“Is that okay?”

These are true stories – and sometimes truth is harder to believe than fiction.  And if you hear someone saying to you, “Is that okay?” when they take your order or monitor your purchases, be prepared to scratch your head in disbelief.

Case study #1.

I was at Home Depot last Saturday morning, purchasing some materials for an afternoon landscaping project.  One of the items I purchased was a plastic garden rail, along with some metal spikes to anchor it to the ground.  These plastic rails surround a garden, and then after you add mulch to the garden, the finished project looks amazing.

Now it’s morning, so Home Depot had about five cashiers standing at attention, waiting for me to pay for my purchases.  I stopped at station #5, and the cashier scanned the UPC codes on my items.  I walked over to the pay kiosk and ran my credit card through the slot.

I had one eye fixed on the prices – yep, everything seems okay –

“Sir,” the cashier said, “I need to check proof of your age, is that okay?”


“The machine says I need to check your age before I can sell you these metal spike anchors.”

Um… why?

“The register says I have to check.  Is that okay?”

I dutifully opened my wallet and showed the cashier my driver’s license.

“I don’t know why it’s asking me for that information,” she said, punching a button on her terminal and continuing to enter my purchases.  “You look like you’re old enough to know how to use those anchors.”

Great.  My soon-to-be-52-year-old-self thanks you for the backhanded compliment.

Case study #2.

Last Friday, I set up a dinner date at a local 99 Restaurant.  Knowing that the 99 gets busy around dinner time, I called ahead.

“Hi, can I make a reservation for 6:00 tonight?”

“Oh, sir, we don’t take reservations here at the 99.  But we do offer call-ahead service, is that okay?”

“Okay… what’s the difference?”

“You call ahead and we put your name on the list, so that we have your table ready when you arrive.”

And this is different from a reservation how… oh well.  Maybe it’s some sort of branding thing with this eatery.  No matter.  “Okay, I’ll call ahead for 6:00 p.m. for two for tonight.”

“And under what name will this reservation be, sir?”

“Miller – hey, did you just call it a ‘reservation?'”

“Oops, yes I did.  It’s a call-ahead service.  So I have your reservation – er – um – call-ahead service for 6:00 p.m. ”

Okay, that was kinda funny… but I reserve the right to reserve judgment on this.  Or maybe I should call-ahead the right to call-ahead judgment on this.

Case study #3.

Yesterday, on my way home from an event, I stopped into my local Taco Bell.  Now I’ve had this happen before at Taco Bell, heck I’ve even commented on Facebook about it happening.  But I figured that it wouldn’t happen again.  That maybe I misspoke and the Taco Bell employee misheard me.

I drove up to the car speaker.

“Welcome to Taco Bell, what would you like to eat today?”

I ordered a couple of tacos and some of their other Frankenfood melanges.  “And I’d like a large diet soda please.”

“We don’t have diet soda, but we have Diet Pepsi, is that okay?”

I’ve learned over the years that most eateries are licensed to sell either Coca-Cola or Pepsi products, and asking for a Diet Coke or a Diet Pepsi can cause this little pas de deux – even though both beverages are remarkably similar in taste.  So I usually just say, “I’ll have a diet,” and the server or cashier will automatically understand what I’m saying.

Apparently this Taco Bell employee didn’t.  And this happened before; I just didn’t think it would happen again.

“Fine, Diet Pepsi,” I said to the car speaker.   Hoo boy…

So I’m just going to say, if you’ve ever been in a situation where your server or your cashier or your contractor quotes some sort of variable to you and says, “Is that okay?”

If they do that, just understand that they’re trying to do their job – and maybe they’re overwhelmed or understaffed and they’ve been repeating the same orders back and forth on the little speakers for hours.

So what’s your funniest retail “Is that okay?” story?


3 thoughts on ““Is that okay?””

  1. Chuck, I do not think I have had such varied experiences as you, but I will offer this one. Years ago, in 2003, when I was working in a new-to-our-company neighborhood in Manhattan, a coworker and I went to lunch at a sit down restaurant. The waiter came over to take our order, so I began with asking for a cheeseburger, done medium rare. He then glanced at my friend, who ordered the roast chicken. “How would you like yours done, sir?” Looking at me with confusion, and back a the VERY serious about it waiter, my fried cleared his throat and said once more, “I’ll have the roast chicken.” And without missing a beat, the waiter, a young man, asked, “How would like that done?” Bob (friend) now looking incensed says, “It is chicken!” The waiter replies, “Yes, I know – but how would you like it done?” To which Bob says, “COOKED!” The waiter – who did not seem new at his job – sensing that something was wrong, wrote that down and walked away.

    Both meals were prepared to perfection, thank goodness.


  2. So after 17 years of service industry experience, I find myself using the “is that okay” line more than ever. And it’s because everyone is on their phones! Yesterday for example I was ringing out a lady who was trying to buy a gift card. She approached the register, scrolling down her phone. She asked for a gift card for an amount. I’m so glad I double checked because she changed her mind so many times while on her phone. One time she misspoke.


  3. I think it’s pretty stupid to ask if it’s OK if there isn’t a recourse if the answer is “No, it’s not ok”

    I used to work retail until recently and you would never catch me saying something like that.


Comments are closed.