How Much are Three Slices of an Olive Worth?

Objects in this photo may appear larger then they actually are.

Objects in photo are larger than they appear.

Years ago I began a weekly post titled, “Winner or Wiener.”  It was written to encourage companies that practiced excellent customer service and to encourage change in businesses that practiced poor service.  I stopped writing the post because I was too tempted to make it a rant against poor service I had  experienced.

Today I gave into that temptation.  I couldn’t help it.  This experience was too hilarious not to pass along.  I know you will think I made this up, but it actually happened.  I have witnesses who had to restrain me.  At the end of the post you can answer the question, what are three slices of an olive worth.

The old axiom,  “The Customer is Always Right “  is wrong –  at least when it comes to olives and sandwiches. I visited a sandwich place recently. I won’t tell you the name of the place, because it will make you think badly about underground trains.  I placed an order for a six inch, toasted Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki sandwich on a Honey Oat bun with lettuce, tomatoes and olives. I had no idea that in only a few seconds it would be I who would be toasted.

When my sandwich was ready the young woman behind the counter asked,

“What would you like on your sandwich?”

“Lettuce,” I said and then watched incredulously as she sprinkled a “fairy dusting” of lettuce on my sandwich.

I smiled, “No seriously, I want more than just the essence of lettuce, I would like to have a small mound of lettuce on my sandwich.  You know, like in the pictures.”  I pointed to the pictures of overstuffed sandwiches on the wall.

She fixed me with an icy stare as she sprinkled another dusting of  lettuce on the bread.

“Anything else?” she snapped.

“Yes. Olives please.”

My mouth dropped open as I watched her deposit three tiny slices of Olive on top of the scattered lettuce.

Three slices of an olive!!!

I didn’t even need to count. The number just registered automatically.  You shouldn’t be able to glance at a sandwich and know exactly how many olive slices are on it. A serving of olive slices should be innumerable. There should be enough so some of the slices are hidden underneath.  I shouldn’t know the precise total, unless I’m Rainman.

“Anything else?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said still smiling. “Please put some olives on there!”

This is the gospel truth…..  She carefully reached into the bin with her plastic gloved hand and added one more olive slice. Bringing the total number of olive slices to four.

“Anything else?”

My smile disappeared, I was more intense now.  “Olives! More Olives! And oh yes, Olives would be nice.”

“I did already,” she scolded. “We’re only supposed to give you three olive slices.”

I suppose I should have gotten the point.  We gotta conserve for sandwiches of future generations. It’s not like olives grow on trees. While I was trying to figure my next move, she pointed at a hidden sticky note on her side of the counter.

“The sign says only three slices per customer.” As if that scrap of paper was the final authority. A sacred parchment revealing the timeless, irrefutable truth of sandwich construction.

“And after the third olive slice, you shall proclaim ‘It is finished!’” 

No wonder that guy Jared lost so much weight eating at this place.  A slice of bread, a fleck of lettuce and three olive slices.  My guess is he had to sneak out to McDonald’s just to survive.

The note thing sent me over the edge.  I made a proclamation!  “If there actually is a paper back there that says the customer is only allowed three olive slices, I promise I will never set foot in this establishment again.”  Before I could vault the counter to see if the sign actually existed another employee came out to explain that three olive slices was only the recommended dose.  If the customer asked for more they could have more, evidently in increments of one slice at a time.

I didn’t want to create a scene so I just relaxed….. as my travel companions dragged me kicking and screaming from the unnamed establishment.

Here are some facts to consider.

This was not a unique experience, it was just the most uniquely bizarre experience.  I have been treated like an inconvenience to the people who operate this chain for a long time and have considered taking my business elsewhere for  years.  My friend, the one who encouraged me to leave, (read: dragged me out) told me his wife had once been told not to come back because she had the audacity to request visible amounts of food on her sandwich.

I am not one to jump on a boycott bandwagon.  I don’t care if some of the ingredients in this establishment’s  sandwiches are used to make yoga mats.  At least you can see a yoga mat.

In all fairness, in a few of these franchises I have seen some amazing exceptions to the rule.  In the mountains of Colorado and in Brentwood, Tennessee you will find cheerful people with smiling faces dispensing reasonable servings of food.  In those establishments the employees actually look up and avoid yawning as they say, Welcome to “the underground railway.”

HOWEVER good friendly service should be the NORM, not the EXCEPTION.

By contrast, I pulled into a fast food establishment not long ago only to discover a young man standing beside my car with an umbrella.  It seemed a little strange.  “Can I help you?”  I said as I opened my car door to a steady rain.  “No,” the young man responded, “it is my pleasure to help you.”  On that day, the restaurant had assigned several people to help customers get into the building without getting wet.  The name of the restaurant will go unnamed but it rhymes with chik filet.  These people are the flagship for over the top, extra mile service. 

It’s my pleasure to help you!

Is there anything else I can do for you?

Enjoy your olives!

Let’s do a little math.  I travel 150 days a year.  I like the sandwiches at the unnamed restaurant and like the convenience of their locations. If  I eat at “unspoken underground railway,” two thirds of the time I am on the road, I will spend approximately 800 to 1000 dollars a year. So will the people who travel with me.  That adds up to more than 3000 dollars a year. 

After the accumulative affect of consistent poor service, all of us are considering avoiding the hassle of surly faces and having to beg for food, even if the begging location is convenient. If we decide to go elsewhere, I am sure our 3000 dollars will not be missed, but the company will save on olives.  But back to the original question.

How much are a few slices of olive worth?
What experience have you had with good service?
Have you ever had a funny, bad service experience?