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Friday, April 5, 2013

The Business Lunch

In the early 80's I called on a major automotive company (which shall be nameless) that was headquartered in Highland Park, Michigan.  I was in promotional marketing, calling on automotive brand managers.  One in particular (we'll call him Mr. Man) was a good ol' Texan that would only set a meeting at 11:30.  I would arrive at his office and he would invariably be on the phone.  He would motion for me to sit down, and I patiently waited while he finished his conversation.  One in particular sticks in my mind and gives you a peek into his personality:  he was on the phone with his wife, who had brought home yet another stray animal - this time a dog who needed an operation of some sort.  Mr. Man asked how much was the operation and when she responded he said, "well, Darlin', let me ask you this - how much is a gun?".  (Oops, she hung up.  But I digress....)

Once off the phone he would say, "I'm starving, Doll.  Let's go to lunch and talk".  (I don't think men are encouraged to call women Doll today, but I'm quite sure he considered it a compliment).  He would then gather 8-9 of his best buddies on our way out the door, and off we would go to Joe Muer's restaurant in Detroit.  (This is what the boys like to call "paying your dues"....)  By magic, Mr. Man's glass of wine would be on the table when we arrived.  For all I know that table was perpetually set for 9 people and the poor unfortunate vendor who was going to pay the bill that day....

Mr. Man had a favorite waiter who took excellent care of him.  Appetizers and plates of food were brought, often without ordering - bottles of wine, etc. (people were still drinking at lunch in those days), and the bill was always presented to me.  Now, if you've ever used a credit card, you know that the name of the person paying the bill is ON the credit card.

I never got out of that restaurant for under $300 and always left at least a 20% tip.  Here's where that old-school older-male waiter screwed up:  He always thanked Mr. Man but never once said "thank you" to me or called me by name. (Guess he knew where his bread was buttered).   By writing off the 20-something girl paying the bill as inconsequential, he missed an opportunity to make ME feel like a "regular" and perhaps bring other customers in as well.  Instead, I NEVER would choose to go there without Mr. Man.

Karma took hold when the company relocated North and Joe Muer's closed after 50-some years as a Detroit institution, and this Doll was happy to see them go.  

(They've since re-opened in the RenCen downtown under new ownership). 

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