Deli (en)Counters

Dear Deli Counter,

I'm writing to let you know all the things wrong with you in the hopes that you'll shape up and embrace changes after all these years of sameness.  It's time...

Lose the  Take-A-Ticket concept. It doesn't work.  Don't you know by now that ordinary folk can't follow direction?  Probably 5% of deli customers see the ticket machine, get the ticket and wait politely waiting for their number to be called so they can place their deli order.  The rest of the 95% ignore what you're supposed to do and just press themselves as close to the glass display case as possible trying to get the person's attention like their ordering a drink from a bar.  If you want people to use the ticket machine, the person behind the counter needs to actually follow the process themselves.  You wait on a customer and then advance the little digital number to indicate the next customer in the que.  What doesn't work is me walking up to the counter, pulling number 15 and the digital display says 4.  Use the technology you've been given! Oh, and get rid of that stupid plastic wicker basket on the counter for people to deposit their tickets into after they're all set with their deli order.  Most people just throw the tickets on the floor and walk away. I know...people suck.

Learn from the DMV. Now that's a system that works for stupid people.  If someone wants to order from the deli, line up benches in front of the counter so people can sit, relax and wait their goddamned turn. NOW you can use your silly take-a-ticket machine to dispense numbers.  If you do that, customers will have time to reflect on exactly what they want to order at the deli before they actually approach the counter.  No more, "Hmmmm.....let's you have any Boars Head Spicy Elephant Ears?"  They'll just approach the counter and order their damn meat.

Stop Playing Games. When I ask you to slice it thicker, do you slice it exactly the same way and see if I notice any difference?  'Cause I fall for it every single time.  How am I supposed to see if you've added a 1/16" more depth to my cheese slice? I'm all the way over there behind the glass with the stacks of bulkie rolls.  I can't see that far.  I say, "Yes, much better. Thank you very much." because I have their weird need to please you, but then I get home and have to perform surgery on my pound of American Cheese with my best knife because I can't separate the slices because they've been sliced too thin. I just want a normal cheese slice.  Can you talk to your pals in The American Association of Meat Processors and get a quorum on the width of deli cheese? Thanks.

No More Free Slices. Stop letting customers con you into asking for a slice to try before they buy it. I stand there silently hating you for prolonging the deli transaction because I've got to wait around for some annoying customer to decide if the ham is too salty for their delicate palate.  Enough with the taste test. Here's another piece of free advice: don't be fooled into thinking if you give a toddler a slice of cheese they'll shut up...because they won't.  They'll just reach out their grubby little hands for more. Or throw it on the floor.

Take A Lesson From Wegmans.  I think you'll agree that you get a lot of deli traffic crowding up your counters.  I know that's not a bad thing, but it's got to be annoying when so many customers are just ordering your basics like cheese, ham, salami, bologna, etc. How many times are you unwrapping and wrapping up the Polish Ham? Isn't that exhausting?  Wegmans, my favored grocer, actually has a little refrigerated area adjacent to their deli counter and they have all the deli meat staples wrapped in half-pound packages so customers can just grab and go.  No need to clog up the deli counter at all. It's the ultimate drive-by.

Deli Counter - I know you've got a tough job to do managing all those meats, cheeses and over-sized pickles for your customers.   I know the elderly can be annoying with their quarter-pound meat requests.  And I can certainly appreciate that the safety training can be tiresome just so you can guarantee that you're people go home at the end of their shift with their ten fingers, but you've got to do a better job.

Because if you don't, I might just have to go all Vegan on your ass. And trust me, if that happens, you'll lose your best over-sized pickle customer.

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  1. Michelle9:29 AM

    Oh Kimmy! As usual you have found yet another Michelle-related topic. As I spent many years BEHIND the deli counter trying to figure out exactly how many slices were in an eighth of a pount of pimento loaf for poor old Mrs. Lonely Widow! You are spot on with all of your observations and I only wish I had the space in this comment section to tell you the gritty truth about what goes on behind the counter, on the floor and God forbid any customer knows what goes on in the meat cooler in the back (I will say this, at one of my previous deli jobs the manager used to go into the meat cooler and SMOKE cigaretts like it was some sort of tiny little cold break room!!!)... you've scratched the surface of the smoked-meat world but the sordid underbelly is just as bad as what you see in the front (if not worse). :)