No, you aren’t “just” the messenger

A few days ago, Amy and I grabbed dinner at a restaurant chain that offers online ordering, and delivers to your car at designated spots in their parking lot. I’ve enjoyed going to this restaurant occasionally for at least 15 years.

We arrived four minutes early, and called their phone number (as instructed), then waited.

Fiften minutes passed before we decided to call again.

I remember “Jane” asking the name on our order, even though we just told them. They would send “Jack” out to our car. Before “Jane” had a chance to hang up, Amy asked in a polite tone why it was taking awhile.

I just answer the phone and I’m the messenger.

(Also: It was hectic, and although “Jane” offered a drink for the trouble, we never got a sincere apology from her.)

From our perspective, we were under the assumption that our food was ready 15–20 minutes earlier. Add the ten minutes needed to drive home, and I’m not sure it’d be in good shape anymore.

“Jack” brought out our food. While pointing to a sign in front of our car, this statement was the first thing I remember when asking him what happened:

You’re supposed to call when you get here.

How would you feel if you followed instructions, only to be subtly scolded?

Amy politely held out her phone to show that we called three times1.

Oh, that’s weird. We didn’t hear anything about it! I do apologize for that.

Again, we asked about the food and how long it was sitting there. “Jack” felt the outside of the bag and said it felt warm, but we could check, or ask to see the manager to get it remade or get it “comped”. We mentioned where we lived (to describe how long it’d take for us to get home), and he showed some sort of false empathy.

Oh yeah, me too.

(Wait. What?)

Yes, bring your leader to us because you’re doing it wrong. (I didn’t say that out loud.)

“Judith” walked out to our car a few minutes later. She was super nice, listened to our brief story (experience), asked us if we’d like our food to be remade, and asked if we’d like something else. We already requested a drink, but didn’t ask for anything else.2

We were curious if “Jane” would come out personally to apologize. She didn’t.

“Judith” came back out ten minutes later with our order, plus a piece of cake for dessert, and was very apologetic again.

On the drive home, I joked to Amy to “prepare our bowels for rage”. Fortunately, the food was great.3 😀

Takeaways

“Jane” — Your primary job is to help customers with their needs, and your method is answering phones and making sure colleagues bring out the orders. We understand. Since we didn’t get our grub, be proactive to help customers with their needs. Check how long our order has been waiting, then start a new, urgent order—if we were okay with it—rather than send “Jack” out with food that’s been sitting for 15–20 minutes. If you weren’t empowered or able to do that, skip right to the manager (not “Jack”) and brief them on the situation along with your proposal. (e.g. “‘Judith’, can we remake this order since it’s been sitting for a long time? The customer has been waiting for 20 minutes.”). Also, listen, and don’t be defensive.

“Jack” — Don’t make assumptions. Ask us what happened, and listen.

“Jack” and “Jane” — How would you feel if you received this kind of treatment? Consider and use those feelings to help guide your actions towards the right resolution. (Empathy!)

“Judith” et al. — Evaluate the process of this service by walking through all the steps. Determine and fix/minimize any gaps, especially when things are busy. Teach employees to listen. If possible, empower employees with the ability to make things right.4 It’ll give them the opportunity to learn and take responsibility for themselves.


  1. When Amy called the second time, they answered and hung up. 
  2.  I don’t remember if we brought up asking for the meal to be “comped” when “Judith” saw us. At this point, we had been there for about 30 minutes. 
  3.  I’m glad there didn’t appear to be a behind-the-scenes experience as depicted in the comedy film, Waiting. 😀 
  4. We never said, “Don’t send ‘Jane’ out here or we’ll go ballistic,” so use that opening to make things right with us. 

366 days of posts

I’m committing to publish one post per day in 2016.1

In my last post, Bryan’s Purge of 2016, I wrote:

One of my goals in 2016 to is reduce my physical and digital belongings.

There are several Lightroom catalogs—along with the corresponding photos—before 2011 on my second generation Drobo (USB 2.0), and the remaining Lightroom catalogs on my current laptop. I’m confident that the natural byproduct of purging will surface photos that I’ll be proud to publish.

I’d also like to be more open sharing what I read, learn, and do. People will either follow my blog, continue coming back for more, share it with others, or let me know how I can do better.

Yes, I’m choosing to ignore the possibility of followers leaving, because ultimately:

I’m…talking about myself, really. 🙂

Publishing daily will also subject everyone to my latest quirks, which I’m sure Amy will appreciate. 😉

In practice, I think I’ll schedule a block of time every morning to schedule posts.

On The Daily Post, the post The WordPress.com Editor: Five Quick Tips describes calendar-based scheduling. I’ll aim to fill up each month with dark blue circles (scheduled posts) and light gray circles (previously published posts).

For less important (superficial) reasons:

  • I’d like my 2016 WordPress.com annual report for this blog to have more recent posts with the most views for the current year. (In 2015, three posts with the most views were published in 2005, one post was published in 2010, and one post was published in 2015.)
  • It’d be rad to hit or beat the number of views in 2012.

Amy said she’d hold me accountable, but I’d love to hear your ideas for suggested posts to give me momentum! Please send them through my contact form. Thanks!2


  1. In 2015, I published 87 posts, 57 short of my goal of 144
  2. The Daily Post also has a great resource on the Postaday section. I’ve added the badge to my sidebar. 

Bryan’s Purge of 2016

One of my goals in 2016 to is reduce my physical and digital belongings.

A few months ago, I read the sample of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, and I’m inspired by the concept.

This #1 New York Times best-selling guide to decluttering your home from Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes readers step-by-step through her revolutionary KonMari Method for simplifying, organizing, and storing.

Working at Automattic1 means my gear and wardrobe needs are minimal. I really appreciate the freedom of a small wardrobe — and comfy swag helps, too. 🙂

I tend to keep something if there’s a chance I might need it later, which means that I’ve brought some items along in a few moves that I haven’t used in years. I’d ultimately love to feel confident that I enjoy and need all of my belongings.

Most items around home—mainly stuff in my office—don’t bring me joy. I rarely see them. When I do, my eyes gloss over them, with little or no pride. Occasional annoyance, even. (e.g. “Why do I still have this?”)

Someone else should have a chance to find joy from these items! Or, I should snap a photo, save it to Day One with a brief description, then trash the item.

By the end of 2016, I want to feel proud when seeing any item at home.

My next step: Read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.


  1. If you love helping people, apply