Welcome to Hotel Ruby Tuesday
March 20, 2008
Where you can fill a feedback form once, but can never leave.
Last night was one for the ages. After a very good salad at Ruby Tuesday, a waiter asked me to fill a feedback form. Nearly everything was ‘good’, a few things were ‘awesome’, two were ‘average’, and two ‘needed improvement’. This waiter takes the form and heads towards the cash counter, but then freezes, like he’s seen something terrible. He hands it to the guy at the counter, who looks at it, mutters something to the waiter, and then smiles politely at me. He leaves his place behind the register and comes to me.
“Sir,” he says quietly (I suspect he doesn’t want to create a scene), “you have not filled in two circles.” I don’t know how I missed those.
“Alright, give me a pen.” I fill one as good, and the beverages as average. He looks at it for a moment and says, “On what basis have you said the beverages are average?”
It’s true. I don’t know why they were average. They just were. They felt average.
“Sir, may I ask, what beverages have you had here so far?”
On my previous visit, a beer.
“Sir, come on. A beer? You give us an average on the beer? Be serious, sir.”
“Nobody takes this seriously,” I informed him in my most learned tone. “Not even Ruby Tuesday in Mumbai.”
“Well, sir, as you wish,” he said, leaving me alone. But not for long, because his superior, the head waiter, appeared with the form. “Sir, kya aap apne mistake ko theek kar sakte hain?” he ordered, rather than asked, thrusting the form and a pen at me.
“Look, forget it.” I put a large cross over the beverages spot and the dessert spot (which I had also not had, but only because they did not seem enticing enough).
He thanked me for this, but said I had failed to initial the crossings. He said, “Delhi will think we did it, and they will want to call you to confirm that it is indeed you, but you have also not left your number with us.”
I initialed it but declined to give out my number.
“But you must,” he pleaded, “or at least an address!”
No, no, no, I told him. I would leave nothing but my name. At this he rose above me and sighed, “As you wish.” He walked over to another gentleman who looked gravely at my opinions, and faults, I realised. I recalled another instance where I was scrutinized this way – early one morning in an Oklahoma airport, I was suspected of knowing too much about Egyptian terrorists.
The grave man was the restaurant manager, and he came by and settled on his haunches beside me. This appeared ominous, for he had the air of someone about to make a case for himself, and go to any lengths to do it. He smiled and reasoned that “the people in Delhi” took this sort of thing very seriously. He would not say it, but implied that my non-cooperation would hamper several careers, most of all his own. “You have initialed here, here, and here, but do you know what they will think? They will think we have crossed these and put ‘RB’ everywhere. Sir, you should sign in their place.”
“Tear it up. Throw it away. Please,” I said, unable to stop laughing.
“I’m afraid we cannot do that,” he cried, showing me that every feedback form had a number, at which I laughed even harder. He was serious, “And no name? No phone number?”
“Please throw it away. They will not miss this.”
“No, sir, that is one thing we cannot do.”
“I will not sign.”
“I will not. Your Mumbai branch does not harass me like this.”
He would not give up. “You rate us on beer? On dessert? For what? And what starters have you had apart from garlic bread?” It was faintly unnerving to have the manager remember an item ordered ten days ago. “Alright,” he smiled finally, and got up. “We hope you had a good meal. And we will see you again,” he said, holding the door open.