Tag Archives: bagel

Just count to five

I was out getting some pizza for lunch. The guy gave me my slices, I paid, took a few steps toward the door and then thought, wait a second, I should have bought a soda. So I took a step back toward the counter, but the pizza guy was facing the other direction, he was standing by the oven, having a conversation with one of his coworkers.


I was really hungry, and I wanted to get home and eat that pizza as soon as possible, but I didn’t want to be a jerk. Still, one second turned into two seconds, and I began to fear that I might be stuck there in pizza counter limbo, my food getting cold, nobody realizing that I hadn’t actually left the building, that I was still standing there, patiently waiting to be noticed, just a soda, please, I’ll be on my way.

By the third or fourth second, I remembered this one time I was at a bagel shop on Long Island. There were maybe four or five people ahead of me in line, but the guy right in front of me, you could just tell he wasn’t in the mood to be waiting, he kept fidgeting, looking around. As soon as the person in front of him paid and walked away, there was this two or three second pause where the cashier didn’t automatically turn his way and ask, “Yes? Next?”

She closed the drawer on the register, she took a bottle of Snapple out from under the counter, and she took a sip. As she was putting the cap back on the bottle, Mr. impatient in front of me, he screams out, “Can I please just get a sesame bagel with butter?” like really nasty, it was a yelling, he yelled out his order, like a total crazy person.

And I have no idea what this guy’s life is like. Maybe he had some sort of a family emergency back home, maybe he needed food in his stomach immediately, it’s pure conjecture. But I don’t know, regardless of whatever it is that you’re going through, I don’t find it ever acceptable to just shout things at people, “You! Give me a bagel!”

She didn’t even say anything. She just got him the bagel, put it in a bag, and he walked out in a huff. It was one of those moments where I really wanted to say something, a, “Take it easy, buddy,” something not too aggressive, but just aggressive enough. But I always get afraid of these random confrontations. It’s like, when I’m at work, I always think, man, if I didn’t have my job to worry about, I’d totally say something to this rude person or that inconsiderate guest. But then I get an opportunity like this in real life, and the moment passes without my having even mustered the courage to do anything.

And I get it, all the time at work, sometimes people have to wait, sometimes people refuse to wait. I think I write this almost every time I mention work or customer service, but you get a certain type of person who sits down and, while you’re in the middle of saying, “Hello!” or, “How’s it going today?” they’ll cut you off and bark out, “Diet Coke. No ice.”

Whenever I complain about stuff like this, or whenever I hear conversations regarding rude customers and their lack of pleasantries, there are always a few sure rebuttals, stuff like, “Well that’s your job,” and, “I’m not paying to be friends with you. I’m paying for a Diet Coke.” Yeah, you’re paying for a soda, you’re paying for a bagel.

And this argument is total bullshit, this idea that because you’re paying, because you are exchanging your money for something, that you don’t have to be nice. Sorry, I don’t mind being polite, but I’m hungry, and it’s my money involved, and so if you don’t like my acting like a dick, I’ll just go ahead and spend my dollar fifty for a bagel somewhere else.

Business is business, and so if push ever did come to shove, if that lady at the bagel place decided to fight back, it would have been a screaming match, the owner would have gotten involved, “Please, sir, I’m so sorry. Please, have this bagel, on the house. We appreciate your business. Please, I beg you, I’ll fire this lady. I value your patronage, don’t leave, here take another bagel, a free dozen.”

Unfortunately, this is the reality of customer service. I’m paying, so even though I shouldn’t be a jerk, I don’t have to not be a jerk. Because I’m paying. If you try to distill every human interaction into a monetary transaction, this is the natural result, where it’s perfectly acceptable to bark out orders or chew out the man or woman behind the counter.

And then the fifth second turned into the sixth second, I snapped out of my daydream at the pizza place, the pizza guy finished his two-sentence conversation and turned around. “What’s up boss, you need anything else?”

“Yeah, can I just get a soda please? Thank you.”

“You got it.”

And I went home, my pizza was still hot. Sure, I think I lost like seven seconds total, and yeah, I guess you can’t really put a price on time. Time is money, right? But everything was cool, I didn’t have to shout out, I didn’t have to interrupt. Everybody just needs to chill out and take a breath. Just count to five, man, just count to ten or eleven.

I invented the everything bagel

I’m feeling ripped off. This morning I got up and went out to the bagel store for breakfast. I’d get bagels for breakfast everyday if I could, but that would get to be kind of an expensive habit, for breakfast. I ordered my sandwich, went home, had some coffee. It was great. It’s always delicious. I’m not feeling ripped off about this breakfast. I’m feeling ripped off in general, because I shouldn’t be paying anything at all for bagels, ever. Because I actually invented the everything bagel.

