There are two types of Dunkin’ Donuts establishments: those with employees who know what they are doing, and those with employees whose training consisted of “the milk goes in the refrigerator, and the money goes in the cash register – not vice versa.” There is no in between. There is no such thing as a “kind of good” Dunkin’ Donuts. You either get great service, or you’re walking out of there carrying a chocolate-frosted donut topped with cream cheese and a lukewarm cup of coffee with a lid that’s partially on.
I consider myself lucky because the Dunkin’ Donuts I go to every morning before work (Route 35 in Middletown, NJ) is one of the great ones. You can judge any good Dunkin’ Donuts establishment by how fast the morning line moves, and this one is a quick assembly line of great service. All the workers there are friendly, they know the regulars, and most of the time you don’t even have to tell them what you want – it’s waiting for you by the time you reach the counter. I’ve also noticed that, for the most part, the longer a particular D&D has been around, the better it is. To use a sports analogy involving baseball players named “B.J.,” you can always count on a B.J. Surhoff-type of D&D to come through when it matters, but if you risk going to a B.J Upton-type of D&D, a “home run” may be simply getting what you ordered, while “grounding into a double play” may end in you suffering a heart attack because they didn’t hear you say “decaf.”
I bring this up only because I have noticed an increasing amount of the Dunkin’ Donuts/Baskin Robbins establishments popping up throughout the Tri-State area. In fact, one sprung up by our house just about a year ago (Route 9 in Marlboro, NJ) – and let me tell you, it is THE worst Dunkin’ Donuts establishment in the history of the world. I dare anyone to find one that is worse.
First of all, I don’t know who came up with the idea to combine Dunkin’ Donuts with Baskin Robbins. I don’t know what was wrong with these two places existing as separate entities. It doesn’t even make any sense to me. But whatever. Anyway, the D&D by our house is sooooo bad, that I have felt compelled to call the Dunkin Donuts 800-number to report the travesties that have occurred there. Actually, I have had the phone out before, ready to dial, but my wife intervened because she didn’t want anyone to get fired.
And by “anyone” I mean...
There is a man who is always there working at this D&D. I would normally be left to assume that he is the manager, except that his only managerial skills involve standing up straight. For one thing, he has the personality of a cardboard box – a cardboard box that wants to kill you because you had the audacity to come into Dunkin Donuts and request one of their edible products. He speaks limited English, and he understands limited English. And he uses the small amount of English that he does know to give out misinformation. For example, a few months ago I went there with my wife and sister, and my sister asked him if they offered decaf iced coffee (she cannot have caffeine for health reasons), to which he replied, “Yes. It is all decaf.” She did not understand this reply. He went on to explain in mumbled jargon that all of their coffee was decaffeinated. In fact, everything in the store was decaf, including the muffins. Apparently, we were not at a Dunkin Donuts that offered decaf coffee – we were actually at the first Decaf Dunkin Donuts. Also, my sister ordered the iced coffee and couldn’t finish it because it wasn’t decaf.
I went to this Dunkin Donuts again last night to pick up some coffee for my wife and I, and lo and behold – this guy was behind the counter. My wife wanted a pumpkin spice donut, but I noticed that they didn’t have any left. Now, I knew the risk I was taking by asking this guy a question, but I figured “what the heck?” So I asked him if they had any more pumpkin spice donuts coming out. His response was to look behind him at the donut wall, and then turn back to me and nod his head “no.” Apparently, this particular Dunkin Donuts does not have a back room where donuts are made. Instead, when the tray is empty, a new batch magically appears at some point. So, this guy was nice enough to inform me, in head nod form, that the new batch of pumpkin spice donuts had NOT, in fact, magically appeared as of yet. So I had to order my wife a chocolate donut instead, which was coincidentally – and I’m not kidding – the “manager’s special” that day.
I also realized last night that I must be mistaken in my confusion with regards to the combination of D&D and Baskin Robbins, because I was, in fact, feeling like some ice cream. When I informed this guy that I would also like some ice cream, his response was to start walking over to the Baskin Robbins counter, as if to say, “Follow me, and carry your coffees and donut over here too because I’m not your bitch.” Of course, Baskin Robbins had to be witty when they named their ice cream flavors, so it wasn’t awkward at all when I had to inform a guy who speaks limited English that I would like two scoops of the “Honest to Good Nuts” ice cream. Again, his response was to stare at me while holding an ice cream scooper, as if he wanted to scoop my heart right out of my chest, toss it on the floor, and stomp on it repeatedly. So, I had to point to the ice cream instead.
Then it was time for him to ring me up. I was thanking my lucky stars that I didn’t have a coupon with me, because the last time my wife and I tried to give this guy a coupon, it ended up with every worker in the store examining it as if it were written in Aramaic, and trying to think of any possible excuse to tell us why they couldn’t accept it. I think the cash resister started smoking when they tried to input it, and I know I ended up paying more than I would have if I didn’t have a coupon in the first place. Anyway, the guy started ringing me up. He did not put my ice cream cup in a bag, or give me a spoon and napkins, nor did he put my coffees in a tray. The only thing bagged up was the donut, and I wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised if he had just sat that on the counter as well.
Another great thing about this guy is that you actually have to ask him for your change back. I don’t know if he doesn’t comprehend the process of giving back change, or if he just assumes that the rest is his, but after you pay him, he just kind of gives you a look like, “This transaction has been completed. Please leave the store.” So, I had to hold out my hand like a panhandler until this guy reluctantly gave me my change back. My money did not go in the tip jar, and I must say, if glass had feelings, then that tip jar was embarrassed to be there.
You may wonder if my wife and I are gluttons for punishment, since we continue to go back to this D&D for an occasional evening coffee fix. But if this place serves any purpose whatsoever, it makes us appreciate the good Dunkin Donuts stores in the area, like the one I go to every morning. And to be honest, the D&D by our house is so freakin’ bad, that it’s actually funny. I mean, I can’t begin to describe how hilarious it is when we pull up through the drive-thru only to see that guy’s head pop out of the window. It’s like, we know we’re not getting what we ordered, but we have to laugh.
By the way, this Dunkin Donuts also has a tip jar at the drive-thru window, just in case you just blindly received the best service of your life, even though you’re not yet sure if what you ordered is correct.
The nerve. A tip jar at the drive-thru window.
Honest to good nuts.