You Can Crown Me the King of Confrontation

Confrontation is an uncomfortable thing.

There is nothing pleasant about it. Sure, it isn’t the worst thing I could ever have to face. If I were to be forced to choose between confrontation and an angry bear, I would choose confrontation, but only because confrontation with an angry bear would most likely end with mauling.

Still, though, there is something about it that makes my pulse race. Maybe it’s because I am such a peaceful person. More likely, it has to do with me being a gigantic chicken. (Metaphorically, of course. I am not actually a bird.)

I’ve never been in a fist fight nor do I plan on being in one. If someone were to want to fight me, I would probably just hand them my wallet and curl up in a fetal position hoping they go away. I have eaten well done steaks because I didn’t want to make my server give me the medium steak I deserve. I once paid nearly $7 for frozen yogurt instead of arguing that their scale was wrong, which, unless my yogurt toppings were made of lead, it was.

Of course, sometimes confrontation is inevitable.

My wife and I went to have a nice burger this weekend. We had received an offer at a minor league baseball game for a free burger with the purchase of an “entrée” at a certain burger chain. In the interest of not dragging this particular dining establishment through the mud, I will not say their name. I will tell you, though, that it is named after a bird that happens to be the color of a very bad sunburn. And it rhymes with head dobbin.

We sat down and ordered. Since we have been married for so long, we now seem to always think alike. Because of this, we wanted the same meal. We each ordered a burger and fries and the required bottomless drinks to get one burger free. It was a good meal and at no point was I disappointed in the food.

Then the bill arrived.

“Sorry,” the waitress said, a look of sheepish apprehension on her face. “My manager said we couldn’t take off either burger because that burger is not part of the deal.” Then she was gone.

I stared at the check for a minute. Then I looked back at the offer on my phone. Sure enough, it said a “FREE burger with the purchase of an entrée and two beverages.” I thought back through the menu. There was not an entrée section, nor was there a note stating that this burger was not an entrée. When we had ordered, we were not informed this was not part of the deal.

My wife stared at me. I don’t know if she sensed trouble brewing in my mind, but she seemed to.

“Do you want to talk to someone?” she asked.

I stared at the check a bit longer. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, it is only $7. Of course at the same time, it IS $7. The whole reason we had come here was not for the jovial atmosphere or the onion rings they serve in a strange tower formation (More food should be served in towers, FYI), but for the free burger. Of course, I have never confronted a manager about anything because, inevitably, that would end with the manager yelling at me and banishing me from not only this restaurant, but every other restaurant in the entire world. I would spend the rest of my days at home eating bologna sandwiches and crying.

After three or four more minutes, I finally decided. I stood up and picked up the check. I pulled up the offer on my phone to show the manager. With a deep breath, I started to walk to the front.

With each step, I imagined how this would go.

“Yes sir, can I help you?” the manager would say.

“You’re darn right you can help!” I would say. “I want the burger that is coming to me! I DESERVE THAT BURGER! You will not stand between me and my free meal just because of some phantom definition of the word entrée!”

“Oh yeah?” he would say. Then I would punch him and as he lie on the ground, he would manage to spit out, “Yes sir, we’ll get that taken care of.”

I walked a bit faster, my feet hitting the floor harder. In my head, all I heard was rap-metal. I got a scowl on my face and stepped up to the host stand.

“Is there a manager I can talk to?” I asked in a tone that, I assumed, showed I meant business.

“Um… yeah. Just a second,” said the teenage girl before scurrying off behind a large bunch of balloons. I will say it’s hard to maintain your tough guy act when surrounded by balloons, but I managed to do it. The manager would come out to see me doing my best young Clint Eastwood impression. I’m sure it struck fear directly in his heart.

I took a deep breath as he stepped towards me. My grip tightened on my check and my hand slowly slid towards the phone in my pocket, ready to whip out the offer if need be.

“Yes sir, can I help you?” he asked.

“Yeah. My server said that this offer does not work with what we ordered?” I waited for his response, ready to pounce. The rap-metal had been replaced by a single voice screaming “KILL! KILL!”

“Oh yeah. Technically it doesn’t, but I’ll take care of it,” he said, grabbing the check and leaving.

I headed back to the table, very conflicted. On the one hand, I was not paying for the burger. I had gotten my way. Good for me. On the other, though, I had been prepared for debating, haggling, a bit of arguing. Then nothing happened at all. It was like being in school and studying for a quiz only to have the professor cancel it. Sure, you’re happy you don’t have to take the quiz, but you had spent so much time preparing for it.

He came over and handed the check back, wished us a nice day, and was gone. We left, $7 in my pocket and my first confrontation with a restaurant manager under my belt.

