Wednesday, 17 September 2008


Firstly, yet another apology about the sparse updates these days. I have moved house again (the first relocation was from where I went to university to my parents' house, this relocation is from my parents' place to the new place where I am going to a new university) and have been dealing with all the council tax dodging and job hunting that comes with such an endeavour. Now that most of that is out of the way - although I'm still not registered at the uni and don't have a regular rota for work yet - this seems a good time to tell the tale of Dominico and the irate customer.

Thing is, the irate customer was nothing to do with Dominico. Only he decided to make it to do with him, for reasons perhaps only knowable in his mysterious, ancient mind.

Anyway I'm working the phones because - at this point in the evening - it's a slow night and there's nothing to deliver. Now, when someone rings up, if it's a number that's placed a delivery order with us before, the customer's address comes up on the screen, we confirm that's the address, and get on with the order. Easy. If one telephone number has ordered to multiple addresses in the past - if, say, it's a mobile phone and the dude has ordered pizza at his, his mum's, and his girlfriend's house - all the addresses will be displayed, we ask which one it is, click on it, and get on with the order. Still easy. Even if you click on the wrong address, it's displayed in the corner of the screen the whole time you're entering the order, so you can easily go back and change it.

Thing is, I was barely paying attention when the dude ordered - in fact, I was reading a Batman comic - and so by the time I clicked on the wrong address I'd already forgotten what he'd said the right address was. So there wasn't much hope of me noticing my mistake. And so, about fifteen minutes later, Dominico took a pizza to the wrong side of town.

Now, Dominico's not really the quickest or most efficient driver, and it's generally accepted that he takes about 50% as long to do anything as anyone else. Because he's old, and old people are a drain on society. (Kidding! But not really) In the time it took him to drive out to the wrong address, find no one there, ring the customer's phone number - which, get this, was now turned off! - and drive back, the customer had turned up at the shop demanding to know where his pizza was.

I ask him where he ordered it for.

He gives me his address.

I check the computer.

We don't have any orders for that address, I tell him.

He fucking placed a fucking order forty fucking minutes ago, he informs me.

I ask him what he ordered.

A pepperoni feast, large fries, coleslaw, and a big bottle of coke, for fuck's sake, he tells me.

I check the computer.

We have a driver out with the order, only he's gone to a different address, I tell him.

Why the fuck is that, he asks.

Must have been a mistake with the computer, I inform him, my face a beacon of innocence.

He asks where the fucking driver is now.

Should be back any minute, I answer, and didn't he ring your number, I ask?

He tells me his phone's off.

I tell him he's supposed to give us a working phone number.

It does work, he says. It's just off.

I go to point out that that's fucking retarded.

He looks like he's going to punch me.

I keep my big mouth shut.

Just then, Dominico gets back, carrying a full bag and looking a little more irate than usual.

"No one there!" he exclaims, frustrated, and sets the bag down on the counter.

"This the guy?" the customer asks. He's a pretty big guy, and, by the smell of him, more than a little drunk. This combination of facts led to me not pushing my luck with him earlier, but if Dominico notices any of it he doesn't give a shit.

"The guy? The guy? What guy?" he asks, throwing his hands up as if astounded. "I am a guy!" he proclaims, as if the fact were being disputed.

"That my order?" the big man asks Dominico. Dominico's pretty short, and stooped over in that inimitable old man fashion, and I reckon the customer has about two feet and eighty pounds on him, but for some reason that only seems to fire the elderly Italian up more.

"If it's your order," he counters, jabbing one gnarled finger in the air, "why weren't you at your house?"

"Because I don't live there!" the drunk customer shouts, leaning down a little bit as if Dominico wouldn't be able to hear his beer-flecked proclamation from higher up.

"What do you want me to do?" Dominico asks, inexplicably angry that a customer is dissatisfied with admittedly shitty service."The ticket says there, I go there. What do you want me to do?"

"Well, who put the wrong address in?"

It's at this point that I start idling backwards, heading towards the prep kitchen before Dominico turns to say yeah, Goat, who did put the wrong address in? Up until that point the furious customer had been adequately distracted by Dominico and his old man's rage, but the tables were very much starting to rotate...

"Who cares?" Dominico asks, gesticulating wildly again. "Here's your food now, so you can go eat it! Go eat your food!"

He yanks the bag open and drags the order out. The pizza is still probably hot due to the heated bag, but I doubt it'll be particularly fresh tasting, and the paper bag the fries were in is completely translucent with absorbed grease. Not the kind of grub you see on Masterchef. Not, in short, what the big man wanted to see.

"I'm not eating that!" he shouts, momentarily thrown off balance by the very suggestion.

"Well then," Dominico says, "I guess that's done. We're done. No food, no money, everyone done." He dusts his hands as if satisfied that some ancient mystery has been solved, and goes to walk out the back.

"I paid by card!" the drunk guy says, and it sounds like his anger is starting to wear off into something I can identify with a lot more readily when it comes to Dominico: frustrated desperation. "I paid by card. Just give me a fresh order and leave it at that."

"Give a fresh order? Give a fresh order, he wants!" Dominico says, eyes frantic for a moment, pointing at me and the man alternately as if conducting an orchestra of appalling customer service. "I ring you, I ring you on your phone, and nothing! You keep your phone on like you're meant to and you could have had this-" on this he jabs furiously at the pizza box on the counter, "twenty minutes ago!"

The man opens his mouth to protest, then abruptly shuts it, and turns to me. "Can you," he begins, then pauses, and I struggle to keep my astonishment off my face. He is like a broken man; he doesn't know what to ask for, whether he deserves any of it, whether or not he should just crumple and take the lukewarm food scattered across the counter. Now, I hate bad customer service as much as anyone, and 95% of the time - unless I'm in a really bad mood - I'll be trying my hardest to make everything run as smoothly as possible. But the guy had been a bit of a dick, he'd had his phone off, he'd been aggressive - and let's please ignore for a moment the fact that it was my fault he had to come into the shop in the first place - and it was genuinely amazing to see how Dominico had, well, crushed his spirit. And all in the space of five minutes of insane finger jabbing.

"Can you just give me a refund?" he manages to get out on the second attempt, and I grasp the proffered straw with all my strength.

"I'll go ask my manager," I say, and go to move out the back of the restaurant.

Dominico opens his mouth to me, presumably to point out that our "manager" - as close as we have to one, anyway - isn't in tonight, but I just hold up a hand for silence and keep on walking. You've got to firm with Dominico or he'll walk right over you... as the hapless drunken chav of this sorry tale has adequately demonstrated.

So yeah, there was no manager out the back. But you know what there was? An order, ready to go, and an open back door. The last thing I heard before I stepped out into the refreshing night air was Dominico's voice, angrily enquiring as to what was wrong the stale pizza resting on the counter top.

I'm happy to say that my delivery went without a hitch.