General Etiquette > general

I want THIS potato salad, not the one on the shelf

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Having worked in a supermarket deli, I would agree that pre-packaged  salads with a packed-on  or sell-by date are likely to be at least as clean and fresh as salad that's served out of a deli case. The latter may seem fresher but that isn't necessarily the case.

Salad from the middle of a big bowl in a case might not be as cold as pre-packed salads.  Reaching over other bowls to hand-pack a pound or two of salad can contaminate other, more expensive salads.

Servers are usually very careful when serving cased salads.  When I worked at the deli counter, we had to monitor the  temperature of and and rotate bowls of such salads every few hours.

  It was a real pain when you were serving tuna salad you couldn't really see and a bit fell into the
shrimp salad or the Dutch potato salad. Everything had to be pulled and dumped.  The bowls had to be washed and refilled.

When someone working at a supermarket deli suggests a pre-packed salad, believe them.  It's probably the best way to go.       



It's perfectly acceptable to request that a person working at a deli fill a container for you. I do it all the time. For me, though, it is usually because I only want a single serving and the containers that wind up in the self-serve areas are usually enough for three or four people. If I'm not going home immediately, my leftovers would spoil and need to be thrown out. I don't want that, so I ask for one scoop if I can't find the serving size that I'm looking for on the shelf.

However, your particular request does strike me as rather odd. I see it sort of like finding a person in the produce department and asking them to bag up some apples for you instead of picking your own (or grabbing one of the already-made bags). They're the same apples, whether you grab a bag that the produce worker made that morning or you watch him put the apples in a bag right in front of you. It's the same potato salad, most likely from the same batch. (Other posters have already pointed out how the pre-packaged stuff may be the better choice anyway.)

Your request was perfectly acceptable, but you probably should have left off the implication that they were selling product that wasn't fresh. (I know that wasn't your intention, but it probably came across that way.)

I think this is one of those things where your request was acceptable, but also understandably annoying.

It's kind of like asking for the only dirty table in a large section full of clean, empty tables with similar distances from windows, entrance, bathrooms, etc. Paying customers had the right to request specific tables, but it was a bit exasperating, especially if I was recovering from a rush, and was busy, say, filling all the empty salt shakers before another horde of people came in.

Just because a request is annoying or a slight inconvenience doesn't mean it's ok for the service worker to acts exasperated or try to steer the customer away.  The salads behind the case are on offer for sale.  The reason the customer wants THAT salad is irrelevant. 

I get emails sometimes from parents asking for homework/project instructions that have a) been provided to students and are b) available on my website.  I'm not going to reply, "get it from the website, it's the same thing," I'm going to take the time to fill their reasonable request to maintain cordiality and goodwill on both sides.  It doesn't go unnoticed.

I think the person working in the deli was rude.  Speaking as someone who used to work at a deli, your request wasn't at all unreasonable.  I might have informed you of the salad on the shelves, in case you were in a hurry and hadn't seen it there, trying to save you some time, but arguing?  No.  It's called "Food Service" for a reason.  The fact that an employee might not feel like performing a particular service is irrelevant.  Unless a customer is rude, serving people is what they're paid to do.


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