Thursday, November 26, 2015

No pie for you!

We each have our own annual holiday traditions, and the day before Thanksgiving is the day that I make a trip to Best Pie Company in Bowie to pick-up dessert for the yearly feast.  The experience is bitter- sweet.  Pick-up time is stressful, but I do walk away with some really amazing pies.  At a cost of between $23 and $30 per pie, they damn well better be amazing!

Best Pie Company is owned by Sherman and Patricia McCoy – an elderly husband-and-wife team.
Sherman is the face of the business, and some people privately refer to him as “The Pie Nazi” – a reference to The Soup Nazi character from the NBC sitcom Seinfeld.  Sherman likes things a certain way, and it’s advantageous for customers to know “the rules.”  Cash is preferred, debit cards are acceptable, but avoid the credit cards. Want a Thanksgiving pie?  Order it at least a week in advance.  Do you want your pie to be there when you pick it up?  Get there by the designated time, or your pie may be sold to someone else.  If you didn’t reserve a Thanksgiving pie, don’t ask if there are any pies available until after 5:30pm the night before.  I’ve followed these rules in the past, and I’ve taken home incredible Apple, Pumpkin, Sweet Potato and Chocolate Cream pies.  Even if you follow the rules, be prepared for something unexpected to happen.

I was hoping that yesterday’s trip to Best Pie would be quick and uneventful, but it was not to be.  It took an hour for me to get my pies, but my transaction was otherwise uneventful.  I can’t say the same for some of the other people in line. The Sweet Potato pies weren’t ready, and some people were asked to come back later.

The first rule breaker of the day was a sweet, petite, elderly woman who thought that she might be able to charm her way to a pie.  She stayed in line for more than thirty minutes even though Sherman announced multiple times that people without reservations should come back after 5:30. As she approached the front of the line, Sherman said, “name?”  I felt my blood pressure rise as she said in the sweetest voice, “You know, I don’t have a reservation, but I noticed that you have some beautiful pies in this display case.”

Sherman:  “You don’t have a reservation?”

Lady: “No, but…”

Sherman: “Let me tell you how this works.  This is just like an airplane reservation. Everyone behind you in line has a ticket to get on the plane.  You’re telling me that you see an empty seat, but one of these other people is going to sit there.”

Lady: “But I thought maybe you might be willing to sell me one of those wonderful pies in your display case.”

Sherman: “You can come back at 5:30.”

Lady: “Thank you so much!  I’ll come back.

I turned to the guy in line in front of me, and I asked, “How’s your blood pressure?”  He said, “I took a pill before I came here,” and a few of us in line had a good laugh.
It wasn’t long before the next incident occurred. Sherman couldn’t find an elderly woman’s reservation for a Chocolate Cream pie.

Sherman:  “I can’t find your reservation. I can’t give you a pie.”

Lady 2:  “You’re not going to give me a pie?”

Sherman:  “Mistakes happen.  Things get misfiled.  I make mistakes.”

Lady 2:  “But I spoke to you two weeks ago.  You’re not going to give me a Chocolate Cream pie that reserved two weeks ago?  I spoke to you.  You took my order.”

Sherman:  “You’re holding up the line.”

Lady 2 (starting to leave):  “You know what you are?  You know The Soup Nazi?  You are The Pie Nazi!  That’s what you are!”

“Yeah, that just happened,” I thought to myself.  She said it.  I’ve heard people use the term “Pie Nazi” in private conversation, but this was the first time I’ve heard someone call Sherman “Pie Nazi” to his face.

Sherman: “Can you come back in the morning.  I’ll make you a pie.”

Lady 2:  “I can’t!  I’m supposed to be in Hagerstown!”

Sherman: “Did you say Hagerstown?  Now I remember the conversation.  Let me get you a pie.”

The conversation instantly turned pleasant, the woman paid for her pie.  Before she left, Sherman said, “Do you still think I’m a Nazi?”

It wasn’t long before the guy in front of me made it to the counter.

Sherman:  “Name?”

Man:  “Lewis.”

Sherman (after searching through the reservations):  “Lewis?”

Man:  “Yes.  Lewis.”

Sherman (after searching through the reservations again):  “I don’t have a reservation for Lewis.”

Man:  “Lewis Brown.  You don’t have a reservation for Lewis Brown?”

Sherman: “Lewis is your first name?  Why are you giving me your first name? I don’t care about your first name!  I don’t have a reservation for Lewis, but I do have one for Brown!”

The man breathed a sigh of relief, and a few of us in line laughed.

A few minutes later, I was walking out of Best Pie unscathed with my Pumpkin and Lemon Chess pies in hand and a few stories to share.

4 comments:

  1. I have no doubt every word is true... however, just 2 observations. The first is that the pies are truly fantastic. Compare them to any store bought pie.. also you can have them add things like nuts, chocolate etc. to have it even better. Can you be satisfied with a non bakery pie? Sure, just like some people are happy with what Papa John makes which they have the nerve to call pizza. The second is about the change in how America shops. There used to be a lot of Mom & Pop stores all over.. now its just one chain after another. How many family restaurants do we have in Bowie? Sherman McCoy is an American original & if you go to Best Pie you may get a few great stories like yours, but you will walk away with a great pie. (By the way, after waiting a half hour my ticket was missing & my wife had to go back at 5:30.. but that is another story.)

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  2. Paul, I agree with you 100%. I hope that people understand the I continue to shop there, and some of the dialogue was said in jest on Sherman's part - including the discussion about first and last names.

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  3. I prefer good customer service when I give my money to someone. I don't care how good your pies are. My experiences there were not good, thus why I have not returned and would never refer anyone to this place. Good customer service goes a long way!!!

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  4. I prefer good customer service when I give my money to someone. I don't care how good your pies are. My experiences there were not good, thus why I have not returned and would never refer anyone to this place. Good customer service goes a long way!!!

    ReplyDelete