Thursday, September 14, 2023



I had occasion to go into a building café today where I bought 2 juices (I was going to be at this venue most of the day) and a yoghurt. After paying at the register and not being offered a bag, I put the juices in my pockets and asked for a spoon. The young lady who I had paid left the register and came back with a fork. I thanked her and said that I preferred to eat my yoghurt with a knife, whereupon she pointed to a table some distance away and said “Over there.”

This was the same café where Kate had previously bought a Reuben sandwich and waited while they toasted it, only to give it to someone who had come after Kate. It was the last Reuben and they refused to provide it to Kate, even though she had bought and paid for it before the other person had come into the café.

It left a sour taste in Kate’s mouth and not from the Reuben, because she never got to eat that.


By the way:

  • The Reuben sandwich is a North American grilled sandwich composed of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Thousand Island dressing or Russian dressing, grilled between slices of rye bread.
  • One version of the name origin holds that Reuben Kulakofsky, a Lithuanian-born Jewish grocer residing in Omaha, Nebraska, asked for a sandwich made of corned beef and sauerkraut at his weekly poker game held in the Blackstone Hotel from around 1920 through 1935. The participants included the hotel's owner, Charles Schimmel. Schimmel's son, who worked in the kitchen, made the first Reuben for him, adding Swiss cheese and thousand island dressing to his order, putting the whole thing on rye bread. The sandwich first gained local fame when Schimmel put it on the Blackstone's lunch menu, and its fame spread when a former employee of the hotel won the national sandwich idea contest with the recipe. In Omaha, Nebraska, March 14 was proclaimed Reuben Sandwich Day.
  • Another account holds that the Reuben's creator was Arnold Reuben, the German-Jewish owner of Reuben's Delicatessen (1908–2001) in New York City. According to an interview with Craig Claiborne, Arnold Reuben created the "Reuben Special" around 1914. Bernard Sobel in his 1953 book, Broadway Heartbeat: Memoirs of a Press Agent states that the sandwich was an extemporaneous creation for Marjorie Rambeau, inaugurated when the Broadway actress visited the Reuben's Delicatessen one night when the cupboards were particularly bare.

Which is all getting away from the issue: customer service.

The Great Yoghurt and Fork Incident reminded me of a homily I had posted in Bytes some years earlier – ‘Remember Me? - on April 7, 2011, in fact, when I looked it up, and it is worth a re-post – in this age of online ordering, voice mail orders (I hate that: If your call relates to ##, press ## etc), reducing face to face contact and the disappearance of common courtesy and smiles, it is even more apt than in 2011.


Remember me?

I'm the person who goes into a restaurant, sits down patiently and waits while the waitresses do everything but take my order.

I'm the person who goes into a department store and stands quietly while the sales clerks finish their little chit-chat.

I'm the person who drives into a petrol station and never blows the horn, but waits patiently while the attendant finishes reading a comic book.

Yes, you might say I'm a good guy, but do you know who else I am?

I'm the person who never comes back, and it amuses me to see you spending thousands of dollars every year to get me back when I was there in the first place … and all you had to do was to show me a little courtesy.

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