Published: 10 years ago

FI Fridays: Covering the Mouse

Every Friday this fall, I’m doing a series titled “First Impressions Fridays.”  These posts are specifically designed for the First Impressions Teams at all of our campuses, but hey, read it anyway.  You might learn something useful.

Last Friday my wife and I went on our first official date day of the fall, with free childcare courtesy of the public school system.  Holla.  One of the highlights of our dates is checking out new restaurants.  We had heard great things about one particular place in Durham, so off we went.

(I should pause here and tell you that I do not name the offending parties that are the subject of bad guest services stories.  It’s more important to me that we maintain good relationships with community businesses, so I’ll only name places that deliver knockout services.  But for $5, I’ll meet you behind the building on Sunday morning and whisper the name of this restaurant in your ear.)

Editor’s Note: No, I can’t tell if he’s serious, either.

So picture it: we placed our order.  While I was in the restroom, a guy sitting the next space over asks my wife, “Want to see something disgusting?”  Normally that’s not a good thing to hear, so my wife – having the morbid fascination she does – looks to where he’s pointing.  There, by the entrance to the restaurant, is a big ol’ mouse with his hind legs stuck to a glue trap.  Yes, he’s alive.  Yes, he’s angry.  Yes, she lost her appetite.

That’s not the bad part of the story, because I’m sure that lots of restaurants have vermin.  I’m positive that if we knew what went on in restaurant kitchens we’d never eat out in a billion jillion years.  No, the bad part of the story is what happened next.  The man who tipped us off walked up to the counter and very politely informed a restaurant employee of the problem.  She somewhat loudly said, “Eww!  That’s gross.  We’ll take care of it.”

Then it was a good five minutes before an employee walked out of the back, and instead of inconspicuously just bagging Mickey up and taking him out back, he scooted the nearest trash can over and just set it on top of a live mouse.

Oh, wow.  So many issues arise here, but the biggest is that the employee didn’t fix the problem.  He covered up the problem.  Rather than making the experience right, he exacerbated the wrong.  Rather than restore our confidence in their commitment to cleanliness, they reinforced our concern that they didn’t care.  Rather than acknowledging and correcting the obvious problem, they took the easy way out and made a bad problem worse.

I can forgive the presence of a mouse in a restaurant.  (I’ve eaten in enough third-world countries to do so.)  What I can’t overlook is the fact that they overlooked an easy fix.

In your campus guest services experience, are you covering the mouse?  What are the blatantly obvious issues that you’re trying to sweep under the rug?  A bad parking plan?  An unfriendly, poorly-placed greeter?  A confusing childcare check in system?

Don’t cover the mouse.  Get that sucker outta there for good.  Your guests deserve better.  And like me and my wife, they probably won’t be back.

  1. J Thommarson says:

    C’mon…you have to tell us (at least me) where this was so I don’t go.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Ewwwwww! Where should I meet you? I’ll bring $20.00! So

    So this begs the question, did you eat? Have you eaten since? How long was your purel bath?

  3. amanda says:

    you STAYED and ate?!?!? Merriem… my Merriem sat there after seeing the rodent and actually ate food…. YUCK! But love the fact that you can apply it to a wonderful lesson!!!! I wonder how many “mice” I have hidden in my own home….

  1. By The Arrogance of Experience | Connective Tissue on October 1, 2013 at 10:01 am

    […] been a reader of this blog for any amount of time, you know that I’ll frequently publish posts highlighting a less than stellar guest service experience. And I suppose part of the […]

  2. By Danny Franks | Don’t Cover the Mouse on August 17, 2015 at 7:16 am

    […] earlier version of this post appeared in September […]

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