What does the Z Deli have to do with Broadway?

A couple of weeks ago, I made my daily trip to the Z Deli
on 8th Ave and 49th St., which is just a block away from my office.  I got my
usual mid-afternoon snack of Red Bull, a cup of ice and some vanilla wafer
cookies (Mom, please don’t comment . . . Just let me eat like a 12-year-old boy
already, ok?).  I went to pay and the cashier rang me up wrong.  I
asked, “Are you sure that’s $4.50 because the sign below the Red Bull says
$3.95.”  She made a face like she had just seen a cat get run over by a
bulldozer, sighed, and then screamed annoyingly to a subordinate to check the
price.  She was wrong.  She didn’t say anything, corrected the
mistake and charged me the right amount.

A few days later, there I was again, with my Red Bull and wafers (Mom – zip
it), and a different cashier rang me up . . . wrong.  I asked, “Are you
sure that’s right?”  The cashier paused, and then up walked you-know-who.
She looked at me and said, “Ugh.  He always does this.”  I
looked at her like I had just seen a cat on water skis.  I was so
confused, because she was wrong both times.  I said, “But I was
overcharged.”  She said, “Whatever” and walked away.

And then you know what I did?  I paid the wrong price for the goodies
because I really didn’t care that much, and then I walked away . . . and never
walked back.


Because in New York City, there’s another deli on every block.

I counted it up, just for kicks.  That woman’s ‘tude cost that deli about
$10 – $15,000 a year in Red Bull, wafers, slices of pizza, batteries, paper
towels and all the other stuff that I’d buy within the course of one year.
I bet if that owner knew what this woman in need of anger-management
classes was doing to his customers he’d have some ‘tude of his own.

So what does this have to do with Broadway?

Just like there’s a deli on every block, there’s another show on every block .
. . And more importantly, there are so many other entertainment options on
every device known to man available to your potential customers.  If you
think you can afford to pee-off just one person, you may just lose them to Netflix, the net or their cousin Nancy . . . forever.

And maybe the Z Deli can afford it.  But the theater can’t.


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  • Richard says:

    Unfortunately, we all have stories like this. Hate to sound like a curmudgeon, but this kind of thing just didn’t happen routinely 20 years ago. It is one of the top 10 things that’s wrong with America and why the American Empire is slowly crumbling.
    It’s one thing for the woman to have gotten irritated at her routine being put out of joint, it’s another for her to overcharge you twice and kvetch, implying that you’re cheap or not worth her time.
    Everyone wants low hanging fruit.
    I’m with you. We need to exercise our options and free ourselves from the chains that enslave us to routines that don’t work for us.

  • Douglas Hicton says:

    Well, I think the correct thing to do would be to talk to her boss and get her sacked or at least disciplined. You know why this crappy attitude flourishes? Because we’re expected to accept it quietly.
    So you didn’t go back after that incident? Wow, I’m sure the cashier thinks that’s a really BFD — well, no, actually, I’m sure she doesn’t think of you at all. Five minutes after you left the establishment, you ceased to exist for her. You are merely an obstacle she must hurdle in order to get her minimum wage paycheque.
    Meanwhile, she just blithely goes on as before, spewing the ‘tude, nothing gets corrected, and the over-all tenor of human interaction, especially commercial interaction, is cheapened.
    It didn’t have to turn out that way. Customer service used to be a matter of pride. Now it’s just an expensive inconvenience. And it’s all because people are just too fucking lazy to complain about bad service. But oh, well.
    If I were in your place, I’d have insisted on seeing the manager, and if the manager weren’t present, or if the cashier wouldn’t get the manager on the phone for me to talk to, I might very well have crushed the cookies, poured the Red Bull, ice, and cookie fragments on the floor, tipped one of the tables over, and left, perhaps even without paying. Then and only then would I refuse to go brighten their door ever again. Disdain shouldn’t be answered with more disdain, but with wrath.
    By the way — and this is very much on-topic — when did “Uh-huh” and “M-hm” become acceptable replies to “Thank you”? When I thank someone, I really don’t want it insultingly dismissed with The Grunt. It’s like they’re throwing my apparently worthless thank-you back in my face. The only civilized responses to “Thank you” are “You’re welcome” or, even better, “It’s my pleasure”. That’s the one I use.
    I first encountered The Grunt in the late ’90s when I was working in Group Sales at Livent HQ, and I’d be dealing with customers in Buffalo, Chicago, and Detroit, so I don’t know if it’s a generational thing or a U.S. thing. It’s definitely an unacceptably rude thing, though, and I never, ever heard it growing up in Saskatchewan.

  • Bob Gutowski says:

    Ken – what’s with the cat similes?

  • Scott says:

    Actually, why you even go to that joint at all… If I’m not mistaken, Red Bull sells for less at any Duane Reade (within a block or so from the over-priced Z). And yes, you should have spoken or contacted her superior. She’ll keep charging the wrong price until someone changes it on the shelf – probably UP – but at least it would match what gets rung up. NOT letting anyone know keeps the errors and the rudeness going.

  • Spalding says:

    Wait…you spend $10-$15k a year at the convenience store???
    Sounds like you need some perspective in your life buddy.

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