Part of what I like about being a mystery shopper is that I never know where I’m going to end up. I’ve been to all kinds of hotels, good and bad, and all kinds of restaurants. I've eaten foods that I normally would not have tried. I’ve mystery shopped retail stores that I may have never visited otherwise. I’ve shopped for new cars and apartments even when I really wasn’t looking. Today was no different, and boy, did I find us an adventure.
The Mr. and I have been in Atlanta for the last few days. We’ve been attending the IMSC (Independent Mystery Shoppers Coalition) conference to learn how to be better mystery shoppers. It was fun, and we had a good time. For the whole trip, I had requested hotel and restaurant mystery shops. In three days, we have paid for one lunch out of pocket so far. The rest of the meals were covered through mystery shops. We have not paid for a single hotel. That’s how we roll.
We were going to have to buy lunch today, but one of the companies that I shop for had some lunch visits available. There were a few restaurants to choose from, so we quickly glanced at the websites to see which one looked best. We wanted something fun and casual, and I thought I had found just the place. Mr. Everything was going to have to take the assignment and write the report because I had already exceeded my maximum number of assignments from the company for the month. So we self-assigned the shop to him, and we were on our way.
When we arrived, the first clue for me was that the hostess had on a rainbow necklace, and the host was immaculately groomed. Mr. E didn’t notice. The next indicator was the picture of the rainbow flag on the menu. Still, the Mr. was totally oblivious. I had already summed the place up and realized that there were only a few women in the restaurant and the ones that were there were together. I decided just to wait it out to see how long it would take Mr. Everything to notice.
While I am not a supporter of stereotypes, there are some that just seem to be true. Think up every stereotype you have been told about gay men. That would describe our server. As he greeted us, I was considering whether “flamboyant” would be an appropriate descriptor on a mystery shopping report. The server looked at us with that all knowing, “I know that you didn’t know,” kind of look. Still, the Mr. was unsuspecting. Come to think of it, we may need to have his gay-dar looked at.
Finally, as Mr. Everything was reading the menu and he was seeing some of the names of dishes, reality began to set in. I must admit, as cruel as it was, I just sat back and enjoyed watching him realize it.
Again, I’m not judging, really, but seeing my very heterosexual husband realize that he was in a gay bar was just too much fun. As he looked around and noticed all the well groomed men with fabulous hair cuts, he turned pink. He looked at me, and I looked at him. That was when I started laughing and could not stop. Mr. E looked at me and in all seriousness, said, “What’s worse is I have to go to the bathroom!” I just laughed harder.
Mr. Everything decided to be brave and go inside the packed restaurant to go to the restroom. It wasn’t like anyone was going to attack him or anything. I’m pretty sure the men there could take one look at him and know he was straight. He walked quickly to the restroom, and I noticed that he did not make eye contact with anyone as he went. He fell just short of holding his left hand up to show his wedding ring to anyone who was looking.
Mr. E was not in there long when he came back, almost running. He was flushed and winded. “How did it go?” I asked. I’m so cruel. He looked and me and just shook his head and closed his eyes. Finally, he worked up the energy to speak and said, “There. Was. A. Used. Blue. Condom. In. The. Urinal.” As you can imagine, I showed him great sympathy. My poor dear must have been traumatized. Yeah, right. You know I laughed. I asked him if the rest of the restroom was clean. He said he tried not to look around. More laughter.
Bless his heart. It takes a lot to make Mr. E uncomfortable. I’m usually the one who feels out of place or like I shouldn’t be somewhere. A gay bar was enough to do it for him, though. I’ve never seen him so awkward in all my life.
Now that we have left the location, he can laugh about it a little more. He just told me that it really just goes to prove that we will do anything for a free meal!
What’s great is that, on the report, he was asked whether or not he would return. Now, as a professional mystery shopper, he must answer this question based on the overall service, food and cleanliness and not on his personal preferences. So for, “Would you return to this location?” his answer was, “Definitely.” “Would you recommend this location to your friends?” “Absolutely.” Oh, yeah. I can’t wait to hear him recommend it to his friends. –Al