So the hotel I’m staying at has a cafe attached to it. Together, the hotel and cafe offer a rather convenient breakfast service: Specify your order on the cafe menu, and hang the menu from your doorknob before midnight, and your breakfast will be delivered at a time you specify in the morning.
After taking the train in that afternoon, walking over 30 city blocks, unpacking all my things and settling in for the night, I decided that I was due for a rather gluttonous breakfast. I scanned my menu and checked off my items accordingly:
1 – Cheese Omelette (w/ Hash Browns)
3 – Sausage Links
3 – Pancakes (w/ Fresh Fruit)
1 – Whole Milk
Yeah, I was aware that my meal choices amounted to nutritional insanity, but I easily rationalized that by telling myself 1) the fresh fruit balances everything out, and 2) who cares, I’m traveling.
More important than my personal health, keep in mind that the menu clearly stated “PLEASE SPECIFY QUANTITY” next to each item, and at the very bottom where it asked “How many orders?” I wrote “1,” as in one order.
At 7am the next morning, I got a knock on the door. I answered it, and there stood the delivery guy holding two full grocery bags as if he’d just come from the ACME market. Too groggy to realize the error, I took the bags and signed the check, thinking “Why the fuck is this guy looking around as if there should be other people here??” Once I bade him farewell, I took the bags over to the desk and started emptying them. This is what I got:
Now, when it comes to glitches in commerce, I like to resolve things using The Goof Method. You see, when I was 16 years old, my first real job was working as a clerk in a real estate office. The head realtor was Ms. Brown, a middle-aged black woman who I swore was the surly twin sister of “Nell Harper” from that sitcom Gimme A Break! During the very beginning of my training period, Ms. Brown succinctly explained what would happen should somebody mishandle the rent monies that her tenants brought by: “I goof, I pay. You goof, you pay.” It just made sense.
So back to the breakfast: they goofed. The menu had prompted me to specify the number of each item, not the number of orders of each item. So a “3” next to pancakes should have meant three pancakes, not three sets of three. Furthermore, I still might’ve been tipped off had the menu specified how many pancakes or sausages were already included, but it didn’t do that either. And to top things off, it asked “How many orders?” at the very bottom. Yeah, poor customer interface. Their fault.
I thought of Nell Harp– err, Ms. Brown, as I surveyed the meal. I should have called them back, pointed out the error and demanded they take away the extra food, adjust my bill and make the next meal free for all the trouble it caused. Yeah. Instead, I ate what I wanted to eat and tossed the rest. Truth is, I had a class at 8am, and I also wasn’t in the mood to bitch at the same people who’d be making my food the next morning.
There were those reasons, plus the most pressing one: I was hungry. And at 7:00 in the morning, an order of pancakes multiplied by three smells daaamn good.