Tuesday, April 14, 2009
The Domino's Pizza Fiasco
It is not often I feel the need to post anything on this site beyond reviews... well, that and bigfoot sightings...
In either case, every now and then something gets under my skin to the point that I feel the need to step up on my crate of chocolate and opine to the masses. Such is the case today.
It came out in the last 48 hours, thanks to the miracle that is YouTube, that two employees from the shallow end of the gene pool at a Domino's Pizza outlet in North Carolina were doing some rather foul and disgusting things to the food- such as putting snot in sandwiches, farting on food and using a sponge that was rubbed up one of the employee's "drive-thru window" to wash dishes with.
As someone who has worked in and around food for the past 15 years, I feel qualified to comment on this.
First off, this is not going to be a "The Customer Is Always Right" tirade. I am not going to defend customers blindly. Let's be honest, a lot of people are just plain nasty to those in the service industry because they think that those people working such jobs are below them. Some people are just plain mean and unreasonable, no matter the situation, and others just generally act like they were raised by wolves. The customer ISN'T always right. BUT, no matter how nasty the person may be, no matter how demeaned you may feel- or even if you think "they" have it coming- it is NEVER, EVER acceptable to tamper with people's food. I won't lie, there has been a table or two that was so horrible I daydreamed about using "floor spice" on their food. But that is the key, I thought about it and moved on. My own personal ethics will not allow me to follow through with it. But sadly, that is not true of everyone else. If you have ever been truly rotten to a food service worker, I am willing to bet that somewhere, someone made sure you ate a hearty portion of snot. What I find even more appalling than that is that the type of employee who is actually willing to go through with floor-spicing someone's food is not likely to limit such behavior to only a select group.
Believe it or not, there are some people who come into my place and they handle everything they are given like it was from a Level 4 hot zone. They inspect everything carefully- sometimes to the point that they will ask for cups of hot water to "sanitize" their silverware- or even ask for the plastic sets given with to-go orders. It would be easy enough to write these people off as paranoid nutjobs and to say that if they are that worried about how their food is being handled, that perhaps they shouldn't eat out; but I think those people got that way probably because something either DID get on their plate that shouldn't have been there, or because they have seen or heard of something happening like what these ex-Domino's workers did. Quite honestly, when things like this come out, I really can't blame them. It makes me paranoid too.
To Domino's corporation and the owner/operator of the store in question's credit, they acted swiftly, and immediately fired the two employees. Statements of apology have been issued and Domino's has said that they are exploring their legal options. According to letters from one of the dynamic duo posted on the blog The Consumerist (link HERE), she now says that the videos were done as "a joke" and that none of the tainted food was actually delivered to customers. Do you believe that? If you do, I have some prime oceanfront property in Arizona I would like to sell you...
The problem is that the damage is done. Can you imagine how regular customers must be feeling about Domino's right about now? If you lived in that area, would you ever order from that location again? I can't fault the owner- entirely. This is one of the things he has managers to help prevent. But what about those managers? How did they not see some sign that these two were doing some of these things? Even if they missed the offenses to the food, how did they let all the filming go unnoticed? Clearly it was done with a cell phone- how did they not catch their little Michael Moron documentaries in the making? In the last few years, not all of the managers I have worked with have been great- but try reaching for your cell phone, and they can all spot that before you can get the first number dialed. Since cell phones have become so common, controlling on-clock cell use has become one of the chief things that managers have to keep a lid on. Yet, at least FIVE videos were made. That's a minimum of FIVE times that camera was whipped out- and clearly, they didn't seem worried about being caught. In fact, in at least two of the videos, The Girl (I could name her but I choose not to) states that the manager has no clue what they are up to. If that is not a sign to the owner that it is time to take stock of the whole store, nothing is.
Does anyone wonder why there are such negative stereotypes about food service workers? These two probably had no concept that what they were doing was ever going to get them in trouble. I am sure that, even now, they aren't thinking about the potentially devastating effects this incident could have on that store. In a better economy, maybe this would blow over quickly and thus not be such a big deal. But with times as hard as they are- along with the legendary ability of the public to remember the worst offenses forever, while forgetting the best experiences immediately- would you want to spend your money at the store now known for its extra servings of snot? Can you imagine what it is going to be like for the employees who were not part of the shenanigans? They will certainly be under a microscope. And, last but not least, did these two even consider the ramifications that this magnificently stupid "joke" would have upon their own lives? Chances of getting a food service job- or any job, for that matter- dry up pretty quickly when your face has been plastered on blogs and websites the world over; and locally, the odds are excellent that they did their parents proud by appearing prominently on their local newscasts and newspapers. You can call me harsh if you like, but personally I hope that Domino's legally nails them to the wall. No, Domino's is not going to see any financial payoff from this- but it would send the message that this behavior will not be tolerated. You are never going to put a stop to it 100%, but in the words of fellow North Carolina resident and law enforcement officer Barney Fife: "You got to nip it in the bud!"
P.S. Am I officially really old if I am quoting Barney Fife?(Do you youngsters even know who Barney Fife is?!)