Thousand Yard Stare

Working in a full service environment like a deli, people have to tell us what they want.  In order to do so, they must know what their heart desires, whether it be greasy sliced meat, greasy fried chicken, or grease on a bread roll.  This means examining the product in the case and the prices/deals on our signs.  People often come to an area, neck rolled back, looking up at one of our signs.

I see it in their faces.  Older people are the worst.  They get that look in their eye, and squint their eyes down into small cracks that pierce the non-existent secrets our signs hold.

Some are more descriptive than others.  My sandwich bar lists all the ingredients for each specialty sandwich, in addition to a full list of possible condiments and toppings, which can be overwhelming to people.  Sometimes people are overwhelmed.  I understand if you’ve never had a sandwich before.  Narrowing down their decisions speeds the process along.  Mayo and mustard on that?

One particular customer had a stare to pierce the heavens.  She started her journey through the deli at our meat counter, that has a sign with the bare minumum of writing, just listing the types of meats we carry.  The case displays the chubs we have in stock and what prices they carry.

I came to her before her stare could have a chance to wander eagerly my way, searching for service from the far end of the deli.  I’ll make it easy for you.  I asked her what she wanted. Her stare remained locked to our sign.  She said she was still looking. I said she could call me when she was ready.

I go back to the never ending task of stocking my sandwich bar, and eventually I received a wave from her.  “What can I get you?”

“Can I just get, like, a pastrami sandwich?”

Yes.  Yes, you can.  Right at the place I just was.  That’s where we make sandwiches.  At the sandwich bar.  I even have pastrami right there just waiting to go on a sandwich.

She heads over with me on the opposite side of the counter and once again locks eyes with my signs that have at least ten times more information.  My coworker is talking to another customer and helping them checkout, which I guess was just enough stimuli for her to react.  She starts digging through her purse which is reminiscent of a magical Harry Potter sack.  Okay, she’s seen our prices and she wants to see if she has enough.  Digging continues, and I don’t have the faintest idea what bread to start her sandwich on.

She finally produces her purse and tries to fork over money.  “Did you need me to pay now?”  No, that was my coworker, and it wasn’t directed at you.   I’ll make your sandwich first.  At this point, pulling her attention away from the signs gives me a chance to point out ingredients in their physical form which will hopefully allow her mind to process what her taste buds want.  Eventually we had a proper sandwich, which was promptly passed off to her.  I hope whoever ended up checking her out got cash from her, and not have to walk her through the pinpad process.

%d bloggers like this: