Free Breakfast!

Is there really such thing as a "free" meal?

Is there really such thing as a "free" meal?

The other day I was having breakfast with an acquaintance of mine at a restaurant in my hometown.  This restaurant is part of a national chain.  Though I  frequent this establishment rarely, he is a regular customer and is known by name.  After some polite chatter on the state of our family and affairs, we started discussing our breakfast.  I quite enjoy a good meal (just ask my wife).  And on this particular morning, I was having this restaurant’s signature breakfast.  The very well known “Grand Slam Breakfast.”  As you can probably guess by now, we were enjoying breakfast at our local Denny’s.  When I ordered this meal I was asked the simple questions of “How would you like your eggs?”,  “What type of toast would you like?”, “Would you like to substitute any of the sides?”, and “What would you like to drink with that?”  These are very simple questions, but when you stop to think about all the changes that you can make, you realize you have a lot of choice in the outcome of your breakfast.  You don’t even have to order the Grand Slam.  You can also have one of their many other breakfast choices.

The meal came, we ate.  I was quite satisfied with my meal, as was my colleague.  The eggs were exactly as I had ordered, and I received the toast, sides and beverage I wanted.  I left a 25% tip for the waitress (she was very kind and professional).  On the way out to our vehicles my friend asked if I had come down on the day of the free Grand Slam Giveaway.  I had not, but I had driven by the restaurant on my way to work that morning.  I had noticed the very long lines snakeing out of the building, down the sidewalk and around the corner.  He stated that because it is his routine, he decided that he would eat at Denny’s that morning also dispite the obvious inconvenience and long lines.  Nothing beats a free breakfast right?

Wrong.  He stated that he arrived at Denny’s at a few minutes past 7:00 that morning and got in line.  At this time he figured the line wasn’t that long, but looking through the windows he could see the restaurant was already packed.  He actually got into the restaurant to order a little sooner than he anticipated.  He figures he only waited in line for about 50 minutes.  He sat down at the table and waited for the waiter or waitress to arrive.  15 minutes later his waitress/server (what is the politically correct term nowadays?) arrived to take his order.  She looked haggared and worn down.  He asked her how it was going (just to make polite conversation), and she replied it was a “madhouse” as you can imagine.  Since he knew this waitress, and she knew him, he stated he would like his Grand Slam prepared in the usual way.  She said that would be ok, but the toast/bread he usually ordered was gone, and she would have to substitute it with something else.  He was slightly annoyed by this, but agreed to substitute it with something similar.  He smiled at her as she went off to the kitchen to relay his order. 

While he was waiting for his food he looked at the scene around him.  Since he was a regular to this establishment he knew many of the regulars that were usually there.  On this particular morning he saw only one other customer’s face he recognized.  Later he told me that he had asked some of the other “regulars” where they were this particular morning and they replied, that they had gone somewhere else for breakfast to avoid the hassle.  His wait was much longer than normal, but he attributed that to the fact that the place was packed!  Since he was in no rush, he wasn’t going to worry about the wait.  He did notice that many of the other “customers” (can we call them customers even if they don’t pay) were impatient, and some of them were quite rude to the staff.

Thirty minutes later his meal finally arrived.  He smiled at the waitress and thanked her (something most of the others were not doing).  When he began to eat his meal, he noticed that something was different, it tasted different.  His eggs were undercooked, he was never a fan of overeasy.  They were greasy, and they lacked proper seasoning.  His bread of course as he already knew had been substituted.  The portions were smaller and the outcome seemed rushed, but hey at least they got his beverage right.  Like most people he downed his beverage quickly and it was gone before he had even started his meal.  He thought “Oh well” they will be around in a minute or two to provide a refill.  A refill that never came.  He decided to finish his meal quickly, and vacate the restaurant so the others that were still in line could be served.  As he was getting up and leaving a tip his sever came over to thank him for his patronage.  She also saw that he had left a pretty size-able tip on the table and thanked him for that.  He left feeling hurried and unsatisfied.

A couple of days later he returned to Dennys for his normal breakfast routine.  He walked in, was seated immediately, and was able to order EXACTLY what he wanted.  While he was ordering, he asked the waitress how the “promotion” was.  She stated that if they ever do that again she will either call in sick, or quit (her words exactly).  It was the worse day at work she had ever had.  She said that even though she served 10 times the normal amount of patrons, she actually earned less in tips than what she earns on a regular day (what’s the obligatory tip for 20% of free?).  The host/hostess was rushed, the cooks were rushed, and the supplies ran out more quickly, even though they anticipated the crowds.

Upon hearing this story I was glad that I avoided the hassle of a “free” breakfast at Dennys that morning.  Some things aren’t worth it even if they are free.  My momma used to always say,  “You get what you pay for.”

Now imagine if we had “free” healthcare.

Published in: on August 12, 2009 at 2:49 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. An excellent example. Had a friend in the mission field from Canada who blew his knee out in basket ball, ended up waiting 9 months get to specialist to even look at it. Well over a year before he actually got it fixed, but by that time, the body had “healed” itself, and then the “healing” had to be undone and reset to allow correct “healing”.

  2. You need to write another post from the point of view of the other customers. You know, the ones that were not regular at Denny’s. The ones that likely couldn’t afford a meal or a higher tip.
    And ask them what they have for breakfast when Denny’s doesn’t offer a free meal…

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