The universe must think we need some work when it comes to patience. First there was the 72 hour hurricane sit-in over the weekend, and then last night there was Waffles & Dinges.
Every Monday evening we walk over to Broadway to pay a visit to the Waffles & Dinges truck. This is a truck that sells the best Belgian waffles on the planet (our preference being the Liege waffle with Spekuloos Spread or Nutella and either strawberries or bananas on top). Usually there are a few people at the truck when we arrive. They do a steady stream of business and the two guys working the truck are infallibly good-humored. Why not? Everybody loves their product.
Except for last night. Last night when we walked to the truck there must have been 25 people in line in front of us. Ok, I thought, it’s post-hurricane euphoria. No problem. Turns out that wasn’t it. The owners of the Waffles & Dinges trucks (they have a few) had posted an on line coupon that expired Monday night. It gave you two waffles and a drink for only $1. (It was free, but they had to collect $1 in sales tax for some reason.)
Joshua and I have been business owners for 16 years now, and we’ve learned a few things. One of them is that free giveaways like the one the W&D people were running are usually a disaster. Why? First because they mostly attract people who want something for free, act all entitled about it and then never come back. Second, the crowds annoy the regular customers who are not there for the giveaway and are paying full price for their items.
Last night was a perfect example.
For the first 55 minutes we stood in line, the guys in the truck waited on exactly 6 people. This was because the people with the coupons had never been there before and so did not know about the different waffles or the toppings. Some of them got multiple waffles with several coupons. I think we moved forward about 3 feet that first hour.
Then a 3rd employee arrived (or he might have been one of the owners) and started taking the orders and the money so that the guys in the truck could focus on making the waffles. Good idea in theory, but the orders were coming in so fast that the truck guys could not keep the orders in order. Which meant that soon we were standing in a sea of people waiting for their waffles. A few minutes more and many of those people began losing patience because they noticed that someone who had been behind them in the line was being served first.
New Yorkers have no qualms about voicing their displeasure in such situations.
At one point I tried to be the voice of reason and attempted to help the guys get things in the right order, but to no avail. The woman next to me was on an ‘F’ word laced tirade and would not be stopped. One of the workers spotted Maya and Ben, asked their names and made their waffles; he probably thought he needed to get the kids out of there.
And even though we got our waffles before someone who’d been in front of us in line, after 90 minutes of waiting we quietly took our order and left. My kids were both gems, paying no mind to the ranting woman and waiting far more patiently than I was. On the way home we discussed how W&D could have handled things better and agreed that in business if you run a promotion you’d better be prepared to deliver.
So thanks universe. We got it. No more exercises needed for now. Ok?