Yes, We Have No Roast Beef, or This Job Would Be A Lot Easier Without All You Customers

Sunday afternoon the family and I were driving home from a great 4 days in Seattle visiting family and hanging out. It was lunch time and we were in Ellensburg, Washington so we stopped at Arby's for some sandwiches. I've always felt like Arby's was just a little higher on the fast food chain than some of the burger options. I'm sure at some point I felt like eating there would be a healthier option than Burger King. I don't think that anymore, but I am still attracted to Arby's when I want something just a little fancier than a cheap burger or taco. Irrational reasoning or not, we drove up to Arby's and went inside. There was quite a line. Lots of Arby's folk in the back making food, and one lone girl at the register. She was trying to make the best of it, but, at that moment on that day, her world sucked. You see, Arby's had run out of roast beef. At least, they had run out of prepared roast beef. As I neared the front of the line, someone was frantically pulling chunks of hot meat out from some hot meat maker in the back and throwing them on an automatic meat slicer where another someone was just as frantically pulling them off piece by piece, weighing them and make sandwiches as fast as the slicer would let him.

The hard thing for April (that was the girl at the register) is that she was being told, pretty regularly, that she needed to let all the customers know that any beef product would be a ten minute wait. I think this was supposed to disuade the customers from ordering beef products. It wasn't working. Why wasn't it working? Because all of these shenanigans were taking place at Arby's. The roast beef sandwich place. April was making the best of it though. She asked the customer in front of me what name to put on the order. "Connie." "That's the name of my car," she said. "What?"  "Yeah, I have a Lincoln Continental. I call her Connie."

I ordered my roast beef sandwiches, much to April's chagrin, and went to the side to stand and watch. Each customer heard the same warning that the customer before them did: "Any beef sandwiches will be a 10 minute wait." No one changed their resolve for beef. At one point, the manager, or at least the girl in charge of the shift, after continuing to see beef sandwich orders appear on the monitors around the kitchen, came up, again, to make sure that April was telling her patrons that there would be a long wait for beef. April assured her that she was informing each one of the perils.

As I put in my 10 minutes, it was fascinating how frustrated the staff was about the beef. Now, I'm sure they were frustrated about there not being beef: whose fault was it that there was no beef right at lunch, is there anyway to bypass some steps in order to get beef faster, etc., but the way that their frustrations kept coming out was: why do you people keep ordering beef?

It's funny how we misdirect legitimate frustrations toward those totally not responsible for our problems. The way we see a solution, but it doesn't involve hard work, an apology and possibly personal loss, but instead a scapegoat that we can blame. The right thing to do would have been to suck it up, apologize profusely and give everyone free sodas (that's not even a statistically significant personal loss but it would have gone a long way) but instead the staff decided to blame all those pesky customers for their problems. If only we had gone to Taco Bell on Sunday, Arby's would have never run out of beef.

I only stayed long enough to get my 'Shroom and Swiss Roast Beef, Regular Roast Beef, Jr. Roast Beef and Large curly fry, but as I was walking out the door it became clear that the staff of the Ellensburg Arby's was going to get their wish: the shift leader announced that instead of just being behind on beef slicing, the restaurant had actually run out of beef. I'm sure the line subsided shortly thereafter.