Picture this, Friday night fun that includes great friends, tasty food and libations to enjoy watching The Bulls vs. The Cavs in game 3 of the NBA playoffs. Watching Derrick Rose game winning buzzer was exhilarating and mind blowing. His display of athleticism in the last 3 seconds of regulation puts an exclamation mark on the old slogan NBA Action is Fantastic!

A perfect way to end a long work week of teaching at a University, over the road hauling loads, and running a business! Not so fast.

After lingering for a while to enjoying each other’s company and to revel in the moment, we closed our tab with the bartender. While leaving the bar area, another server yelled across the restaurant, “Hey! Are you guys gonna pay your bill!” The accusatory tone, exaggerated hand gestures and elevated voice were startling and made the hairs on my neck standup.

Why would the bartender, not familiar with our transaction, use this method to gain our attention if she thought we accidentally forgot to pay our bill? Why weren’t we given the benefit of the doubt? Aren’t customers always right?

After showing proof that the bill was paid, the flustered bartender insisted that the system didn’t show payment and required me to sign another receipt for their records. Is this the policy of a restaurant that wants repeat business? Shouldn’t the policy have been to talk with the serving bartender to verify payment before accusing customers of stealing?

She excused her actions by stating it was “ROWDY” in the bar area so she was unable to determine whether my friends and I paid the bill. I didn’t know my friends and I were secretly being watched to determine if we paid our bill.

The experience my friends and I had at the popular Outback Steakhouse restaurant was an unusual and memorable one. Encounters such as this one can easily be misconstrued, but one thing for certain, it illustrated how poor customer service can leave an aftertaste that will cause anyone to avoid patronizing at an establishment for years to come.