King’s Rule #1: Kings Do Not Need To Worry About Nickels

I was on my way to a meeting.

I wasn’t running late, but I was too far from home to head back for the bagel I made and accidentally left in the fridge that morning, so I drove through a Burger King on the way to the meeting and ordered a sandwich and a large diet Coke.

“Excuse me,” I said after the cashier handed me a bag and turned to get the next order ready, “there should be a large Diet with this.”

“You don’t want the fries?” he said with a look of confusion.

“What fries? Are there fries in this?” I tried to hand the bag back, but he nodded and then waved a hand at me.

He went to the soda station, poured a large diet Coke, and handed it out the window to me. By then I’d looked in the bag and spotted the large fry, which must have been what the order-taker punched in when what I said was “large diet Coke.” The mistake was easy to understand. I tried again to hand the cashier the bag. “Do you want the fries back?” I asked.

“Nah,” he said, adding, “You have a fine day, now.”

If I liked fries that would be a nice touch, I thought as I drove away, happy with my chicken and diet Coke. Fries for free in exchange for their error. Nice of him. Nice of them to empower him. Good place, I should try them again sometime.

It occurred to me later that I don’t even know whether a fry actually cost me more than the soda I really ordered, or less.

Having the wrong order fixed without a hassle was worth more than 5¢ one way or the other—hopefully I underpaid, but even if I overpaid, I was just happy to have the corrected order, fixed quickly, so I could be on my way with the right food and without fuss.

Doesn’t sound like a very tall order, but these days it’s increasingly rare not to have to jump through six hoops to get easy mistakes fixed. Studies have been done showing that our blood pressure actually raises in advance of having to deal with such trivial errors, probably because experience has taught us that we’re in for a fight to set things straight!

The moral of the story: Worry less about the nickels. More about setting things straight without a hassle. Hire nice people, empower them to make things right, and then they’ll be able to mean it when they say, “You have a fine day, now.”


Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson