I go to this awesome ice cream place in the Berkshires. It’s great. But every time I order my sundae, they ask a followup question, “Do you want whipped cream and nuts?” And I always think to myself, why do they have to ask that question? If you go to a small ice cream place and you order a sundae, you shouldn’t have to confirm the fact that you want whipped cream and nuts. That’s part of what makes a sundae a sundae. Otherwise it’s just ice cream and one or two toppings: not a sundae.
And I know it’s coming, the dreaded question, every time I go, the same exact intonation and pitch. I can imagine the high schoolers training for the job right before the summer. The owner has them all lined up, reading from a script, “Whipped cream and nuts?” not even a full sentence, just the two items spouted in the form of a question, until it become more of a reflex than anything else.
What happened? Did you get burned one time years and years ago? Did a guy order a sundae, and after you made it, did he complain, “Ooooh, I didn’t want whipped cream and nuts. You didn’t confirm with me. You’ll have to make it again,” and as you watched that sundae and all of the profits it represented head straight into the trash, did you vow yourself to never let that mistake happen again?
What about a cup? Ooooh, sorry, I actually wanted that sundae on a plate. And you didn’t confirm with me whether I wanted it in a cup or on a plate. Actually, I just want you to make it right in my hand, no cup, no plate, nothing.
That would be ridiculous. Asking if I want whipped cream and nuts is also ridiculous. The burden of making sure there aren’t any unwanted toppings falls squarely on the customer’s shoulders. All right, stop asking me so many questions. “Napkins?” Just give me some napkins, you just made me a gigantic sundae with all sorts of toppings and whipped cream and nuts falling over the sides, of course I want napkins.