On the way home from work last night, I stopped at a frozen custard place to get something for the three of us to have for dessert.

I ordered various kinds of concretes, all with chocolate custard. When they were handed to me, however, it was clear that they had been made with vanilla custard. I told the guy behind the counter that I’d asked for chocolate, and he replied, “Oh, the chocolate custard is too hard to serve right now.”

He said it with a tone which indicated this made perfect sense to him — rather than telling the customer that you can’t fill his order properly, you simply substitute something else and keep quiet about it.

I pointed out that this wasn’t what I ordered, and he looked at me as if I were speaking Norwegian. Seeing that this mental giant didn’t have the brain power to realize we had a problem, I suggested that he either forget the order and give me my money back, or take four steps backwards to the chocolate syrup container, squirt some of that in our cups, mix it all up again, and then give it to me. I could actually see the 10-watt lightbulb go on inside his head, and a couple of minutes later I left with a product that was at least close to what I had asked for.

I was reminded of a time in college when I went into a Burger King and ordered a Whopper. The clerk asked me what I’d like to drink, and I asked, “Do you have root beer?” She replied, “No, but we do have Diet Sprite.” As if that would naturally be the second choice of someone who wanted a root beer.

I felt yesterday the same way I felt then — that I was stuck in some sort of Consolation Prize hell.