Be well. Practice big medicine.

Newman | The Positive Paramedic Project #23 Special orders don’t upset us

A nugget of EMS organizational wisdom every day.#23 Special orders don’t upset us

Let me preface this story by saying I am a vegetarian.

No worries, no drama. It’s a personal choice not a political statement. I don’t care what you eat. When our meat-a-tarian friends come over for bbq they bring their own stuff and we split the grilling space on the barbeque.

Back to our story.

Several years ago, I was part of a team brought into Jefferson City, Missouri to coordinate a series of homeland security/ emergency management exercises. My role was to research and write the scenarios. My managing editor was a retired US Army Colonel who made it his mission to ensure every single piece of a scenario puzzle was an exact fit for the reality it represented. So, I was in Jeff City as part of the field research involved in crafting one of the sub-plots for this particular episode of apocalypse [noun].

After a long day, our hosts were taking us out for dinner. They picked us up at the hotel and fifteen minutes later we rolled into the parking lot at a local steakhouse. Uh-oh, I thought. This could get interesting.

There was a brief wait as our table was being prepared. I caught a quick glimpse of the menu and quickly ascertained the closest thing to a vegetarian choice was the baked potato side smothered in bacon and melted cheese. Hmmm. I excused myself to go to the washroom and slipped quietly into the kitchen where I found the manager. I explained that I was a vegetarian and that the last thing I wanted to do was embarrass our hosts.

The manager shook my hand, welcomed me personally to Jeff City, and assured me that, just like in the old commercials, “Special orders don’t upset us.”

I returned to our group just in time to be ushered to a favored table. The waiter brought out the manager who greeted us each personally. The atmosphere was warm and relaxed. Clearly, our hosts had done everything they could to ensure we would feel welcome.

When our menus arrived, mine had a note inside. “It’s all taken care of, sir. Just go ahead and order the Chef’s Special.” Sure enough, on the regular menus there was a Chef’s Special Dish of the Day. So I ordered it while my colleagues and our hosts each ordered one of the steak specialties of the house.

After a round of drinks and appetizers, the main dishes arrived. Mine was a spectacular plate of grilled veggies on red pepper pasta that was so fresh I got the distinct impression it was home-made. The veggies were cooked to perfection with plenty of garlic in the mix and the rose sauce was superb. It was, without a doubt, one of the best veggie dinners I have ever had anywhere. And here we were, in a steakhouse, in Jefferson City, Missouri where veggies weren’t even an afterthought on the menu.

I was intrigued.

As we kicked back with coffee and dessert, I excused myself to go thank the manager for such a wonderful dinner. I told him it was an incredible plate and asked why they didn’t make it a standard offering on the menu. What he told me has stuck with me because I believe it is the single best story of customer service I have ever heard.

“We don’t do veggie food very well. It’s really not our specialty. So we called another restaurant in town whose specialty includes Italian food and whose pasta is world-class. I talked to their manager and explained the situation and they delivered your meal to our kitchen door. And that’s how your grilled vegetables on fresh home-made red pepper pasta sauteed in garlic came to be. I will extend your compliments to the chef of the other restaurant.”

Special orders don’t upset us.

No they don’t. They bring out the absolute best in people who are willing to go the extra mile for their clients.

Be well. Practice big medicine.



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