Note to window attendant: My providing you with $1.98 in mixed coins, including upwards of 20 pennies, for a McDelicious Whopper of a Cheeseburger and an accompanying Buddy Fries does not constitute “perfect.”

Look it up; I did. Perfect is defined as “having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.”

If anything, giving you all my loose change when I have a Twoonie stashed in my vehicle’s coin keeper — or, as my kids call it, Daddy ATM — is, at best, “acceptable.”

I might define it as rude, especially when you discover some of those pennies were scratched out from under the front car seat, clinging to each other, affixed by whatever is this month’s gruel-de-floor.

It follows, then, that if my delivery of payment to you is not perfect, then neither is your response.

It, frankly, borders on indifferent, callous, disrespectful. How, might I ask, would you respond if I were able to produce a $1.98 legal-tender coin in shiny, showroom condition?

Exceptional? Extraordinary? Astonishing?

Does the corporate customer service manual require you answer such interactions with the “perfect” pronouncement? Or does the manual just suggest you be polite, kind, considerate and cheerful?

I suspect in some way you really do believe you’re being all of those things. You have a smile painted on your face, which means, outwardly at least, you’re trying to be cheerful. You’re certainly being polite. And you didn’t throw those pennies back in my face, which means you’re obviously kind and considerate.

But it all sounds so contrived, manufactured — so unspontaneous; I don’t believe you.

Your response is not perfect; it’s perfected.

Consider adding one more characteristic to the mix: I want you to be authentic.

(I looked that word up for you, as well. It means “genuine.”)

I know we live in a world that is far from genuine. We hide behind smartphones, text messages, Instagrams, emoticons and acronyms. I know you probably can’t wait to get back to the relative safety of the Web, where you can lie your pants off while communicating (sort of) with your friends.

But right now we’re having a real, honest-to-goodness verbal conversation. Don’t you think we could drop all the pretence and just enjoy these few moments of face-to-face engagement? I’m obviously not a troll; I’m not going to storm the window and angrily take my McDelicious Whopper with Cheese from you.

And, heaven knows, we have so few of these genuine, spontaneous moments these days.

You know, the folks at Starbucks, where I buy yummy teas for my wife, engage me. The conversation at the speaker goes something like this:

“Hi, my name is Serge. It’s my pleasure to be serving you today.”

“Hi, Serge, my name is Andrew. With me this morning is Tracey and Natasha. Tracey will be enjoying a Grande Chai Tea Latte with milk not cream. Natasha is still making up her mind.”

A chuckle.

“That sounds awesome. I can give Natasha a minute, if you like. Or you can bring her to the window and we’ll use the spray bottle on her until she makes up her mind.”

More chuckles. And so on.

Fun. Engaging. Spontaneous.

I hope you get to read this. I hope someone who handles customer service for your establishment will post it and point big red arrows at it. I hope you’ll take it to heart and just have a great time at the window. Don’t perfect your delivery; enjoy it, interact, engage your customers. You’ll keep them coming back.

That McDelicious Whopper of a Cheeseburger they can get anywhere; engaging, authentic interaction, that’s tougher to find.

Want another reason to rethink your perfected responses? I’ll be coming back — but not necessarily for the food. I’m going to cringe when you tell me, “Perfect.” I’m going to ask you to explain yourself.

And I’ll be holding up the line while we have that conversation.


  1. These jobs are hard, monotonous and often pay barely enough to survive on – and now you need to be ‘engaged’ while you buy your burger? Give me a break.

  2. Andrew Stuckey, my mother told me “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Advice you should consider adopting.


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