Is it possible to get ‘gracious’ service at Toronto’s airport? Ask Ronniea

Published by on

I am at the airport, flying domestic, in the time of the morning that is no longer breakfast but not quite lunch. I need to find something light to eat but I don't care what they call it, just in the need of not-vendor food. I stop at a simple bright cafe and take a seat at the bar. The hostess approaches me with menus in hand which she does not offer, holds on to them rather tightly actually, and says quite perfunctorily “We don’t have breakfast anymore”. No greeting, no openness, no anything, just that. My reply is simple; Oh, I don't care’. Her reply is only one word: ‘What?’ sans smile. I explain that its ok whatever they are offering should be fine. “We don't have any food service for another ten minutes.” again sans smile. sans care. How dare I take a seat at an open establishment in the middle of the open terminal at open business hours where others are clearly dining. Silly me.

I can see this is not likely to go well, and I would rather spend those ten minutes out on the tarmac sucking jet fuel looking for scraps that may have fallen out of the plane than wait for Miss ThinLips, it would be less torture. So, I excuse myself and go in search of something else. Coffee served in a ceramic cup for starters. I wander past the place from a previous blog, the one with the ‘star’ chef’s name overhead and the experience nothing ‘star’ about it. Nope. Wandering further past the racks and racks of takeout stands, I come to a new sit-down I haven't seen before. Something tells me it is different, on the good side. But then, it IS new.

As I look around I see a few people eating what looks like simple early food, and I take a seat at a table. To my lucky day, I am greeted right away with a nice (honest) smile by a young man who doesn’t automatically do the traditional shuffle: The “Just one?” while briskly clearing the whole table, without looking up, no eye contact made, not waiting for an answer first…” that I usually get. You know the drill. I call this The Tearing Down Before It’s Begun. No, this man wants to know, kindly, what he can do for me. Perfect. I relax, and I take note of the others doing the same.

I look at the menu, lunch fare, its nice, I like it, but perhaps my fellow passengers may not like such an early arrival of these exotic flavours, nor my taste buds. Although it is tempting. This establishment is home to Toronto celebrity chef Roger Mooking. I used to catch some of his early work on network. It was cool enough to stay with the whole show. And he really was fun to watch. This was back when the food channel was actually ‘informative’ and ‘interesting’ not ‘entertainment fraught with fake drama with no regard for the viewer themselves’. But, let’s get back to the airport…..

My waiter brings me a nice cup of coffee in a nice mug, and I ask if it’s possible to just get an order of nice toast and some nice scrambled eggs. With an even nicer smile he replies “Yeah, I can do that for you.” and disappears into the kitchen.

Where are we Toto? I wonder. The coffee is very good, the tempo is fast without feeling pushed, and soon I have my meal placed in front of me. It seems that my waiter, whose name I find out is Ronniea, has not only produced the eggs and toast but the kitchen has made it a lovely plate, adding a fresh cut tomato salsa and a perfect little bowl of fruit, blueberries orange grapes banana….wow. And with plenty of time to enjoy it before I have to rush off.

I wonder what’s happening over at the other station, is anyone actually smiling? Because, you see, thats the reality of it. As you have heard me say many times before, air travel is stressful enough with schedules and dealing with traffic to get there on time, your partner asking for the hundredth time even though they know the answer to “Is there room in your bag for this?” and praying its not oversold again. Or delayed. Arriving at the door of the aircraft in some semblance of relaxation is a great thing. Something I prefer to be honest. Ronnie has ensured I will.

I ask him to marry me, he politely declines. But we do bond over a great conversation about his service. Listen up everyone, we have a choice where and how we spend our hard earned dollars, and it is in exercising that right that statements are made, most particularly with Customer Service. Just because its ‘there’ doesn’t mean you have to be ‘there’ and just because it’s ‘always been’ doesn’t mean it has to ‘always be’. Do us all a favour and never accept being treated less than you deserve. You are paying for them to take care of you, why would you pay for them not to? Thank you Roger Mooking for caring. It was obvious. I shall return, please don't change