, upon driving to Chilis, Rob noticed a restaurant we hadn't been to in forever and suggested we stop there. (Not to give away the name or anything, but it's just past Applebees on 120th, just before I-25….has the second part of the word "a-lone" in it and…read my title.) 

We were seated and I put my feet down under our table like most people naturally would and plopped my feet (I was wearing flip flops) into a pile of sludge from the previous guests….Ewe!  The sludgeness was also in the middle of what appeared to be the person's entire drink now also on the floor so my feet also were quickly wet. Sick! I very politely told our server that I would love it if they could remove the sludge and "drink" puddle from under my feet.  At this point I was sitting with my legs sticking straight forward, trying not to touch Rob's legs under the table in the process.  Ten minutes later a different server stops by….by this time I wasn't feeling so polite.  I requested a new table.  We moved tables.  The other fun part of this was that our original server was being trained and her trainer was extremely impolite as she ran down the list (in front of us) of what she was doing right and wrong in a very condescending tone to the poor trainee.

So, we were settled in at the new table, had managed to squeeze in our order somewhere in the middle of everything and were waiting for our salads and bread….we waited, and waited, and waited…watching everyone else around us get their food.  Finally about 1/2 hour later we were served our salads/bread.  This was supposed to be a "quick" trip, remember?  Our main course followed about 1/2 hour later still.  The steaks tasted great, the garlic mashed potatoes were cold, though. 😦     Then at the end of the experience, we waited for our check…the computers broke down so we had to write out our credit card number on a receipt to have them run through later.  It was uncomfortable leaving our number out on the table so after waiting another 10 – 15 minutes for the check to be picked up, I walked it back to where the registers were by the kitchen and waited another 5 minutes for someone to take the paperwork and put into the register.

It was a disappointing experience.  We went to the car and laughed at the ridiculousness of it all.  Our suggestions, if anyone from the "ahem, unnamed" restaurant would be:

  1. Remember first impressions matter
  2. When there's been a bad first impression (a customer's feet bathed in sludgeness as an example) you can remedy it by offering something as a compensation – a drink, an appetizer…something.
  3. When there's been a string of bad impressions it takes a lot to keep a customer! At this point there are several choices.  To just ignore the whole thing is not one of them.  If the server had offered to bring out the manager to talk to, or offered to pay for the meal, or even said, "We really messed up this time – here's a coupon to come back and allow us to make it up to you at our expense." 

Unfortunately, it's hard to think about going back there for a second chance.  There are plenty of other options where the staff really gets "Customer Service".

I take this lesson further and remind myself how important first impressions are with whatever I am offering.

  1. If I want others to be attracted to Christ, the way I live my life and what others FIRST see in that regard is really important!
  2. If I mess up, I really need to offer something (an apology, or another solution) promptly and with grace – with the end goal being to keep that person's respect.
  3. If I'm representing God, my family, my job, or my church, what I say and how I say it the first time really matters! Ecclesiastes 5:2 reads:  Don't shoot off your mouth, or speak before you think.  Don't be too quick to tell God what you think he wants to hear.  God's in charge, not you—the less you speak, the better.  (The Message)

I haven't yet perfected the discipline of always remembering first impressions, but this experience was a good reminder! 🙂

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About cakboliv

Born in Cochabamba, Bolivia to wonderful missionary parents, Howard and Maxine Morarie. Grew up in Bolivia, both in a remote jungle village

One response »

  1. Scott says:

    Boy I get that. I’m happy to take my money elsewhere if a place of business doesn’t want it. And good service is the most direct way to let me know they want my money. I tend to think of myself as, at least somewhat, gracious and patient. I could get the worst circumstances, but if I’m communicated with and shown that I matter to them there’s a good chance I’d be back.

    One restaurant with CONSISTANTLY OUTSTANDING service: Three Margaritas.

    They get it.

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