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Sunday Musings: When Is Garlic Bread NOT Garlic Bread?

Occasionally, a hormone-crazy mom-to-be has a craving for a really oddball food. Or in this case, a food that doesn’t exist. We invite you to peruse the following, then share your thoughts on what might have actually happened. Bonus Muse: What’s a poor, boggled server to do?

A Server's Perfect World

I’ll rely heavily, in the first part of this post, on exactly what the server posted on Reddit shortly after the incident went down.

I want you, dear readers, to have the benefit of the raw, unfiltered source material, so we don’t have any silly misunderstandings. Or get into arguments about semantics…

One way or the other, the customers managed to break all 5 of the top commandments servers would like us to follow to insure fast, friendly service (see photo, left).

Female server reported

“Earlier, a pregnant woman came in with her husband,” the server explained. “When I went to get their orders, the woman asked for ‘garlic-free garlic bread.’ I advised her that our garlic bread was just our regular bread with garlic butter instead of regular butter and asked her to clarify if she just wanted regular bread. But she insisted no, she wanted our garlic bread, just without garlic.”

“I let her know she could just order regular bread and it would be a dollar less, but she insisted she had a huge craving for garlic bread without the garlic. I wasn’t really sure what to do, but her husband got angry and said something like, ‘Can’t you see that she’s pregnant? It’s not that hard to just bring out garlic bread without garlic.’”

I’m with the server. Not hard, perhaps, to provide what the pregnant lady wanted – if you had any idea what the young couple was actually talking about.

But it didn’t end there

“The kitchen staff brought out the regular bread for her,” the server wrote. “She immediately starts crying and asking me if I was treating her like an idiot. How could I treat a pregnant woman so badly? Is it that hard to make garlic bread without garlic? But literally, we do nothing different to our garlic bread except use garlic butter instead of regular butter. Her husband flagged down a manager, telling me I was being condescending and that his wife had been craving this all week but garlic was making her nauseous.”

“The manager apologized and took the bread back and told me to just bring out another loaf of bread with garlic butter on the side. I was a little annoyed, but I did it and gave it to them. The husband got angry again, told the manager I was being intentionally difficult and cruel, then left with his wife who ate the ‘garlic-free garlic bread’, using the garlic butter.” [Boldface Italics mine.]

So… When is garlic bread NOT garlic bread?

Cool hand Newman

In the movie Cool Hand Luke (1967), a chain gang captain played by celebrated character actor Strother Martin famously declared, “What we got here is failure to communicate.” He’s commenting wryly on the latest incident in which convict Luke (played by Paul Newman) has refused to cooperate with the authorities. In this case, it was one smart ass up against another in  a contest of wills. In the garlic bread scenario, it was simply one party unable to decode what the other was trying to get across.

Setting aside, for a moment, the arrogantly entitled attitude of the pregnant lady and her uppity husband, I have a few observations to share:

First, the customer couple start by expressing their request using a certain sequence of words. But continue trying to get across their request to the server in subsequent exchanges by repeating the same sequence of word. It was Albert Einstein who said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. What did the customer couple not understand about their ‘failure to communicate’?

Second, the server tried politely (but perhaps not clearly enough) that she needed more info to understand the customers’ request. The customers apparently understand that, either.

Third, I feel it was way out of line for the customers to insist on asking for something that did not exist. Since we’re using lot of quotes today, I’ll point out that there’s an old saying in the service industries, that, ‘the customer is always right’. Except, I suggest, when the customers are too obscure. Or their communications skills are too ineffective to make themselves understood.

Fourth –  and I wax practical here for a moment – what did the customers think Garlic Bread was, actually? How did they think is was made?

Fifth, why did the husband (and later the wife, too) have to get so downright condescending and deprecating toward the server – and, by association, the kitchen staff, as well?

Your mission, should you choose to accept it…

I’ve suggested several places in the incident where the customers could have handled things differently, causing less unpleasantness and stress all around. What might the manager the server have done differently, or in addition to what they did do, to defuse the matter?

Muse on that…

~ Maggie J.