Stone Cold Silence


So last night me and the missus went to look at a couple of townhomes, one of which we’re considering purchasing. We’d both had a really long mental day at our dayjobs, so I suggested we make the trip out to the Cold Stone Creamery on US 1, near the I-495 interchange. There’s not really a good place for ice cream near our current home and we both like the taste of CSC’s ice cream. So it’s worth the drive for us.

Read the rest of our adventure after the jump.

When we got to the store at 8:20 p.m., there was – as expected – a small line. A couple of families and two groups of teenagers.

And, surprisingly, only two associates behind the counter. Which isn’t a big deal, really. Except that they were really, really slow.

So we settled into place, as it seemed it would be a wait. I mean, if there’s only two people working and roughly 12 people in line, it’s going to be a bit.

Except….I noticed they had an erase board behind the counter (a large one) with four names on it, showing who was working what shift and their assignments. Four names – and all were working to close.

Ooookay. So where’s the other two?

Apparently, in the back. One’s washing dishes. The other comes trotting out with a pan of brownies – and after looking down the line of us (there’s now four people behind me) – PROCEEDS TO CUT THE BROWNIES.

No stepping up to help, no attempt to speed the line (there’s another open register to the left of us), not even an acknowledgement of our (still patient) existence. She just cuts them brownies like the world depends on them.

Think she stepped up after putting them in a covered dish and on the display case?

Heck no. She disappeared into the back again for another 5-6 minutes.

By now, it’s 8:34 (I’m taking notes now) and the line has only progressed through the one family of four that was up when we entered. And by now, the line is to the door – at my count, about 25 people. (You can see the line in the picture above – I took it after we exited the store.)

My wife wanted to leave at this point. I wanted to stay, however, but not for ice cream. I looked at her with a smile and said, “I’m a blogger. I have power. This’ll be fun.” So I whipped out a notepad and jotted down CSC’s mission statement posted prominently over the register:

“Fun friendly people who exceed customer expectation every day in every store, one customer at a time by providing quality product, unmatched store cleanliness, and superior service.”

Well, their ice cream’s pretty good and the store was clean; I’ll give them that.

As I was jotting down the statement as well as who was working (that’d be Jackie, Keith, Kelly and Teneisha), the brownie-cutter noticed me writing stuff down…and then finally stepped up and started helping. So now we’re up to two, plus the register person who’s running around doing non-ice cream orders. I wonder how much longer it would’ve taken if it wasn’t blatently obvious I was taking notes? (My wife urged me to interview people in line…)

Finally, at 8:45 my wife stepped up and placed her order for a small banana and oreo dish. There was no communication between any of the staff at all, save that stupid “Gimme a break” ditty they break out into periodically. Paying was perfunctory – no smile, no “sorry for the wait,” nothing. Though a very large tip bucket was prominently displayed.

Yeah, fat chance there, kiddo.

So what’s my point with all this? Easy. If you go to the CSC on US 1, don’t expect to go through the line any faster than rush hour traffic on I-95. And bring a book – you’ll be there a while.

6 Comments so far

  1. Carl Weaver (carlweaver) on May 16th, 2008 @ 11:11 am

    I haven’t been to that one but have certainly stood in lines like that. I can understand not being excited to work at the sticky ice cream store, but what about some pride in your work? Kids today – I don’t understand them. Maybe these folks just need a good manager. It’s clear that they don’t currently have one.

  2. Don (dc_don) on May 16th, 2008 @ 11:58 am

    Probably there’s work that has to be done by shift close and they are trying to slam it all out so they can get out the door as quickly as possible once they stop serving.

  3. bhrome on May 16th, 2008 @ 12:26 pm

    Probably…but it doesn’t excuse the air of indifference and ignorance.

  4. dodger on May 18th, 2008 @ 8:30 pm

    Yeah, I’ve always had bad service at that location. The one in Ballston is decent, but the last time I was at the one down by Hoffman Center in Alexandria was amazing – super-friendly and they whipped people through lock clock-work.

  5. washwords on May 20th, 2008 @ 9:04 pm

    the one at ballston is decent? sure if you like soup! ballston mall is always 800 degrees. the ice cream comes out accordingly, and is ALWAYS served with a scowl and some screaming kids in the background. Why do people insist on going to these chains for "the best ice cream" – uhh hello, Larry’s in dupont circle. So so sooooo much better. and nicer.

  6. Cracks in the Ice… | Washington D.C. Metblogs (pingback) on May 27th, 2008 @ 2:02 pm

    […] Remember this experience? […]

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