Mike, it’s ok to color outside the lines…

“That’s not how it works!”  This was the response I got from the counter-wonk at the local bowling alley last night.  “That’s not how it works, that’s not what you paid for”.

Mike, the afore-mentioned counter-wonk, was unfazed by the indignant posture I assumed as I listened to his response to my request for a little more time to finish our game.  I could practically see the cartoon bubble over his head that showed what he was thinking:  “Another customer who doesn’t understand that I just don’t give a s**t”.  Then Mike’s rolling eyes said it all when I told him that the previous owners, a longtime Livermore family, would never had treated a customer this way.  To his credit he appeared to bite his tongue to refrain from saying, “I just don’t give a s**t”.

Last night my wife and I met friends at Granada Bowl in Livermore to bowl a couple of games before our dinner reservation at a local eatery.  A fun way to begin an evening of fellowship, wine, good food, and hearty laughs.  We paid for an hour of bowling thinking we could get two games in.  We were wrong.  The space-age bowling video monitor displayed a timer that said we had ten minutes left before our lane went black.  No problem I thought – I’ll just go ask for a few extra minutes to finish up.  After all the place was practically empty except for the league at the other end of the lanes.  I was sure they would accommodate us.

Then I met Mike who quickly schooled me on “how it worked”.  Mike went on to tell me that we had less than ten minutes and had no chance of finishing our game so “you might as well just leave now”.  No s**t – he really said that.  So, losing my cool I say, “Mike, I bet when you were a kid you didn’t color outside the lines, did you”.  Mike assured me that in fact he did.  Mike is a liar.

The experience is not unique.  It’s not surprising.  It’s not even that big a deal given our dinner reservation was less than 30 minutes away and we probably couldn’t have finished our game anyway (plus we very anxious to get on to the wine and food).  But it does make me wonder about a number of things.

First it makes me wonder about Mike:

  • Does he have a self-esteem problem?
  • Perhaps Mike was  feeling a little gassy and therefore less likely to accommodate my request?
  • Was Mike potty trained at too early of an age?
More importantly (and more seriously) I wonder about Mike’s employer:
  • What kind of training do they provide to their employees who greet the public?
  • How often is Mike observed and evaluated on his customer facing skills?
  • Does management consciously consider what type of customer experience they want to deliver?

So as much as I want our local businesses in Livermore to succeed the next time I want to bowl I’ll go to Dublin because you know what Granada Bowl – I just don’t give a s**t.


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