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We get all our ice cream cakes from a little, family-owned ice cream shop called Marshall’s Ice Cream Bar. They are heavenly. Different soft-serve flavors sandwiched in between hot fudge, crunchies, and whatever else you want. Our favorite is usually black raspberry and chocolate. The owners personally take your order. It’s always a nice experience — or at least it was until yesterday.

My in-laws and my mom were here for dinner and a visit. After dinner I went out to pick up some ice cream. The place was surprisingly quiet for a Sunday evening. I ordered my quart of banana ice cream and then decided I’d get some hot fudge for the grown-ups. The girl brought out two clear plastic cups to show me the different sizes available. I wanted the larger one, I said, but could she put it in a paper cup? My 7-year-old might have some and I didn’t want to have to worry about BPA leaching into the fudge. After all, hot liquids and plastic should never go together.

The girl, not sure of what to tell me, went into the back and brought out the owner’s son. I explained what I wanted. “I don’t want hot liquid going into plastic since I have two little ones and I’m afraid of BPA,” I explained. I asked for the same amount to be squirted into a plastic cup. He was downright nasty, holding up the plastic and telling me that THIS was how it was served. I understood, I said, but I didn’t want the plastic. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, everything is dangerous, and then they find out it’s not. You are the first person to ever complain about this. THIS is how it’s served,” said the son, who definitely never went to business school. Okay, so I would skip the hot fudge that night, I figured, but I had an idea. “Well, how about if I bring my own container next time?” He sneered at me like I was stupid. “THIS is how it is served.” I was stunned. He was being rude and disrespectful to me, a good customer, in front of other customers. THAT’S how you treat someone who has been patronizing your store and sending people your way for more than a decade? When he walked away I asked the clerk what the guy’s name was. Brendan, she told me.

This morning I called over to the store. I recounted my story. Not once did the owner apologize for her son’s behavior. Instead, she told me that they are very busy and very overworked and that did not sound like Brendan so I probably caught him at a bad time or maybe…and she sort of trailed off as if to imply that maybe I had been nasty to him. Then she finished her thought telling me that they deal with people all day and everyone has special requests and people “push” them. I did not push, which is why I started getting really mad. I am nice to a fault to anyone dealing with the public. I waitressed at diners for more than a decade — from the age of 13 until 23. I worked in towns that are notoriously tough. I know how people treat waitresses, retail clerks, cashiers, service people. Many treat them like dirt. As such, I go above and beyond when I am dealing with anyone who works with the public.

I explained that to her, telling her that as someone who worked with the public for a decade, I knew from Day 1 how important it is to be nice. “Maybe,” I said, “You should apologize for your son’s nasty behavior. The customer is always right,” I told her. She proceeded to tell me that they are short-staffed and how would I feel if someone called me and started complaining about my child. (Keep in mind that her “child” is well into his 20s from what I can see.) I didn’t tell her (I should have) but if my child was rude to someone at my business establishment I’d be pretty mad at my child. And I would apologize to that customer. But that’s just me, I guess.

Since she really didn’t believe that her child was mean, I told her that maybe she should talk to the other clerks and ask them how nasty her son was. My clerk, for example, looked like she was shell-shocked, I told her. The owner asked me what the clerk looked like. When I told her, she had the nerve to tell me that THAT clerk is new and she always looks shellshocked. Really???

We finished the call. She said she’d “look into” the BPA issue, but really, it was not a huge deal. She was so busy and had so much work to do. Bottom line: I did not get an apology. I got more rudeness. I am really stunned not just that the son was so mean but that she acted the way she did without knowing all the facts. Bad business in my opinion. Too bad she couldn’t just show me a little kindness and compassion. Instead, she defended bad customer service and lost a really good customer.

And the worst part, of course, is that they are still pour piping hot liquid fudge into clear plastic containers. It’s amazing to me that people in the food industry would be so uninformed about BPA and its dangers. They should be avoiding plastic whenever possible, as per a story from today’s DiscoveryNews. According to researchers, even plastic that’s marketed as BPA-free is leeching substances that act as endocrine disruptors.

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