Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fast Food and the Breakdown in Communication

I just went through DQ for my favorite treat -- a Brownie Batter Blizzard. The girl came over the speaker and asked for my order.

I said, "I would like a Brownie Batter Blizzard, please."
She said something that I couldn't quite hear, but I figured she was asking what size, since I had forgotten to say.

"I would like a small one, please." I said.

"So, that's one medium and one small Brownie Batter Blizzard?" she asked.

"No, I'm sorry," I said, realizing that she had probably asked if I had wanted anything else. "I just want ONE, SMALL, Brownie Batter Blizzard."

She gave me my total and told me to pull to the second window. When I got to the second window, she said, "So that's one Medium Brownie Batter blizzard?"

I looked at her a second, then repeated in the exact same way I had just said it 15 seconds ago, "No, I would like one small Brownie Batter Blizzard."

She looked a tad distressed, and that's when I saw that the girl behind her was already filling a medium cup up with ice cream. I gave up. "I'll just take a medium, that's fine." I said. Apparently it was important to them that I eat a medium blizzard today. I really shouldn't let them down.

Then the girl at the window indicated to the girl filling up my blizzard, "She says you used to be her English teacher." I took a second look at my former student and greeted her.

Then the girl said, "She can't speak good English," to which I laughed good naturedly, and she shut the window overcome with giggles at having teased her friend. (I refrained from telling her that perhaps the problem was
she couldn't understand English.)

All was pleasant as I completed my transaction, and my blizzard was delicious. However, while I realize that we did have a miscommunication at first, I nevertheless feel that we are running out of options when it comes to communication these days. It used to be that we relied on the spoken word, but that seems to be failing us. Dairy Queen isn't the first -- nor will it be the last -- place to get my very simple order wrong. Whataburger just about grinds to a halt when I ask for a plain dry cheeseburger with jalapenos. They can't resist just dabbing a little mustard on it. They just can't fathom that I mean what I say. Or perhaps they aren't listening, or maybe they disagree with my choice of food and they have a better idea.

One of these days, we are just going to have to bring hand puppets along and act out a skit for the benefit of the fast food staff. One puppet will ask for a small blizzard, then the other puppet will try to prepare a
medium blizzard. Then the first puppet will pull out three different blizzard cup sizes and sing a song about small, medium, and large, until the other puppet understands and even sings the chorus himself. Once the staff can sing along, I will know they understand, and I'll get what I ordered.

That's what we are going to have to do eventually to get good service.

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