None of us are perfect, we realize that. So a reasonable person should not be surprised or angry when a restaurant mixes up an order.
But at the same time, we want to make sure that we get what we asked for. It should be as simple as flagging down a waitress or walking up to the counter and asking for whatever it was that was forgotten or mistaken. But for those of us who dread confrontation, this is not always the case.
No matter the error, there is some discomfort involved in asking for a correction, because it necessarily implies that the person you are talking to has made a mistake. We realize that waitresses and baristas are busy people, and we hate to further inconvenience them or add to their stress. As a perhaps-overly-sensitive person that hates to be corrected myself, I am afraid that a server will think that I am blaming them or angry with them when I ask for a correction.
Or even worse, I fear that they will think that I am an entitled human who expects them to cater to my every whim.
Clearly, this is rarely, if ever true, but regardless of its basis in reality, this fear still makes it extremely difficult to muster the courage to approach the counter or the waitress and ask for help.
So, we engage in an internal debate over whether or not we can live with this mistake.
Minor issues, like unrequested onions on a burger, can be easily removed and overlooked, and the uncomfortable conversation avoided altogether. It is possible that we asked for the wrong thing, or that the person who took our order didn't understand us. We vow to speak more clearly next time.
But more serious issues, like a forgotten order, are difficult to ignore, even for the extremely shy and passive people among us. We wait far longer than we expected to wait, hoping that perhaps the restaurant is completing a more complicated order, and will get to ours soon. We wonder if perhaps they ran out of whatever item we've requested.
We hold onto our last hope, that they will see us sitting there and remember that they owe us a side salad or a coffee.
Finally, we acknowledge the fact that they have made an honest mistake, and we formulate a plan to approach them. Several factors must be taken into account, including the busy-ness of the restaurant, and the perceived stress level of the server.
When we are positive that the restaurant is experiencing a lull and the waiter or barista is willing and able to answer us, we timidly signal for their attention or make the fateful walk to the counter.
Ever-conscious of not acting like a jerk, we adopt as nonchalant a manner as possible so as to avoid seeming to accuse them of making a mistake. Sometimes we find ourselves apologizing as if it were our fault that our order was too complex or too forgettable.
When they cheerfully fix our order without batting an eye, we thank them profusely and return to our meal. As we drink our coffee or eat our salad, we continue to experience a dull sense of horror at the awkwardness of the situation. We are overwhelmed with love and gratefulness for our faithful server, who was willing to go above and beyond the call of duty in correcting our order.
Frequently, we vow to return to the restaurant, just to prove that we aren't as needy as we may have appeared when we expected to get what we asked for.
Meanwhile, the server in question is far too busy making the next order to condemn us as the entitled customers we think we are. If anything, they most likely wonder why we looked so uncomfortable when approached the counter to inquire about our forgotten coffee.