Customer Encounters #19 – Texting, texting, texting

Now we all know that it’s rude to text at the table during mealtimes, we also know that it is equally rude to be be on the phone with someone at the counter whilst the person serving you waits to serve you. Logic also dictates that it is also just as rude to be texting at the counter whilst someone serves you.

Who remembers Keith? No? Keith is one of those customers I wrote about in a previous entry, the one that carries the arrogance reeking of “I’m the most important customer in the room”. 

Very recently he has taken to playing the role of the silent customer; he comes in and begins texting on his phone. I come out and say hello, and without looking up he nods acknowledging my assistance. A normal person in this situation would put their phone away and begin their order. But not Keith, oh no, Keith as it happens is way too good to do what normal people do, so instead he carries on texting, leaving me hanging.

After about a minute I volunteer a suggestion. “Do you want king prawn fried rice?”

He shakes his head.

“Well help me out mate, I know Asians are meant to be clever but it doesn’t mean I can read your mind.”

It turns out that he wants a large special fried rice, and the only reason I know this is that my mum had to shout out the order from outside.

I then told him how much his order cost, he nodded again, and then left without paying. Apparently Keith assumes that he is too good to pay for things straight away, so he returns to his car and then pay 20 minutes later still on his phone. On one occasion he was waiting in his car and didn’t come in for quite a while, so we had to switch the lights off to get his attention.

As I said, nothing is too good for Keith.

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Customer Encounters #17 – Almost Accepting Stolen Goods

My nine to five job is a journalist, and what journalism can sometimes do to you is foster a sense of paranoia about someone’s behaviour, or sometimes you can be led into overthinking something. Once a pair of boys, both about 11 years-old, came in and asked me “do you need help delivering menus through letter boxes?” I said no for the following reasons:

One, it was around nine o’clock at night and surely most boys at 11 would prefer to go home and watch some TV (or maybe I’m just being old fashioned). Two, it was possible that with all those menus that I could’ve given to them they were probably just going to litter the streets with them. And three they probably wanted to make a prank call because they weren’t actually asking for that many (they were asking for 10 menus and clearly they have not explored the local area enough to know that 10 menus is not enough to cater for the number of houses within walking distance).

How is this relevant? Well the other night someone came in. He had something about him that looked familiar but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I assumed maybe he just wanted a can of coke or diet or 7up, or maybe he just wanted change for a £20 counterfeit note and didn’t actually want to order any food.

He got out his phone (a Samsung S3) and said he needed some help. He said his phone is in Chinese and he wants to change the language settings back into English.

Your first inclination is of course to ask: “ok, well how did you get it into Chinese?”

He simply replied “I don’t know, I just bought it, it just came like this.”

Wait-what? You just bought your phone and it came up in Chinese? Ok then…

“Where did you buy it from? I’m sure the phone shop could help you.”

“Er… ok let me just show you what it looks like…oh it’s ran out of battery…ok I’m going to go and charge it and come back… actually, can I leave my phone here?”

Erm, excuse me? No you can’t leave your phone here, we’re a takeaway not a mobile phone depot.

My mum came out politely said we couldn’t help him and he left and said he would come back.

So a guy comes in with a Samsung S3 with a low battery, he won’t disclose where he bought the phone and it just suddenly decided to set itself into Chinese. The guy then asks if he can leave the phone with you and he will come back with a phone charger. Suspicious? Very.

What if the phone had one of those ingenious apps that takes a picture of anyone who tries to unlock it and send it to the police?

Your first inclination is to think that the phone is clearly stolen. After he left my mum said that she recognised him. Last year one of our customers was arrested and jailed for bribery, it was quite a big local story and was even covered by BBC London. I remember the last time I served him, he swaggered up to the takeaway in the middle of the night with his Ferrari. The fact that he even owned a Ferrari made you raise your eyebrows a little, they’re not exactly a regular sighting, in Kensington and Chelsea yes but not East London of all places.

The guy who just came into the shop? He was the brother of that person who was jailed. Of course it would be silly to paint everyone under the same brush and automatically assume that by virtue of being related to someone who was jailed. Maybe he was after all completely innocent and did just buy the phone off someone and it did automatically set itself to Chinese.

Did he come back with a phone charger? Of course he didn’t.