It's all just a toss of a coin

               "It's all just a toss of a coin"

               I want to believe that my behavior didn't change much either way after people started with the Seinfeld character comparisons.  There was certainly no tempering of my actions but it’s up to others to decide if if had gotten any worse.

                The lunch period of each day was our opportunity to make money.  If anything happened to damper those few hours the day wasn't going to be profitable.  Snow storm, road closure, water main break, bank robbery, rain, falling ice from buildings, construction projects, excessive heat, wind blowing building parts off  - all these things happened repeatedly.  When the sun was shining, we wanted to make hay. 
              
                As I stated before, this included customer behaviors, so very many customer behaviors.  Some were just unaware, some didn't care, and others were just socially awkward.  I am not always proud of my responses to those actions and it certainly caused a few problems. 
               
                This particular day was a very busy, busy Thursday.  I know it was Thursday because we served what I liked to call “neighborhood famous” bisque.  Every Thursday we made oyster artichoke bisque and those customers that had a taste for the soup knew the schedule.   I have a severe allergy to iodine and oysters and I have agreed to part ways.  This was of course after I lost every fight with most seafood.  The fishes won and I no longer challenge their authority.  I have never tasted this wondrous soup, but the lines at the store told me it was good enough to keep making. 
        That day many of the same people came for the soup like they did every week and then others were just there for whatever else was on the menu.  I like to think that I had a good rapport with many of the customers and that we had some good moments for the short period of time we interacted each day.  
      Of those regulars two particular lawyers were quite non-stereotypical.  They were funny and much less competitive than the usual attorneys.  In addition neither was ever really offended by my antics.  Brad and Bryan were patent attorneys  and helped me Trademark the name of the business.  The B’s would occasionally bring in clients or coworkers.  One gentleman started hanging with them on Thursday’s  after the B's introduced him to the soup.  He didn't have the same sense of humor as the B’s but he still liked the place.  Oh, he tried to be one the guys but it just wasn't happening.  I was much nicer to him because of this noticeable social deficiency. 
               
              On this day the new guy wanted to try and participate in the verbal sparring that the B’s and I regularly engaged in.  We had a new girl working with us and we usually put the new employee on the register during the  busy times in hopes that they would not get overwhelmed.

          Regular customers knew they could get their food quick and sit and eat before paying. When there was a lull at the counter they would pay their tab, but today there was no lull. After they ate, the boys had to get back to work and they all snuck up one side of the line to pay at the register while I kept working. I would say that there were at least 10 to 15 people still in line to be served.

                New guy being himself didn’t get the big picture here.  I was just too busy to engage.  He on the other hand, wanted to complain that this new employee had overcharged him.  He was having a disagreement with her over the price as compared to his lunch companions.  I overheard most of the conversation but was occupied with the line of customers.  The new employee seemed to handle the first of his arguments professionally and I think she was accurate in her description of the transaction, but he was not satisfied so he tried again. The B’s were leaning toward the door as they had already paid and were ready to go.  New guy persisted.  I turned my head and reiterated the argument she presented. He had asked for additional food - we served it to him - hence his bill was higher.  Still no good.  Perhaps I misunderstood the situation and he had a point that I was missing.  Perhaps he was just trying to be one of the guys and start a little ribbing of his own.  I really don’t know what was going on in his head.  What I do know is that the customers were noticing and I was getting agitated.  After what seemed like an eternity, the new guy was not going away or willing to concede to my points.  This caused me to leave the production line and take the four steps to the register.  I am irritated and it shows.  I am also not speaking.  Customers are watching and the line is backing up.
 
                The door to the store was about 25 feet in front of the counter and was closed because we were trying to keep the cool air in and the assholes out.  So far, not so good.  I walked to the register, gently moved the new girl aside and hit the no sale button.  The drawer opened and I was about to put an end to this problem that was costing me money.  I grabbed a quarter and a dime out of the register and with my palm facing down cupped the 35 cents in my fingertips to drop it in his hand.  Yes, he was complaining out 35 cents on a $8.00 order. 

                I can’t say when or why I made this decision but I can tell you there was very little thought involved.  As he reached for the coins I snatched my hand back and raised my arm over my shoulder.  In one motion and sentence I tossed the coins over all the customers and bounced them off the front door and said “You can get them on your way out.”  I didn't wait for a response and just went back to work.  The B’s could be heard snickering and the other customers had their eyebrows reaching for the ceiling.  Things were calm the rest of the day and I am certain I should feel mortified about my behavior.  The story made its rounds through the neighborhood and only added to the growing reputation and marketing of the restaurant.   
 I didn't see the new guy again for at least three years. The B's still came in with the same regularity and often just to get a cookie after they had lunch at another spot. 

             The first day the new guy made his way into the store was on one of these visits. We acknowledged each other with an uncertain tension of the others potential actions, but all was polite. After that he only stopped in on a rare occasion and I can't say that he ever bought anything again. The customer service side of me knows this was a bad decision. The marketing side wonders if the tale created folklore of my antics  that was positive while the financial side tries to add up the gains and losses of those other two sides. 
             The B's reminded me of that incident for several years to come, either directly or through some snide (yet funny) reference.  If I had put even one second of thought into my actions the situation would have transpired differently. I didn't, and when that pattern of action over thought occurred in the future it created many of the stories in this chronicle.