Today we present another episode of "Great Moments in Hospitality":
A few years ago, after working nearly non-stop at Good Eats for the first 18 months of its existence, St. Pauli Girl and I decided it was time for a break. We managed to slip away for a long weekend to a resort in the mountains of New Mexico in January. As picturesque as the mountains were, it helped that the resort included a casino.
On the second day of the trip, we decided to splurge on room service for breakfast. St. Pauli Girl had never done it before, and while I thought I had at some point or another, I think I was mostly remembering television shows. We filled out the special menu card and left it on the doorknob overnight.
As expected, the next morning at 10:00 a.m., we heard a knock on the door. The pleasant room service woman wheeled in a cart with covered dishes and small vase of flowers. I signed for it along with a nice gratuity on top of the service charge. We sat down and pulled off the plate covers to reveal our scrumptious breakfast. My “Ranch Hand Breakfast” featured most of the major food groups: fried potatoes, meat and coffee. St. Pauli Girl’s breakfast was lighter, much lighter.
“Didn’t you order anything?” I asked.
“The smoked salmon.”
“Oh yeah, that sounded good.” I looked all around the tray again, but there was no salmon. “I guess they forgot.”
I called room service.
Me: Yes, we ordered the smoked salmon but didn’t get any.
Room Service: Yes, we ran out. It’s supposed to be on the delivery truck later today.
Me (looking down at the check): You billed us for it.
Room Service: We’ll bring some up as soon as the truck comes in.
Me: Which is when?
Room Service: About 4:00.
Me: We can go ice fishing, catch our own, smoke it and eat it before the truck gets here. Can we get something else?
Room Service: Um, of course, sure.
Me: Why didn’t you call and tell us before you came up here the first time?
Room Service: We didn’t want to wake you.
Me: We filled out a card that said ‘Please deliver at 10:00 a.m.’ I think it’s safe to say, a 9:45 or even a 9:30 call would have been okay.
Room Service: Well, we don’t know that. Some people get really upset when you wake them up.
Me: I see. So instead of trying to upset us with a phone call, you decided to deliver half of our food but bill us for all of it? And hope we don’t notice?
Room Service: The Ranch Hand breakfast is enough for two normal people.
Me: Normal? What’s that supposed to mean?
Room Service: Sir, do you want another entrée or not?
Me: Yeah, how about the Belgian waffle?
Room Service: Very good. Oh, and we won’t charge you either.
St. Pauli Girl encouraged me to eat my breakfast before it got cold while she sat and stared. It’s difficult to eat in front of starving people, but I managed to finish. Then her waffle finally arrived. I watched for awhile before deliberating how mad she might get if I turned on the television. Instead, I just walked around the room then stood and looked out the window. I noticed a small grey truck driving up the service entrance. It had a fish logo on the side.
“Hey,” I said, “I think the salmon just arrived. You want me to call room service?”
St. Pauli Girl sighed. “No, they’ll probably just throw a whole salmon on the plate, stick a Marlboro in its mouth and call it, ‘smoked.’”