I’m not any less afraid of confrontation than I was to begin with. I will not be looking for opportunities to get in someone’s face anytime soon. I did learn a valuable lesson, though.

The only people who hate confrontation more than me are restaurant managers. Also, someone needs to define entrée a bit more clearly.

Seriously, why does more food not come in towers?

13 thoughts on “You Can Crown Me the King of Confrontation

  1. Well done for facing your demons. Or, the restaurant manager at the very least. I find that the best way to get what you want is to be very sweet about it. After I had had the tint on my car redone THREE TIMES (yes, THREE TIMES I wanted to SCREAM in the faces of the inept tinters) I suggested that since I had been so inconvenienced, they could provide me with some form of compensation. They came to the party with a full tank of fuel for my car. Luckily for me I was due to fill up. In the same week I had made my seventh trip back to the optometrist due to shoddy workmanship and inaccurate readings in the first place. I suggested that we had been truly mucked around and perhaps they could waive the fee for my husband’s lens upgrades. Certainly, Madam. Not a problem. We do apologise. See, smiles all round, and I got what I wanted. There was a third incident in the very same week which I have since forgotten about, but if you confront with a smile and a calm voice, and point out the issue, you are more than likely to get what you want and feel a great deal of satisfaction. (of course, I still want to punch the bitch of a receptionist who works at the real estate agency we used to use as our property managers.. her I do not, and never will, use sugar with. I simply scream down the phone at her.)


  2. I am still in shock that this is your FIRST confrontation w/ a restaurant manager. I speak to restaurant managers at least twice a month for the past twenty years. Usually, they are so worried about what someone will say, that they come to the booth and kneel down, fearing the worst. But I make a point to tell them (like last week) when our server smiles, keeps our drinks full, and refills the chips and salsa. Usually, the server will get a free meal out of it later, bc the manager is relieved to not have to comp the check or remake an order or hand out an apology gift card for your next meal. I also wonder where your wife’s head was during all of this; it is very appealing to have a man defend our honor. My husband is super non-confrontational, but he’s learned to toughen up around me, and when he actually pulls out that sword to begin slaying dragons, I’m so proud of him. Props to you for getting this one under your belt! And never eat a poorly cooked steak again! If I have to send it back twice, I make them comp it. Medium means “pink throughout.” A cook should know that, even if he didn’t graduate high school. And sometimes they’ll throw in a dessert in a to-go box, for wasting your evening w/ their inability to grill meat.


  3. Great article and very well-written. I don’t like confrontation either, but I will do it. Recently, a waitress charged my family the group tip when we had less than the eight persons stated on the receipt. Well I would have confronted her, but I knew one of my hot-headed sisters just might. But no! They were as calm as cucumbers and left me seething at them instead of the waitress. How did we know this girl didn’t do this regularly? This was money. And why shouldn’t we think we might be saving her job the next time it occurs? It wasn’t about the 18 percent since I tip more than that generally. When she returned to the table, I kept my peace. Oh well, I said nothing and let the incident go, but the next time I’ll spew vitriol both ways! (Yeah, this is the waitress who misunderstood me expressing that I was paying for myself and brought me the $90 bill for the entire table!)


  4. I heard somewhere that “it takes several customers to support a business but only one to destroy it”. That’s why restaurant managers are so scared of vocal customers. Most of their business is made up of repeat customers and that $7 burger could cost them them hundreds in future revenues if the customers around you are turned off. I say choose your battles and be fair but if you think you are in the right stand up and speak out. Maybe it’s petty but if it takes exploiting their desire to avoid a loud mouthed, pissed off customer that will ruin every bodies good time to get them to do the right thing.then that’s what you have to do. If businesses want to be successful they have to treat every customer right.


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  6. Makes you wonder, though, how many other people have gone into the restaurant specifically for the “free” burger, been charged for it, paid – and left without saying anything. They probably wont go back either, and will always be suspicious of future offers!


  7. I haven’t punched anyone since 2004. Punching people is a great way to communicate. Words and gestures can be misunderstood. Bop somebody in the nose and you get their full attention.
    Having played Ice Hockey for 19 years and been a Marine for 4 more years and a football player for 4 years it is impossible for me to calculate how many people I have punched. I hope St.Peter will have the number for me when I meet him at the pearly gates.


  8. this happens with me everytime. I plan the whole confrontation in my head and then I find that my plan is shredded to peices. The humans act exactly the opposite way and I’m like “WTF?!”


  9. Very nicely written and very true.I can fully understand your apprehensions of a confrontation. Even I have the same and have to quench it with a firm hand, for the fear of being taken lightly in this always-up-for-confrontation world !


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