When the boys were young, and we would be visiting their brother Derek at Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa, we would often stop by Ruby’s Diner in Mission Viejo on the way home. Ruby’s is styled on a classic diner, offering burgers, shakes and fries. They offer a kids meal, which serves a smaller burger, fries and a soft drink in a cardboard cutout of a car. The boys didn’t care much about the car, but they loved the burgers.

As they got older, the smaller burgers in the kids meal weren’t enough to quench their hunger. We started ordering them the slightly larger regular burger, but they swore the regular burgers didn’t taste the same as the kids meal version. What we really needed was a kids meal, plus an extra kids burger. I was willing to pay for the extra small burger. But when I proposed this, I was told it wasn’t an option. 

So as the next few years went by, the boys ended up with a kids meal and being still hungry, or a regular burger which they didn’t much care for, and more fries than they wanted. Every few visits, I would try again to get a kids meal with an extra kids burger, but the answer was always that it wasn’t possible.

You can imagine the excitement when Ruby’s announced they were opening a location at the Carlsbad Company Stores, only minutes from where we lived at the time. Of course we went there on their opening week. I figured this was my chance. They would be eager to impress on their debut week, and surely would figure out a way to get us a kids meal with an extra kids burger.

Our nervous server, after only two days on the job, said she would have to check with the manager. I was sure the manager would use it as a teaching moment, on how to take care of customers. The confident young manager came up to our table, and informed me that, because there was no button on their cash register for just the small burger, there was no way for them to fulfill our request. If I had owned stock in Ruby’s at that point, I would have sold it.

Sometime later, we walked the Oceanside Pier, and stopped in at the Ruby’s now occupying the end of the pier. As we sat down, a somewhat older waitress came up, addressed us as “Hon”, and asked what we wanted. I had a good feeling about her, she had clearly been around the block a few times, so I requested a kids meal with an extra small burger. She said “Sure, Hon”. And sure enough, the kids meals with the extra small burgers arrived. I don’t know how she got the cook to prepare the extra burgers, if she said she dropped them and needed replacements, or more likely, had worked with the cook long enough that he didn’t ask questions. I don’t even recall if we got charged for them, if she put them on the ticket as an extra fries or drink. What I DO remember is that 1) she didn’t bat an eye at the request and 2) she made it happen.

If I were in charge, she would be immediately promoted to Vice President in charge of customer service training. She took care of the customer, as a lowly waitress, when a manager had told me previously that it couldn’t be done. She believed, as I do, that we should always lead from wherever we find ourselves in an organization. She inspired me, to have the same attitude of figuring out a way to make things happen for people. What’s your story of experiencing amazing service? Or of delivering amazing service?

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