I decided to have a Subway sandwich for lunch last week, and I observed that a 40+ man was far too friendly with the employees. He and his teenage son were ahead of me, and his abundance of feel-good comments made my wait even longer.
Being nice and professional is fine, but it appeared to me that some of his comments were borderline weird. That is my opinion, and others might think they were normal, and possibly conclude that I’m the weird one.
To paint the picture, let me provide some examples of the comments I remember:
- “You’re working far too hard back there. It’s time for a break!”
- “Wow! The bread smells terrific in that baking thing [known as the oven]. You are good at what you do!”
- “I know it’s hard to take orders when working the drive-thru, especially a Subway sandwich. There are too many combinations. You’re pretty good at listening with that ear device [called a headset]. I’m sure it takes a lot of practice.”
- “Cleaning that stuff from the floor [known as dirt] sure takes some patience. I can tell your manager is happy with your work. I’m sure not many people are willing to take on that job.”
- “You’re fast with the vegetables. Your hearing is good because I’m actually speaking kind of low.”
- “It’s great that I came in today. This is probably the best Subway staff I’ve seen in years! You guys do good work.”
Mind you … I’m in line waiting for my turn. I almost hesitated to compliment the sandwich maker person. Even a “Please” or “Thank you” might lack the impact after Mr. Friendly maxed them out.
My turn finally came, and I ordered the 6-inch tuna on wheat, selected the vegetables, added a bit of olive oil as the dressing, and asked them to sprinkle some salt-and-pepper. After selecting the baked potato chips and a bottled Diet Coke, my order was complete.
Interestingly, Mr. Nice Guy’s comments were still in my mind, and it made me lose my concentration. In fact, as I approached the door to leave the sandwich shop, the employee called, “Sir, you forgot your sandwich!” Foolishly, I walked back and put it in the plastic bag, and blamed the temporary amnesia on a strong dose of Vitamin B, which come to think of it, was a silly comment.
Mr. Friendly’s son was not bothered with his father’s approach. In fact, I think he appreciated that his dad was complimentary of everything under the sun. I noticed they both were having a funny father-son discussion while they enjoyed their meatball sandwiches.
As I reflect on the situation, I think the problem is me. He was friendly, even if he went too far. He was doing his best to be complimentary, and perhaps that’s his nature. It sure seemed weird, but at least he was trying to be courteous. The opposite is a mean and bitter approach, and no one wants to see that.
You know … next time I’m at Subway I just might give that friendly approach a try.