I’m used to making mistakes. After all, I run a restaurant and while I start every day with the intention of avoiding faux pas, the truth is that the real skill is in putting things right when they inevitably go wrong, even though you didn’t want them to go wrong in the first place. It’s just the way it is. We’re people and we’re dealing with people and it’s like the Jeremy Kyle show (not that I’ve ever watched it): we can’t avoid drama.
And so it is that we employ people to carry plates and not drop them, and take orders and not get them wrong. But as we employ humans, we know it’s going to go wrong somewhere. It’s why we actually employ people who initially can’t carry plates or take down orders. Their real talent is in their ability to deal with people – when things go wrong.
I’ve a natural talent in this area because for most of my life I’ve done a lot of things wrong – and then fast-talked myself out of trouble. So I don’t normally need help when I make these inevitable mistakes. But occasionally, just very occasionally, I get flummoxed.
For instance, I received an email a few days ago from a chap telling me about every dish he and his family had eaten when visiting the restaurant. He tore every dish apart by . . . . well, actually, describing every dish exactly correctly. It’s like he was saying he’d bought a sports car that took at least seven seconds to accelerate to 60, only sat two people and necessitated a slow-down to put the roof up when it started raining. Whilst that’s exactly what it said on the sales blurb, he wasn’t happy as a result. Our customer didn’t like his experience one bit but somehow I don’t think he was expecting a British restaurant.
Replying to him was extremely difficult because I could do nothing but agree with everything he said while pointing out that I was proud of everything he’d mentioned. It was very difficult not to appear rude or facetious – even though I probably did. He hasn’t responded.
And then there’s the reaction you get from the stuff you put out on Twitter and Facebook and so on. I’m not actually into this stuff at all but recognise its value when it comes to business. So, every day or so I suddenly sit up and tell myself I’d better twit. If you happened to look at me at that moment you’d probably see a rabbit being approached by a car at night, on full beam.
What to say? “Ooh last night was good in the restaurant”. Well it often is. That’s not interesting, is it? “We’ve got a new waiter”. Maybe a little more interesting but it’s not going to change your day although it might the waiter’s.
But a few days ago it was easy. I’d got some new sheep to put on my smallholding (to avoid confusion, that’s a paddock in case you don’t know). But these weren’t any normal sheep. They’re small and brown and classed as a primitive breed which seems apt if you’ve ever seen me first thing in the morning walking down to them.
Now, I’ve had some notable adventures with my animals and, when down the pub, my friends beg me to regale them with my tales of humiliation when trying to round them up or worm them (the animals not my friends, that is) or any of the other various things I seem to always be naively doing for the first time.
You see, I believe strongly that we should try and source our food-stuffs from ethical sources as much as possible. And by rearing some of my own animals, it means I have a better understanding of the processes involved when I talk to proper farmers about the subject when buying for the restaurant. So it’s then that Twitter and the like becomes invaluable because I want people to know that I’ve nearly died for my beliefs; that I totally disregard my personal safety when it comes to sourcing meat for the restaurant. As we serve mutton, a lot of the sheep that I’ve reared grow a fair bit bigger than the ickle lambs one sees in the fields. Some of them grow to the size of small donkeys and, particularly the adolescent, male, castrated (maybe there’s a clue there) sheep, have the temperament of Mike Tyson on a really bad day. I’ve the bruises and scars to show for it; both physical and mental.
So a few days ago I twitted that we’d got these new guys and one of them happened to be a particularly photogenic baby lamb. So I included a picture in my twit citing it’s subject as future menu fodder. Inexplicably, this seemed to create a backlash.
So, can you help me? Where did I go wrong?