Legendary Regulars

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Customer Hall of Fame

Posted: 11/28/2011

Today’s post comes courtesy of Darren Tully, a loyal reader and commentor on this blog. Darren works at a take-away food counter in Dublin, Ireland. He sent me the following email over the weekend that I am sharing with his permission. This is priceless.

I love customers who you can have a laugh with. One of my regulars, I’ll call her “Mel”, is like that. Mel is 80 years old, and despite needing a zimmer frame, she insists on waiting like everyone else to place her order. She is unbelievably funny and always has a kind word to say, even if she has a complaint to make. I admit that I’m very fond of her. She always asks to speak to me whenever she’s in, and I consider her to be like one of my great aunties.

I was on closing shift tonight so there were only two of us, myself on counter and my friend on tables and dish room. Out of nowhere we got a mini rush in the last 15 minutes. As lines go, it was no big deal. There was no huge wait for the customers, but I had one incredibly impatient woman in the line, a nominee for your Customer Hall of Shame.

When I finally got to serve her I greeted her with a big smile, but before I could say anything she snarled, “Tea to go, NOW!” And that was it–she didn’t speak to me again, she only glared for the rest of transaction. I don’t really understand why she acted that way, I was serving everyone ahead of her in a speedy and friendly manner, but I guess there is no pleasing some people.

Mel was in the line behind her and watched the whole thing. As the woman was walking away, Mel shuffled up and said, “Not enough dick, that’s what her problem is.”, loud enough for everyone, including the woman, to overhear. It was so funny. The other customers were either giggling or standing slack-jawed, and the woman was shaking with indignant rage as she left.

I thought I was going to explode from holding the laughter in, I honestly don’t know how I wasn’t rolling around on the floor behind the counter. 

I absolutley love customers like “Mel”. Here’s to Darren Tulley and all of the Mel’s of the world who speak up and say what every worker would love to, but can’t. Mel is a shoo-in for my Customer Hall of Fame.

Please share your stories about customers who have come to your defense and called out other asshole customers. Thank you.

9 Responses to “Legendary Regulars”

  1. ptsaldari says:

    Loved this.. shared it to my wall… hope it generates more traction for ya! Wishing you the best holiday season evvvvaaaa!
    Hugs Pen

  2. Big Paulie says:

    God bless Mel. She’s distilled the problems of the world into three simple words.

    Here in the U.S., we all know that there’re plenty of “dicks” who’d probably be far less dick-ish if they got a little lovin’. Yet another reason to legalize prostitution…

  3. michelle Lopez says:

    I love it ! I wish I could have seen that. Sharing it on my wall .

  4. Estelindis says:

    Freaking hilarious! Hooray for Dar and three cheers for Mel!

  5. hank says:

    On the topic of older adults’ reference to sex…I was standing in line waiting to order a coffee with my 87 year-old friend and artist Tom on the Alaska Highway in 1991 and, in order to be friendly w/small talk…and completely out of the blue, Tom said to a guy in line with us “Are ya gett’in any?”

    Tom had married a gal 34 years his junior and had a child who was 14 when I met him. He was a Bar Harbor artist who drove to Alaska unannounced and without an address to surprise his nephew Jim. We found Jim who ran the Iditarod that year. Tom photographed and painted many scenes of the qualifying races, as well as the Iditarod that March.

  6. Eleanor says:

    This story is so funny, I couldn’t stop laughing when I read it. It does actually remind me of something my late great auntie Kathleen would say-she was a character.

  7. Dee Short says:

    Of course, it’s funny when a sweet elderly person says something that seems out of character and especially when they speak to what most people might be thinking–but wouldn’t say–about a person behaving badly. But I think that there’s a larger issue. Case in point: my husband works in facilities for a small inn on a prestigious campus. This past Thanksgiving day, he arrived to find that a guest was upset about her bath towel. Apparently, it had a few fabric pulls in it. She was ‘offended’ by the towel, and wouldn’t ‘give the towel to her dog’. Oh, and by the way, her toilet was clogged, but apparently that wasn’t as offensive. When he told me the story, I was incensed by the ridiculousness of the complaint. I thought: I want to live a life where my biggest concern is the condition of a towel. But when I had a chance to reflect on it (and with this post in my mind), I realized that things are never really what they seem. I’m not defending either the rude tea woman or the offended towel woman, but it seems to me that both behaviors deserve to be more pitied than scorned or scoffed at. To me, it’s clear that when a person behaves so over the top, there are underlying issues that we couldn’t begin to understand. The civilized world has become terribly askew. For all we know, the rude tea woman was in a horrible hurry to get to (fill in the blank). And for all we know, the rude towel woman was embarrassed that her bowel movement would be on view to my husband, who had to clear it. I guess what I’m saying is it’s easy to jump on the obvious, but maybe we can be a little more civilized by taking a page from Buddhist philosophy, which in part says that we are more than our emotions.

  8. Jeff Toister says:

    Thanks for sharing that terrific story. I lived in Dublin for a few months and really appreciated the Irish culture and sense of humor. And, you gotta love it when a customer says to another customer what you really want to say yourself but know you shouldn’t.

  9. Debbie Morella says:

    I don’t know how he held in his laughter, I don’t think I would have been able to.I love the elderly – they have no filter and come out with the funniest things.But most of the time, I want to do like Dee says – try to understand and feel for whatever they’re going through. When the customers I know real well are cranky I speak up and say, “sounds like someone needs a nap”. But that wouldn’t work for the ones I don’t know. There are times when I feel like saying something like, “you look like you could use a hug”, but of course I don’t. Hey, maybe when I’m elderly – then they would just think I was cute instead of thinking I overstepped my boundaries.

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