The shitty sandwich

I love it when friends come to town. Being a Brisbane native, my exodus to Gold Coast living has been marred by the odd drought of contact with my tribe. Recently, with summer in the air, visits are becoming more frequent.

I like to show off my new lifestyle to visiting tribesman. It’s calmer on the Gold Coast. It’s cleaner on the Gold Coast. We have a bigger beach than South Bank and wearing a bikini to lunch is standard practise. How shall we re-connect? Some pub-grub of course.

With so many surf clubs and local taverns to choose, it’s a no brainer. All the classics will be on offer. Barra and chips, chicken parmigiana, pizza, steak and the classic club sandwich. Menu fixtures on which we can always rely.

The tavern of choice for this particular rendezvous is under ten minutes drive from my flat. Two Brisbane boys, two locals but no partridges or pair trees. Just some good tucker as we watch the big screen display of football triumphs from season 2013.

Our meals are ordered, paid for and served in a relatively short time. This atmosphere is comfortable. There are no unknowns when embarking on this sort of dining experience. I raise the toasted sandwich to my face and bite down with… disappointment. WTF mate? My toasted club sandwich is cold. I can even sense that it tastes good but… it’s… bloody cold.

I am unnerved. This was supposed to be an experience which helped sell the certainty of my move to the Gold Coast. Fark!  I try to enjoy my sandwich quietly but it’s shitty. After digesting half, I sheepishly enquire. “Hey guys, what’s your meal like?” A chorus of hurumph for the chicken parmigana selection. Damn it!

I am not sure how to act this one out. What is the standard response to poor service? Do I tell the waitress?  Do I ask her to send over the manager? What will my mates think if I become ‘that guy’? What if they offer to replace it and I get a special sandwich garnished with the bodily fluids of the kitchen crew?

I pick at the chips. All of a sudden, the footy seems irrelevant and stupid. My whole mood has been soured. Until… BINGO! I know what to do, I’ll send an email. A nice, polite email, reporting the incident. How I was too embarrassed for myself and friends to call it on the spot. I smile, colour returns to my face. I announce the plan to my friends who ignore me as ‘try of the year’ is replayed on the tele. Win and win.

If you have had this same dining experience at your local tavern or surf-club. Fear not. After contacting management via email, then a phone call, I was invited back for a complete dinner-for-two package. Paid for in full by the establishment. Coffee and cake included upon completion of our cow.

The manager came to visit us throughout the meal. We joked together. It was great. I promised Tamara that I would make a shout out to her and the professional handling of my shitty sandwich saga. Not only did I feel welcomed for my honest feedback, I cannot wait to dine with her staff in charge again.

Tamara did advise this. “Be honest. Be understanding. Mistakes happen but do not have to be paid for without compensation. Good management demands good service and customers are valued. Speak up and we will respond.” I suggest including a smile, say that you’re willing to give it another chance. Laugh together and visit again. The only way you can come to trust their service once more is to trust it.

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