For the city of Buffalo, the name Tim Horton is probably the most meaningful name a resident could know. For one thing, Tim Horton was a hockey legend. He was one of the big names and leaders of the final dynasty of the Toronto Maple Leafs, whom he helped carry to four Stanley Cups. He was eventually brought to the Buffalo Sabres during his later years, where he acted as a mentor to the younger players on the new team. He died in a car accident en route home after one game, and today his name is embossed in felt from the rafters of First Niagara Center along with those of Pat LaFontaine, Danny Gare, and The French Connection. Arguably the greater legacy of Horton is the donut shop he set up in his hometown. His shop, Tim Horton’s, not only grew, but blew way the hell up and turned into Canada’s version of Dunkin’ Donuts. Being a Canadian joint, Tim Horton’s is randomly spattered along the American border too, where it dominates Dunkin’ Donuts. The average Buffalo kid grows up adopting Timmy’s as his favorite pastry place of choice.
Timmy’s outnumbers Dunkin’ by a ratio of at least five to one, a number which is generously conservative if anything. So it’s very unusual that I profess to liking Dunkin’ Donuts. It’s not that I have anything against Timmy’s; I eat there pretty regularly too because they have better coffee, a better sandwich selection, and by far the better bagels. The problem is that Timmy’s isn’t anything close to being my own personal secret. The place is so packed every time I go in that it’s tough to find anyplace to sit half the time. That’s why I give a bigger edge to Dunkin’ than most people in the area – the ambience is a lot nicer, the place is quiet, and it’s located almost right across the street from my local library. It’s also a pleasant reminder of my other home city, which is where I started becoming a frequent Dunkin’ Donuts customer. I think nothing of going in, ordering a quick snack and iced coffee to replenish my body – usually brutally ravaged from the bicycle ride over by then – and recovering by spending a half hour with my latest baseball tract or Star Wars novel. Also, most of the time, the customer service at Dunkin’ is a lot better. I have to make clout here for the fact that I’m a repeat customer the employees there know and like, and the fact that Dunkin’ in the Buffalo area usually aren’t stuck beating off winter shopping rushes with broomsticks, but still, they know me better than any of the Timmy’s I regularly visit in the city.
By now you’ve probably seen, or at least heard of the video. You know the one – the video of the customer walking into some Dunkin’ Donuts in Florida cursing out the poor guy behind the cash register. The employee, Abid Adar, certainly deserves the accolades he’s been getting for enduring a thunderous rant long after the point where Ghandi would have ripped her lungs out. The service I get at Dunkin’, though – or at least my location (Union Road, by Southgate) – is usually the exemplary service Mr. Adar gave his vile customer. It isn’t quite at the level of customer service I received at Potbelly, but then again, looking for Potbelly-type service everywhere would be asking way too much. When I started frequently Dunkin’ in Chicago (Timmy’s doesn’t exist there), the employees didn’t get to know me quite as well, but that was because there are about a bajillion Dunkin’ locations in The Loop alone and I chose to buy my late-day recovery coffee and sweet at whichever one I happened to be closest to that day. It wasn’t because the employees were any worse.
The media is giving a lot of coverage to Adar, which is refreshing because it brings a positive spin to the story and brings us a humane insight on a man who showed incredible grace under pressure. Does that make it wrong, though, for me to want to know a little bit more about his attacker, Taylor Chapman? Here’s the story I’m getting from her own words in her video: She drops into a Dunkin’ Donuts one night in Florida and is served by one of Adar’s co-workers, who says Chapman is entitled to free food the next day is she doesn’t get a receipt. Chapman abused the worker the previous night, saying that she was going to order the whole menu twice and calling the employee some names. Chapman got the food, though, and presumably went home and ate it. She then went to sleep, got up the next day, and thought to herself, I DIDN’T GET A RECEIPT! I’M JUST GOING TO VISIT THAT DUNKIN’ DONUTS LOCATION AGAIN, DEMAND MY FREE MEAL, SCREAM MY LUNGS OUT AT THE POOR KID AT THE COUNTER, POST A VIDEO OF MYSELF DOING IT ON FACEBOOK AND YOUTUBE, AND BE A HERO FOR EXPOSING THE ROTTEN WAY DUNKIN’ DONUTS CUSTOMERS GET TREATED!
That about cover it? Looking at the summary like that, I can’t help but mash my head repeatedly against my keyboard and wonder how the hell Chapman ever thought she would come out of this as the crystal rose. Dunkin’ Donuts has some particular policies on pampering customers, and apparently the one Chapman visited has a policy guaranteeing free food is there’s no receipt. And to be honest, I’m the kind of person who would abuse such a policy and order the entire menu twice myself. However, I would have been so polite and charming about doing so that Dunkin’ Donuts would have been happy to give me that same free order for the next year. Chapman’s behavior might just have destroyed her whole life – which, if Dunkin’ Donuts cares about worker abuse, will coincidentally be exactly how long Chapman is banned.
I couldn’t help but be a little bemused when Chapman mentioned her business degree and her online reviews of the Dunkin’ Donuts location in question. According to her logic, the two run hand in hand, which I guess technically means I’m now free to begin advertising myself as some sort of prodigy. I’m going on 13 years as an online reviewer. My work has gotten me discovered by three websites with exclusive qualifications for their writers, although I admit it’s a stretch to say The Examiner is careful about who it picks up. I created a fourth review website, a personal blog called Lit Bases, where I review baseball literature and which has been spotted by at least four authors whose work I’ve reviewed. My belief that I can someday write professionally isn’t exactly farfetched, and everyone I’ve ever met seems to think I’m a brilliant writer. Damn right I’m a brilliant writer! I mean, I must be brilliant if I was able to somehow circumnavigate the apparently requisite Bachelor’s in business, right?
The weirdest aspect of the hissyfit is that Chapman didn’t seem to really care about the food so much as the damn receipt. She complained to some of the other customers in the line – who come off like they wanted nothing to do with her – that she knew the employees there would be spitting in her food, and that they had once pissed in her fries. (Dunkin’ Donuts serves fries? Huh. Not in New York and Illinois they don’t!) Therefore, she wasn’t planning to actually eat the food anyway – just give it to her boyfriend. I wonder how he felt about that one. That means the food wasn’t even the point. The principle of not getting a small piece of paper with her meal was the whole point of an epic eight-minute rant in which one apparently crazy ex-model wrecked her whole reputation.
I like Dunkin’ Donuts, and their employees have been wonderful. On the occasions I’ve had to return food, they always handled it well. And there are times I’ve screwed up on my order too. How much does a receipt for a donut really mean? Well, if I don’t get my receipt from a donut purchase, I always think of this routine from the great comedian Mitch Hedberg: