A little background to my story. I live in the state capital, over 1,000,000 people live in the “metropolitan area.” I work at a restaurant that serves a ton of different food, but also brew their own beer, but is best known for our pizza. We are not a bar and we are not a “pizza place.” We are an upscale casual restaurant. We have two locations in the “metropolitan area,” one on each side of the county. On Friday, our state endured severe thunderstorms. The wind and lightning causes trees to fall over, things to catch on fire, and knocked out power to almost 1/3 of the state (this is important). Our governor has even declared a state of emergency.
Back to my work, our location across the county lost power. To keep their food from spoiling, they brought it all over to our location. We then find out that our restaurant is one of the only places IN THE ENTIRE COUNTY that still has power. (We think this may be because the building was literally built less than a year ago and everything is brand new). But alas, all this extra food did not help. We were slammed. Since barely anyone had power, and we were one of the only places open, we had a much, much higher than usual crowd of people. We actually started running out of certain foods. Pizza, being the main thing. This is not to say we didn’t have anything to serve. Our menu is 16 pages long. The thing is a book. There is literally something for everyone.
Cue to the take-out line. I was just informed, literally 10 seconds before, that we were out of pizza when, we’ll call her “Jane”, calls wanting, you guessed it, PIZZA. I politely inform her that, I am sorry, but we are currently out of pizza, but can we prepare anything else for her. She gets angry and demands to know, “How in the hell we could possibly run out of pizza! You advertise that everything is hand-made and fresh so how are you out of something?” I tell her politely that yes, we do in fact make our food in house and fresh, but we had run out of ingredients to make more pizza crusts. She FLIPS. How dare we run out of pizza! Don’t we know that she doesn’t have power and she can’t make food? How dare we starve her children! And, “Let me speak to your manager.” Umm what? My manager can’t magically make you a pizza that we have no ingredients for! Despite that pesky little fact, I do get my manager for her, where he proceeds to tell her the exact same thing I just did, albeit a little ruder because he was just pulled out of the kitchen where orders are taking 30-45 minutes because there are just so many of them (we usually take 15-20 minutes). After he speaks with her and informs her we can make her something else on the menu, he hands the phone back to me. The woman AGAIN yells at me for having the audacity not to have pizza! After she’d spoken to my manager! As the phone was ringing off the hook, I asked her if she planned to get anything else. She again grumbled about her kids wanting pizza. So I interrupted her rant and said, “I’m sorry ma’am, but since it doesn’t seem like you will be ordering a meal from our restaurant, I have other customers to serve. Have a good day.” And hung up! 0704-12
For one small moment in time, you thwarted the entitlement training of several junior gimme pigs.
Natural disasters have a way of bringing the entitled people out into the open. We came through Hurricane Fran years ago with no power for 10 days and for the most part neighbors and friends worked together to clean debris and help with food. Half the neighborhood got their power back before we did so we emptied the freezer of meat and gave it away which came back to us in the form of hot meals and dinners invitations. I remember practically kissing the National Guardsmen who manned the local high school so residents could take showers. The only ugliness I encountered was a band of angry homeowners in another subdivision who literally took to the streets to protest that their neighborhood still did not have power. Those of us in cars were backing out of there to avoid the drama which was, for some odd reason, directed at cars and not at the electrical work crews. Ummm, I don’t have any power either…why are you threatening me who can do nothing about it?
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Somehow I’m guessing that the irate lady probably does not cook at home on a regular basis. Yeah, its disappointing that you didn’t have the pizza but I’d hope the lady at least had food to throw on the grill or peanut butter/bread to feed the kids. Maybe not.
Wow! I’m sorry the OP had to endure that — especially if she had to multiply it times a hundred thanks to all the additional customers.
I know from experience that heat and humidity seems to bring out the worst in people (myself included). Add to that the lack of power and look out!
Hope your area gets power soon.
I’m in the Baltimore area and just got our power back yesterday. When you have children in the house it is extremely stressful. Sunday night my kids were in tears over the heat. You feel helpless to be able to make them comfortable. Perhaps the woman was extremely stressed out. It DOES NOT MAKE IT RIGHT. But it honestly might not be how she usually is. Things like this usually bring out the best or the worst in people.
I have only endured power outtages a couple times, and for very brief periods, so I can’t really begin to understand how that woman was feeling, but somehow, I think that she overreacted just a TAD at being told there is no pizza left. Really, how does yelling at a total stranger help her situation? Two total strangers if you count the manager! In a situation like that, a reasonable person would have a second and third choice at the ready, taking into account that she is calling the only restaurant with power probably in the whole county that maybe, perhaps, other customers had the same idea that she did?
I work in customer service myself and routinely either I or my coworkers are yelled at over things we cannot possibly control. There are times that, at the end of the rant, the customer even acknowledges that, I know you guys can’t do anything about it, BUT. Fine, just use us as punching bags then until you can talk to someone who can resolve your issue!
Hahaha, we had that same heat wave/outage situation.
In your callers (only slight) defense, I bet she was driven to the edge of madness by the heat. I know I was extra cranky! Still, there’s no call for flipping out over not having pizza.
We saw both extra insanity and extra kindness during this heatwave & power outage combined. With the power out so many gas stations were also out. No electricity means no gas pumps which means no way to sell gas. Most generators run off gas, not to mention the gasoline needs of chainsaws and other equipment. Plus many people took some refuge in air conditioned cars. So there were big lines at the few that were operating to gas up the car or fill up cans. When I was there I simulateously saw someone bitching out management for not letting him charge his phone at the gas station and saw one customer paying for another customer’s gas.
Natural diasters, heat & no electricity does seem to bring out the worst in people.
I think we all understand pizza woman was extra stressed (no power + hungry kids= extremely stressful). Seems like she needed an outlet and choose OP and her manager.
Sorry, OP! Next time you have a power outage, save enough crust ingredients for pizza woman! (haha)
Power outages can bring out the worst in people, particularly those who already feel entitled.
I’m glad the OP had a manager who would/could stand up for the employees, and I doubly glad the OP felt empowered enough to politely hang up on the woman.
As an aside, the word “literally” was literally overused in this one.
My power was out for three hours yesterday, it was into the nineties , the heat index was over one-hundred degrees, and I thought how I do not appreciate the great gift of electricity until it is taken away. Hurricane Andrew meant that we were without power for two weeks and it was the longest two weeks of my life.
I cannot credit the lady for being stressed out. They were out of pizza, not out of food. Her children would have learned an important lesson if she had said, “Kids, they ran out of pizza, do you want …?” whatever else was available.
You cannot always have what you want when you want it. You learn to be patient and you learn to compromise. You also learn that screaming will not get you what you want. Pull up your big girl panties and get on with it.
I feel terrible for the people who still lack power – it must be maddening in this heat and humidity. Several people in my office have brought their kids in with them so they can shower at the gym and then be in the air-conditioned office for the day. There’s literally nowhere else for the kids to go.
I work as a receptionist for a federal agency and get yelled at by callers almost every single day. I’ve learned to be empathetic because it can shut down the tantrum before it even happens. “I understand how that would be frustrating/upsetting/annoying,” repeated as many times as necessary, defuses all but the angriest people. If a caller gets truly insane, try saying, “I can tell this is very upsetting for you. Would you like to take a moment to compose yourself and call me back?” It gives you a graceful exit from the conversation and lets the caller know 1. you can’t be bullied, and 2. when they’re ready to be an adult, you’ll be very happy to help them.
Another survivor of the power outage here (finally got power on Tuesday night). I agree with other posters that the woman may have been over-stressed by heat and miserable kids. But even when you are under a lot of stress, you need to be gracious. What works for me is to concentrate on doing as much as I can, and not worry about anything that I can’t do. I can do what I can to salvage the freezer contents (borrow freezer space from neighbor with generator, cook for self, take slow cooker to work and cook for co-workers, or, like me, all of the above).
Hm, pizza without power. Flour, water, yeast, oil, salt, for the crust. (Another reason to be friendly with your neighbors: you can offer hot pizza in return for any missing ingredients that they may have.) Kneading would be a bit of a pain in a hot kitchen, but the dough would rise very quickly. Pat out into a disk. Heat grill (gas or charcoal).* Place dough disk on oiled grate. Flip when browned a bit. Top with whatever tomato sauce, cheese, and vegetables that you have managed to scrounge. Close lid, cook a little longer until cheese melts. Serve to hungry kids.
*May also work with a cast iron skillet/griddle and a camp stove.
After Ike, some businesses that got power opened their doors as cooling, and recharging stations. You didn’t have to buy anything. In some cases they didn’t have anything to sell food wise because of the power having been out. They were smart and posted very clear signs. You could go in and cool off, they were also letting people recharge phones, laptops and other portable electronics. If they had wifi that was open also. Those places earned a good deal of loyalty from the neighborhoods around them. It sounds like the OP’s restaurant was providing a similar service – and they had food to sell also. The woman was completely out of line.
The woman was terribly rude, but a power outage for an extended period of time, with hungry kids and in the heat, can make anyone extra miserable and possibly, much more rude than she would normally be. Rather than hang up on her (and believe me, I can understand the OP’s frustration and exhaustion, too), I might try an extra dose of kindness and offer her anything else (e.g. “I know that you are stressed out with the heat and the lack of power, and I am so sorry we are out of the ingredients to make pizza, but we can offer you X, Y, and Z – would you like to order anything else?”) In extreme circumstances, people’s best and worst behaviors can come out, and sometimes, from the same person.
She could be an entitled gimme pig, or simply an exhausted, sweaty mess, in the heat, with multiple cranky kids (how do we know they’re entitled? Maybe, just tired, sweaty and hungry?) and completely exasperated at that point.
If you yell at someone long enough, they will reveal themselves to be a wizard. At that point wizard law is clear: they have to pull their wands out of their backsides and magically make your problems disappear. That’s a fact.
If her children were really “starving” surely she would be greatful for any food? If I was ringing up to order a pizza and the place didn’t have it I’d think of another choice or ask what would be recommended.
@ Josie, the woman said that she didn’t have any power and we can’t assume if she is cooks regulary or not but you are right though anything would do even a sandwich. If the woman had NOTHING in th ehouse then surely she would want something else that was jsut as good as a pizza?
Over here in CA last year, my area was hit by a massive windstorm. No rain, no flooding, just winds over 100 mph that left us without power for a week. And I have to agree with Susan – it’s unbelievably stressful.
Happily, because the power grids for 4 different areas overlap where I am, places even a block away might have power. The line at the Starbucks was out the door, and they were out of pastries, but everyone was huddled together sharing outlets and the baristas were fantastic.
Hurricane Juan left many in my province without electricity for an extended period of time – my parents were without it for almost 3 weeks. For myself lack of power meant not only lack of electricity but a lack of WATER, including flushing facilities. I had young children, a freezer full of thawing food, a toddler for whom I could not purchase any milk ( the stores had none, as they were in the same situation as I was) no gas in my vehicle and no cash to buy it with, as both gas stations and bank machines were not functioning anywhere. The entire province was extremely unprepared – it sounds outrageous but the only precautions I took was to make sure I had a lighter for candles and to fill ONE POT with water the night before. It was completely beyond my comprehension ( and that of all of my neighbours ) that it would be possible to be without power for more than a few hours. We simply never get storms like that.
I saw so many acts of kindness, thoughfulness and compassion that I cannot even begin to list them here. People were simply amazing to one another. To read something like this leaves me with no compassion for the woman who wanted the pizza. I have no doubt whatsoever that she was stressed to the end of her rope, but it wasn’t a situation that she alone was experiencing. She was out of line – there was plenty of other food so she needs to accept it like a big girl and move on!
I am a firm believer in being extremely honest. I see no reason why the OP or the manager could not have said, “m’am, because of the power outage and the fact that we are serving as many hungry souls as we can with what food we have, we do NOT have pizza left and can not get any. You WILL have to order something else or I need to go take care of someone else who needs my help.” Why is that so wrong?
Desperate times call for graciousness, compassion and consideration, not perfect manners.
The lady on the phone’s behavior was unacceptable.
Sometime around 1994, my school took 3 buses of kids towards DC (from Mississippi) for a spring break trip. There was a terrible snow storm heading for the area we were driving thru. Right outside of a place called Witheville Va, one bus stalled completely (the other two weren’t doing so well in the snow). The decision was made that continuing further towards DC was impossible. (I am glossing over how serious the road/snow situation was to get to the point…) The local HoJo agreed to house three busses of jr high aged children and the worn out already chaperone’s. At the bottom of the hill the HoJo was located on was a Bob Evans restaurant. The first day our large group arrived to be fed. We ordered from the menus and were reminded by our chaperones to be very patient as they did not have a full staff due to the snow storm.
By DAY FIVE of eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner at this same Bob Evans, we happily ate whatever they could serve us. There were very few waitresses that had waited on us day after day. They had been stranded at work and given rooms at the same motel. Same thing goes for a cook or two and a manager. Us kids were gathered in a meeting by the chaperones and told that we were NOT to complain about the restaurant being out of what we wanted and that we should be grateful the restuarant had been opening to serve us and pretty much only us during what we learned was a major blizzard (Mississippians are terribly unfamiliar with this concept). A few of us made some very home made looking thank you notes for our motel staff and the Bob Evans. We did not have Bob Evans restaurants in our area until a few years ago, but almost 20 years later, I can not pass a HoJo sign or Bob Evans without silently thanking those poor workers that did the very best for a bunch of stranded kids. (I can still see the face of the older african american waitress that served us every day and I’ve often thought of her and hoped she won the lottery and never ever again had to work standing on her feet all day.) I’ve only met one person from Wytheville as a grown up, but I automatically had a good impression of her because I think highly of that town, even tho I’ve only seen the HoJo and Bob Evans, and that was during a blizzard!
If the grown ups of our group and us kids could comprehend “emergency situation” and just be thankful for anything we were able to have, this woman could do the same. Even scared and completely out of our home element our grown ups repeatedly reminded us to be polite and not complain as we were fortunate 1.our buses did not slide off a mountain killing us all & 2. we were not stranded in the middle of no where on the side of the road. end of story.
Please chalk her up to just rude and probably very frustrated. OP, I know working after a natural diaster when you are the only place open has to be trying for you. However, for every customer like her, I hope you have three like me that will remember you very kindly for a lifetime for doing your job under such circumstances.
I feel for the OP. People can be over the top if they cannot get what they want when they want it. No excuses. I used to work at a 7-Eleven and was working the day before a three foot blizzard hit the Philadelphia area back in the 90’s. It was non-stop, one customer brought almost $100.00 in frozen food. We began to run out of items, since we did not carry a huge number.
People would not believe we were out of bread, eggs and milk. They would keep repeating to check the back room ( which is not a tunnel to Hogswarts) and then leave in huff after screaming how they will never ever come back here again…until tomorrow or the next day,
We did get a milk deliver later that night and the people swarmed the truck and would bring the gallons back in the store to be rung up. It was the craziest day ever.
People around the world live without electricity, running water, and pizza…things we in the first world take for granted. Yes, I’m sure this lady was upset about the lack of electricity and cranky kids, but that doesn’t give her the right to be nasty with someone. She was told there were no ingredients for pizza and even the manager told her the same thing. She should have ordered something else or hung up. Giving this lady excuses justifies that it’s ok to be nasty if a bad situation is happening. Hurricanes, power outages, etc…aren’t reasons to be nasty. That lady is showing her kids that it’s ok to be nasty if you’re stressed. Not a good lesson.
@Andie: Ugh, that’s such a common misconception. All restaurants and stores have elves, not wizards. It’s call centers that have the wizards.
Magic domino- Have you ever heard of those cast-iron utensils that are about the size of a piece of bred, they fit together top and bottom, and they are supposed to be made for cooking hot sandwiches over the fire while camping? I wish I remember what they were called. We had a set of those when I was a kid, and whenever we went on our family vacations we’d bring those and cook pizza sandwiches over the fire. We broke them out again a year or two ago when we lost power for a day, and lit up our burn pile to cook over (ticked off the HOA VP that lived nearby but the police told him to give us a break) since everyone was forced to grill or cook over flame, and our grill was loaded with veggies. We went around to some neighbors who were elderly or disabled and offered pizza sandwiches and grilled veggies, and they were happily received. It helped us, as well, get rid of some of our food instead of letting it go bad.
Every restaurant I’ve been to, if they run out of something, they send a wait-person out with a menu and offers recommendations for a replacement, or you just pick off the menu. If I was unfamiliar with their other things, I’d ask for a quick rundown, then make an executive decision. During a power outage if I was lucky enough too get through to a restaurant with power I’d hope I’d realize that they’re probably crazy busy, and don’t have time for me to console my child who wanted pizza and then have them pick something else. If I were the manager I’d lay down the law, we have x, y, and z. Are you interested? One more mention of pizza and I’m hanging up in hopes of finding a more reasonable person.
The behavior this woman (can’t call her a lady) demonstrated is called “displacement.” Basically, she’s angry and frustrated because she has no electricity, her kids are crabbing at her, and she probably can’t get anyone to give her a reasonable realistic estimate of when things will start to be okay again.
She’s mad and upset and since her situation is caused by something that nobody is really to blame for. So she displaces the anger and frustration she’s feeling onto the poor guy at the restaurant. He is the recipient of all the pent-up ire this lady has accumulated over a situation she has no control over. So she dumps on him. Displacement.
That isn’t an excuse, because we human beings are supposed to rise above such things. But it’s actually a very common way people have of dealing with stress: bite someone who can’t bite back.
On the whole, I completely agree with the advice and commiseration offered to poor OP. Wondering, though, why she didn’t (though maybe she did,) besides informing the caller that there Is No More Pizza, come back with “But if your kids like pizza I’m sure they’ll like our spaghetti — how much would you like?” Some people can’t think outside the box in a crisis, and since the kids wanted pizza maybe caller was stuck on “kids want pizza. no pizza = no food.” especially if she was used to catering to the kids’ wants.
@MjayE ” which is not a tunnel to Hogwarts”…..thanks for the best laugh all day! 🙂
Being a hot, sweaty cranky mess with irritable children doesn’t mean the women on the phone was not acting entitled. The former does not excuse the latter. It’s the not the restaurant’s fault … and certainly not the OP’s.
About six years, my area had a bit of an .. unexpected … weather event in an unseasonable time of year. My street lost power for eight days, also during a really bad time for it. (For us, it was cold … not heat. Still, that long with heat in the house with a 2-year-old was not good.) I thanked my lucky stars every day for the people who were able to help us, not screamed at them because I couldn’t get pizza instead of pasta or wings. Oy.
Is anyone else intrigued as to why a manager would hand the phone back to the OP when it’s already proven that the woman on line is irate and irrational? The manager should have attended his managerial duties and finished the call with her himself (whether that meant taking an alternate order or terminating the call).
Having said that, OP, you sound like you handled the situation brilliantly.
We also lost power for a time last week. It was not much fun for anyone.
OP, did you let her know that the reason the restaurant ran out of pizza was because of the influx of customers due to the power outage? She should still be gracious, but she may have been more understanding if she’d realized it was due to the restaurant being swamped.
I’m just glad for a friend who had power when I didn’t, and who let me bring our deep freezer and everything in it to stay powered at her house.
I have always thought that everyone should be required to work at a restaurant for a year. That and retail. Maybe it would make some of them think twice before acting like they’re royalty.
This story and its comments are a great reminder that failing to act like a civilized human being solves nothing. For the lady who wanted pizza and screamed her way through three conversations before being “cut off at the pass”, the sad part is that she probably never realized the negative impact she had on those around her. She will probably continue to be a “special snowflake” endlessly in search of Never Never Land and its imagined perfections and victimizing all and sundry who fail to sprinkle pixie dust as needed on the frustrations she encounters.
@ Abbey. I live very close to Wytheville Va. I’m glad you have a good memory of the town.
MjayE, you are reminding me of when a 7-11 totally saved the day for us! My husband-to-be and I were staying over winter break in our dorm rooms. We were the only people living in that dorm for winter break. The idea was that we could easily work our campus jobs, which would give us some more money for our upcoming nuptials. We each had a mini-fridge, but the only cooking means we had was a coffee pot. So you can imagine our food supplies were pretty limited. Alas, the weather didn’t cooperate with our plans! We had a freakishly bad ice and snow storm, which left us stranded. First we had to climb out the window since the facilities guys had forgotten that two people were living in that big building. No biggie – once out the door, Mr. Elf is quite strong and could clear the snow enough to free the door. Then we went on a trek for food. The only place open within walking distance was a 7-11, and it remained that way for 4 days. And believed me, we looked! It didn’t matter what they had, we would have eaten it. That 7-11 totally saved the day.
This post made me feel so lucky!
In Ohio, over two hundred thousand AEP customers were without power. In our county, about half the population was without electricity for days. We are still experiencing temporary outages while the wonderful crews (local and from out of state) deal with downed lines, poles, toppled trees, and other problems.
Are we bitching at each other? NO! Neighbors are helping each other. People with electricity were taking in those without and/or keeping their food supplies cold. No one was hoarding ice. (A local business sold 100 bags of ice in under an hour. The next day, 400 bags were sold in less than 3 hours.) People are applauding the work crews. No one was battling for the few refrigerated supplies available at the grocery. (They’d also been without power and were required to throw some food out.) Definitely, no one is yelling at the businesses which have managed to provide us with hot meals. In fact, I’ve witnessed more patience and thankfulness than is common during lunch hour of an ordinary workday.
I love my hometown!
KHR and Magic Domino – those are called pie irons. They starred in every camp out we had growing up. My husband and I should buy some now that we have grandsons who would enjoy the experience. Thanks for reminding me!
“You advertise that everything is hand-made and fresh so how are you out of something?”
Because it is handmade and fresh! Pizza dough is made with yeast. It has to rise. Even if they had the ingredients, it would be several hours before they could have the crust ready to go! The caller clearly doesn’t cook from scratch herself. Good on OP for staying so calm during the call.
@ Goodness, I’d suspect this woman wasn’t advised about the spaghetti (or other things on the menu) because she wasn’t rational enough to hear it. OP began trying to offer alternatives several times and just got shouted down. There was no reasoning with this caller, for whatever reason. I’m glad the OP had the polite spine in place and that it was backed by her manager. Too many times in customer service, managers will cave to the screaming meanies.
I hate seeing that as a customer and when I was an employee. It just validates their rotten behavior, and what about the person who tried the same thing (i.e. returning something for cash without a receipt, using an expired coupon) and was polite? We followed store policy for that person, and a polite customer walked away dissatisfied, but the nutjobs who rant and rave about how they’re NEVER COMING HERE AGAIN get their way? So unfair.
For the record: We didn’t have power for 17 days after Hurricane Ike and we cooked everything on the backyard charcoal grill. Everything. That includes rice, noodles, and soup in pots. We also ate whatever we could find in the pantry, whether it went together or not. Hey, we had running water and our house was unscathed: We were in much better shape than a lot of south Texas.
“You advertise that everything is hand-made and fresh so how are you out of something?”
Because we don’t grow and grind the wheat in windowboxes, and you wouldn’t want to wait that long if we did. Sheesh, lady: If your kids want pizza, put some ketchup and cheese on Saltines and tell them it will have to do.
Disasters bring out extremes in people, mostly extreme good points but the extreme rudeness can be shocking to say the least- I am continuously surprised by the people who vent their earthquake stresses out on me (in christchurch NZ). We had a series of big quakes last Christmas and once the mall was assessed as safe my workmates and I went back to our kitchenwares shop, which was very close to the epicentre, to try to clean it up. It was flooded from the sprinkler system breaking in the ceiling, the floors were covered in smashed merchandise and we had no electricity, we put a sign on our closed door saying “we have no electricity and are unable to open today, please go to X location across town where our store is operating”. Eventually the lights came on and people started looking through the window and shouting “why aren’t you open! you have power now!” Though it was obvious there was no way we could open the store due to damage. When I explained this a lady said “Well what am I supposed to do, it’s Christmas and I have no unbroken plates at home, there’s been an earthquake you know!”
I politely replied “Yes, I am well aware there has been an earthquake, I am aware that it is Christmas time, and I’m not particularly happy to be spending my Christmas eve covered in wet rusty water, plaster dust and cocktail mixers mixed with broken glass. I hope you have a happy Christmas day, and I doubt that anybody in this city is going to be having the perfect Christmas lunch the way they always do.”
I remember Hurricane Ike too. We were lucky. We banded together to grill and swapped food and supplies. I remember calling a neighbor who left town …asking…if she had gas in her storage shed. She did…we traded…hubs cut up a tree she lost and we used the gas.
that’s how it should be. I would have killed for a cup of coffee…luckily my son’s old cub scout leader lived in my neighborhood…I quickly suggested we check on her and her family. Again…we cleared a yard and had some hot “cowboy” coffee. Still the best I’ve ever had in a pinch!
That’s just what you do…
we cleared many neighbors front yards without being asked or even telling them. We just did it. It needed done. That’s what friends and neighbors do!