Department of Oops

It’s hard to complain without sounding like a nasty person. Someone told me the other day that I could have handled that cold coffee incident better than I did and that’s true I think. It’s hard to get the tone right. 

One thing I’m gathering is that if you’re going to complain about something you shouldn’t start out with a lot of apologizing for doing so. Too often that just infuriates whoever it is that you’re interacting with. It’s enough you’re about to get satisfaction for the ‘wrong’ done you from the persons you are addressing; you don’t need to insult them by seeming to seek their friendship.

What I had done that day was to bring back a cup of coffee two minutes after it was served to me to say that wasn’t hot. Then when the person who had poured it answered my complaint by giving me that undeniable poker faced Gimme a Break look I got flustered and said “No it really isn’t hot! Stick your finger in it.”

“I’m NOT sticking my finger in it! “she harrumphed and turned away to pour me a fresh cup.

Her reaction taught me two things about interacting with strangers, whether they’re waiting on you or you’re waiting on them or you’re just jostling past one another on some sidewalk and those things are:

  • (1) Don’t be referencing people’s body parts, pretty much no matter what.  And…
  • (2) Stay away from any suggestions that have the verb “stick” in them.

Two good rules for a new day!


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4 thoughts on “Department of Oops

  1. This is from memory – it’s an old schtick from Myron Cohen:

    This guy walks into a restaurant as he had every day for twelve years, just for their matzoh ball soup. It was the great joy of his life. He loved matzoh ball soup. The waiter no longer even had to ask his order. He’d just bring a hot bowl of matzoh ball soup and watch the customer’s delight.

    So this day the guy comes in, the waiter sits him down, puts a napkin in his lap, produces the matzoh ball soup, and stands back in anticipation.

    The guy just sits there.

    The waiter is concerned.

    “Excuse me, sir,” he says, “but I couldn’t help noticing you’re not eating the matzoh ball soup”

    The man nods, unhappily.

    “Are you all right? You have a headache, maybe?”

    The man shakes his head.

    “A little queasy? A little bit indigestion? You’d like maybe a seltzer?”

    The man shakes his head again.

    “You come in here every day for twelve years and order matzoh ball soup, and today you don’t eat? What’s wrong?”

    “OK,” says the man. “You’re so smart. Taste it.”

    “Taste it? Why should I taste it? It’s the same matzoh ball soup we make every day. There’s nothing the matter with it.”

    “Taste it,” insists the man.

    “OK, OK, if it will make you happy, I’ll taste the matzoh ball soup… Where the hell’s the spoon?”

    “Ah HA!”

  2. So, would it have been okay for you to ask the server to taste the cold coffee? It’s not like it’s $.05 a cup anymore; you have a right to prefer the coffee to be hot. OR, if you’d enjoy it, ask for ice to make it iced coffee. It’s taken me me a lot of years to learn that it’s ok to stand up for myself especially when my money is involved. Where emotion is involved…..well, I just took care of an issue a few minutes ago after stewing over what I KNEW was wrong on the other person’s part. I was not granted an apology but I bet that particular subject will not be brought up again by the other party! Smiling…….

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