Customer Service Jumps the Shark

February 22, 2010 at 4:21 pm 6 comments

Today at lunchtime, I went to a sub shop touting really great sandwiches in an old-fashioned atmosphere. (In other words, not a Subway; nicer seating than a fast food place but without menus or waiters.) Standing in line at the counter to order, I spied “cheese steak” among a sparse list of choices. Now, for the past few weeks, I’ll admit I’ve had an unhealthy, totally-not-vegitarian, artery-clogging, there-is-no-way-I’m-getting-one  hankering for a cheese steak.

My resistance to this point was aided by the knowledge that the cheese steak I was really craving hasn’t been made for 20-some years. What I wanted was a Delti Chi cheese steak. (And I say that with apologies to any college friends who may read this who will now also be hopelessly craving one.)

Nothing else on the list really appealed to me, so, with naughty glee, I stepped up to the counter. The conversation went something like this.

Overly Cheerful:  What will you have?

Me:  The cheese steak.

Overly Cheerful:  What size?

Me (looking up at the various signage and thinking, if I’m going to be bad, I’ll feel better if I just get the): Small.

Overly Cheerful:  What type of bread?

Me:  Um, what are the options?

Not Quite As Cheerful:  There’s wheat, everything, and sesame.

Me (thinking that none of those sounds like the basis for a good cheese steak):  Uh…

Overly Patient:  And, we have seedless. (Note:  Apparently, seedless is what normal people would call a plain white hoagie roll.)

Me:  Yes, I’ll have that.

Obviously Relieved:  Okay.

Me:  I’d like that without green peppers.

Back to Overly Cheerful:  Okay.

Me:  Do you have mushrooms?

She Finds This Question Very Odd:  No.

Me (thinking, who the hell makes a cheese steak without the option of mushrooms but for some bizarre reason, I am bending over backwards to be very polite because of that sorta-kinda embarrassment even the most grown-up or confident human being among us feels when forced to follow some secret process that the teenagers behind the counter expect you to be familiar with):  Oh, all right, no problem.

Rattling:  D’ya-want-mayo-mustard-ketchup-Italian-‘r-any-dressing? D’y’want lettuce? D’y’want tomato?

Me:  No. No. No.

Incredulous:  You don’t want anything else?

Me (hmm, she seems so surprised, I must have forgotten something. What did I forget!?):  Um, no?

Speaking Really Slowly:  Sooooo, you just want onions and steak…?

Me (smiling and laughing a bit, cause, ya know, on a cheese steak, one would assume you don’t have to ask):  Well, I want cheese.

Why The Hell Are You Just Telling Me This Now?:  What kind of cheese?

Me:  (Well, it should be provolone, shouldn’t it? Oh my gawd, the way she is looking at me? What if I get this wrong? I have the urge to yell “Mulligatawny!” It is provolone, isn’t it?): Um, whatever you normally put on a cheese steak?

Blatant Eye-rolling:  We have American, Swiss, Mozarella, Provolone…

Me:  Provolone, please. (omg, did I just say please? I did. I just said please.)

She mumbled something (she was standing there in person but as incomprehensible as if she were talking to me through a drive-thru speaker) and gave me a dirty look. I took that to mean that my order was complete, and I moved forward toward the cash register, too intimidated and rattled to even consider a side dish, a beverage, or a cookie.

So. It wasn’t the worst cheese steak I’ve ever had. But it certainly wasn’t worth the hassle or the 8 bucks.

I understand that restaurants think it is swell of them to let you have things your way, but it’s not like I walked in and said, “Hullo, I’d like a sandwich.” I ordered A Cheese Steak. And, I would be willing to bet that, to 99.99% of anyone who has ever ordered one, options like swiss cheese, “everything bread,” mustard, or Italian dressing do not even cross their mind.

Burgers are made for a variety of options. Same with hot dogs. But a cheese steak is a thing. It is very thinly sliced, fried meat; it’s cheese melted to that point of a moment before a solid becomes a liquid; it’s juicy enough not to require any dressing; and it’s all greasy enough to magically morph with the inside layer of the (seedless) bread.

That’s a given, isn’t it?

Entry filed under: Humor - Commentary. Tags: , , , , .

Grilled Cheese Wisdom Where I’d Like to Put the Snow

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. ruth  |  February 23, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    So totally a given!
    BTW, best cheese steak that I ever had: in South Philly—that damn cheese is already melted in a can sitting on teh grill….just plain awesome!

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  • 2. WritingbyEar  |  February 23, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    Oh my gawd — are you talking about the cheese steaks some frat at UPJ used to sell door-to-door in the dorms? They were sheer heaven wrapped up in foil. It was a good thing I was a poor student or my Freshman 10 would have turned into a Freshman 20 in a heartbeat. We always had to split one among 2 or 3 of us. You’re right, darn you, my mouth is watering just thinking about them. I would drive a long way to get one of those again and have it taste exactly the same. (And I would have to buy a few for the freezer.)

    How can you not have mushrooms available for a cheese steak? (And, sorry to the purists, I like mayo on mine — good ‘n’ sloppy.)

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    • 3. boatdrinkbaby  |  February 24, 2010 at 5:53 am

      YES! That’s the one. haha omg, weren’t they THEE best?

      Another excellent cheese steak that I have not had in a couple of years and miss . . . Nick’s in Dewey Beach. We were always trying to figure out ways to bring some home with us . . . and it’s just not possible. I think that’s part of the cheese steak mystique :)

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  • 4. WritingbyEar  |  February 24, 2010 at 8:50 am

    I was under the impression that the frat purchased them from someplace in Johnstown. Do ya think that could be true and “that place” might still exist? I wonder if there’s any way to know if they’re still selling them on campus?

    Not that I want to make this my life’s work or anything…

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    • 5. boatdrinkbaby  |  February 24, 2010 at 9:08 am

      Hmm. I thought they made them themselves. Because everybody always said they must have “added something special” (being Delti Chi and all) that made them so good.

      But . . . if “that place” exists, I’m thinking you and I need to meet to discuss marketing with a new client in Johnstown area ;)

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  • 6. Meg  |  February 27, 2010 at 2:51 am

    Yum. No Cheesesteaks in Iowa. I don’t even think they sell Steak-Um’s!!

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