One time when I was a little kid my dad took me to the bagel store for some bagels. “And what kind of bagel do you want Robbie?” my dad asked. I couldn’t think of an answer. Poppy seed, cinnamon raisin, pumpernickel. That’s not true, I never ordered pumpernickel. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody eat a pumpernickel bagel. If you ever ask for a dozen assorted bagels, they’ll never just throw in a pumpernickel. You get egg-onion, you get sesame. But pumpernickel? Never. I’d say it’s because they’re gross, but I’ve never tried one, and so I’ll just assume that it’s disgusting.

But on this day I couldn’t make up my mind, so I said to the bagel guy, “I can’t decide, I wish I could have a bagel with everything on it … an everything bagel.” And my dad was giving me one of those looks, one of those facial expressions that communicated how frustrated he was with me, just pick a bagel, Jesus, why did I have to take you along with me, you make every little thing more complicated than it has to be.

But he never got to complete his thought, because the bagel guy looked at me and said, “You know what? That’s not a bad idea. Not a bad idea at all.” And sure enough, the next time we went to the bagel store, there was a hand-drawn sign at the counter that said, “Try our brand new ‘everything’ bagel.” There was a line down the block, everyone hoping to get a taste of that bagel, with poppy seeds, with garlic, onion, everything. Even salt.

Nobody likes salt bagels. Nobody likes them, but they’re somehow marginally more popular than pumpernickel, because every once in a while you’ll order a dozen assorted bagels and they’re throw in a salt. And maybe your parents bought a bag early in the morning, and you got up at eleven and your mom says to you, “Hey Rob, sit down, we saved you a bagel,” and you can tell by her poorly concealed smile that something’s up, and sure enough, you look down in the bag and it’s a salt bagel. And you hate salt bagels, everybody does, but you’re so hungry you decide to make a go for it, to scratch off as much of the salt as you can.

But those bagel guys really loaded that thing up with salt. Coarse salt, the kind usually reserved for de-icing the streets after a blizzard. And since nobody ever buys salt bagels, even the bagel itself, the dough, it’s just old, staler than the rest, they probably threw it in the assorted dozen just to get rid of it. And what kind of a topping is salt anyway? It’s a seasoning, not a topping. You’ve got to have a pretty dead tongue to find a salt bagel at all appealing.

But spread out, mixed among all of the other toppings, salt actually works well with the everything bagel. And so that day with the line down the block, we finally got to the counter, and I tried to get the bagel guy’s attention, “Hey man, you did it. You used my idea … the everything bagel.” But the guy looked at me with a face of, I don’t know, scorn? Fear? And he said, “Hey kid, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” and then to my dad, “You guys going to order some bagels or what?” And I tried to get my dad’s attention, “Dad, you remember, right? The everything bagel?” But he wasn’t interested. In fact, the place was so busy, he didn’t even ask what kind of bagel I wanted, “Just give me a dozen. Assorted.”

So I didn’t even wind up getting to try one of my everything bagels for like another five months. It was torture. Everybody at school was talking about how much they loved the new bagels, how their parents stopped buying assorted bagels and only bought everything bagels, and sometimes they were getting bagels not just on weekends, but during the week, even on school days. Of course nobody believed me that I actually came up with the idea, that it was my creation. I didn’t even get to taste one until way after they came out, and so I couldn’t even share in the enthusiasm of my classmates without having tried what they were all talking about.

Oh yeah, and did I tell you what that bagel guy threw in with my dad’s assorted dozen? A bialys. Come on, that’s not even a bagel. I get it, it’s round, and it’s bread, but there’s not even any hole. Bialys are even worse than pumpernickel. In fact, I’d rather order an all-pumpernickel dozen than be forced to so much as look at a bialys in my bag of assorted. “It’s a bonus,” my dad said, “A baker’s dozen.” Please, if it were really a baker’s dozen, that would be the standard. You’d ask for a dozen and you’d automatically get thirteen. It wouldn’t have to be a sometimes bonus, a special treat. And secondly, what kind of a profession makes its own dozen with an extra bagel? If I were in charge, a baker’s dozen would only be eleven, and people would complain, “Hey, what’s the big idea? Where’s the twelfth bagel?” and I wouldn’t say anything, I’d just point to my own hand-drawn sign that read, “Baker’s dozen = 11 bagels.” That’s how you make money, not by giving away a free bagel for every dozen.

Man, but I’ll never get to try that out, because I’ll never have my own bagel store. But I should. I should be in charge of every bagel store, because I invented the everything bagel. They all owe me a cut, every one of these bagel places. At the very least I should get free bagels for life.