Recent Posts

July 17, 2010

You can't, or you don't want to?

I got a lesson in asking this weekend.

How it's done right, beeeeeeyatch.

I had dinner with friends and family at the restaurant of the hotel where these friends were staying. After dinner, we decided to go for a walk along the waterfront. Problem: Various people had various belongings that were hard to lug around (leftovers from dinner, a jar of peanuts, a rug in a box (don't ask)). So Manuela, a long time fam friend and femme fatale who insisted her name be kept just as it is ("You don't want a pseudonym? Are you sure? We can come up with something fun!" "Why would I want to be called anything other than Manuela?" she retorted), walked up to the reception area with me and we asked.

Rather she asked. I just watched and took notes.

"Excuse me," she announced to the girl behind the counter. "We would like to go for a walk. Can you put these behind the counter until we come back?"

The girl inspected the bags and said: "No, I can't do that."

"What do you mean? You mean you can't just take these bags and put them in those cabinets or under the counter, until we come back?"

"No," the girl answered, pseudo-devastated. "The cabinets are all full."

"What about putting them on the counter, behind there?"

"I'm sorry, no," she said again. "We need access to those cabinets."

"Right. Well you can put them under the counter, back there, can't you? Or put them in the back, on that shelf? We're just going for a stroll and we'll pick them up on our way back."

"I'm sorry, I can't do that."

"Why? Why not? I mean, how is that inconveniencing you?"

"It's just... policy," the girl said, smiling shyly.


"I'm sorry," she said. "I can't put anything back here."

"You can't, or you don't WANT to?"

"It's not that I don't want to. I mean, I could ask my manager."

"Well then please ask him," Manuela announced. "Policy? Ridiculous," she murmured to me when the girl walked away.

The manager rushed up and started immediately saying he can't do a thing and he can't be held responsible for personal items when Manuela interrupted.

"We are going for a short walk and we know your employees are not thieves. Take these bags, please, I know you have honest people working here and nobody will steal anything. We trust you."

"But it's against our rules to clutter the counter area."

"You mean to say that in this entire restaurant there's not a single closet or office where you can put these for a short while? That is hard to believe."

"All right," he conceded.

We dropped off our things, and on the way out, Manuela gave me this unasked for reasoning: "We had dinner there. We're staying at the hotel. It's basic service to try to make your guests feel welcome. That was a very poor performance. Very poor." Tsk tsk.

I followed her outside, then rushed to write down the dialogue as best as I could remember it. Because if I'm every hesitating to ask, she's who I must channel.

1. Persist.
2. Escalate.
3. Don't take any bullshit.

"Can't or don't want to?"


[image credit]
blog comments powered by Disqus