‘Grumpy Gramps’ comes from having been around the walks of life now for a good long time and those who know me, know that I have my thoughts and opinions which seem to spew out once in a while much to the chagrin of my wife and a few of my grandkids. When it does happen the grandkids sometimes say oh Gramps is getting grumpy – so the name ‘Grumpy Gramps’.
Last weekend we took a short (and I mean short like just a couple of days) vacation trip to revisit, for the first time in five years and since my massive heart attack and COPD diagnosis, the family cottage in the Black Hills of South Dakota for a few moments of just being totally out of touch, out of mind, out of sound and out of sight.
Since my wife had only been in this area a few times for like a family reunion and my mother’s passing, it was going to be her first opportunity to really enjoy the peaceful quiet that sitting on the cottage deck can provide, especially when the millions of stars dot the sky through the framework of tall pine trees at night. The one thing missing though because of the unusually very dry weather – the part of the creek that divides on the top to the property and normally flows right next to the cottage and right underneath the one corner of the deck was silent because of a lack of water. But that is for another sharing for another time.
Here I want to talk about our lunch at the ‘Blue Bell Lodge’ in Custer State Park where my Dad, my wife and I took a break during an awesome trip through the Black Hills taking in the normal spots like Mt. Rushmore, Hill City, Keystone, Iron Mountain Road and the pigtail bridges, the Needles Highway and Crazy Horse.
The Blue Bell Lodge is an awesome dining spot for everybody, at least on most days. But this day it did not go well and when that happens, this ‘Grumpy Gramps’ gets irritated very quickly as my 20+ years in the food service industry has me holding some high standards.
I ordered the ‘Eagle Nest’ which was to be a burger (or buffalo burger if requested) with bacon, American Cheese and an egg. I love eggs so I ordered this without the bun along with French fries and was surprised when they asked if I wanted it medium rare, medium or well done. Of course I ordered it medium, which in my mind meant no red or pink except for a touch in the very middle.
When the order came and I cut into it, my first cut which took about 1/5 of the burger, I found it to be much more medium rare than anywhere close to medium. Politely asking to have it returned to be finishing cooking and the waiter took it.
Let me note here that while our waiter seemed like a very fine fellow, polite and all, he also was Hispanic and spoke with very broken English. Now I for sure have no problem with him as a person or employee, I did have a problem with ‘Blue Bell’ putting him in a position where it would be difficult for communication if there were a problem – and that is what happened in this circumstance.
When my burger was returned the spot I had already cut looked to be medium, but to make sure I made a partial cut halfway through the remainder of the burger and sure enough it still looked as if they just flipped flopped the meat when the outside got brown – very unacceptable to me as a medium burger.
So back again he took it to the kitchen and back again he brought it to me. When he returned this time I noticed that finally the burger looked medium except for one spot in the very middle which was okay for me. When the waiter asked if that would be okay I said yes, because by now the egg (which they did not redo) was beginning to become rubbery from being in the microwave and the fries were just cool underneath the top layer and my wife and Dad were half done with their meals – so I said just leave it.
I did notice though that the original 1/5 burger piece I had cut off to start with was missing on the plate as was any sign of bacon. Unfortunately when I tried to explain this to the waiter, his broken English did not seem to comprehend what I was explaining to him – so I just said I will take what I have, and I did with thoughts of reminding somebody on the way out of the place that the best advertising is word of mouth so you should always hope it is good.
The ‘Blue Bell Lodge’ has a normally outstanding reputation and well deserved, but this time around I would not have a single word of positive due to the lack of caring about satisfying the customer (me). If a meal was sent back even once, let alone a couple of times I would make it a point to have a management person available to get out to the table and do what was necessary to make the customer happy with his meal and visit. At the absolute least, the waiter should have been willing to ask for help in understanding what I was conveying in dissatisfaction.
What would I have done – I would have made the whole order over again and made sure the customer received very fresh, hot fries plus making sure the egg was remade so as not to taste and feel rubbery and to make sure the bacon got on the meal. After all that I would have offered at the minimum a reasonable discount on the price of the meal, something like 50% off.
I have seen many people, including at least a couple of folks on my family tree, that would do whatever to get a free meal out of the situation – but for me, I would have been happy with the correct food on the plate and some sort of discount for my trouble and time.
Will I go back to ‘Blue Bell’……yes, only this time I will make sure from the start that my order will be something that should not be hard to mess up – oh I had a hamburger, an easy cook.
There you have it, another ‘Grumpy Gramps’ and while many may be spewing about things they don’t like or see has being wrong – many times it will be just ‘getting it off my chest’ type of sharing. So enjoy, think about it and if you feel the need or want – send me a comment or two and ‘Grumpy Gramps’ promises to get back to you.
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