My anxiety was high and I was very nervous. I was on a date with my wife and there was something that I had to get off my chest. It may have been one of the hardest things I have had to do in a while (which is saying a lot), but when I looked down at my plate and back at the waitress, I had to tell her — my order was wrong.
I know for most of you this may seem easy to do. If the order is wrong, you tell the server that it is wrong and that you would like what you originally ordered. But dang my Minnesota niceness usually gets in the way and I decide to eat what was brought anyway. It is the “I guess I can live with it” mantra.
But this time it was different. I had ordered a buffalo crispy chicken melt with no tomato, regular fries and honey mustard and ranch as dipping sauces. What I got was all of the above but I had grilled chicken instead of crispy. Not the end of the world by any means, but I wasn’t in the mood for something that I could have prepared at home with the food in the house.
Rewind to 10 minutes before we received our food. My wife and I were munching on popcorn at the booth and talking about a variety of things, how her family was doing, our children starting kids camp, T-ball and dance. The night had been going pretty well as we relaxed in the dimmed area of the restaurant.
Then our food came.
Everything looked great from the view. My wife had ordered a chicken Caesar wrap and fries and my meal appeared to be right. I began eating my fries as I tasted the honey mustard dipping sauce for flavor and texture (still spilled a little on my pants). When I grabbed the sandwich, I decided to make sure that the waitress heard “no tomato.” I pulled apart the bun, was relieved to see that there was not a tomato but noticed my chicken was not golden brown and crispy but pale-brown and charred.
As someone who has been a server, I always try to be polite. There have been two times that I can remember when dining out that I actually was upset with the service. The first involved a trip to a certain wing restaurant where the waitress was a bit smothering and the second was at another restaurant where our casual dress and lack of alcoholic drink order seemed to give the waitress the thought “they aren’t spending money on drinks, so they probably won’t tip well.” She was right on that as she didn’t refill our sodas the entire meal and didn’t check back on us until both my wife and I had finished our meals.
In this circumstance, our waitress was on top of everything — drinks, sides, more popcorn, plate removal, you name it. I felt guilty as she brought my plate back to the kitchen and told the cook that the plate needed to be remade with crispy chicken. After about five minutes, she returned with my meal, new fries and dipping sauces included. It was delicious.
I really liked the way she bounced back from the hiccup. She didn’t avoid our table and continued to provide us with drink refills and the like. We tipped her accordingly as the mixup wasn’t a huge deal.
Although I felt like it was going to be a big deal to the waitress, it was clear it wasn’t as bad. I realized that I need to be more assertive and not worry that I will hurt the feelings of those that are working for me. Maybe one day I will overcome my need to be Minnesota nice and let those know what is really right.
Zach Stich is the managing editor of The Fergus Falls Daily Journal. His column appears Friday.