Consider the case of Ben Edelman, a professor at Harvard Business School, and a man robust in ego, his life garlanded with privilege. What he lacks is grace, and common decency. Look:
Last week, Edelman ordered what he thought was $53.35 worth of Chinese food from Sichuan Garden’s Brookline Village location.
Edelman soon came to the horrifying realization that he had been overcharged. By a total of $4.
If you’ve ever wondered what happens when a Harvard Business School professor thinks a family-run Chinese restaurant screwed him out of $4, you’re about to find out.
(Hint: It involves invocation of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Statute and multiple threats of legal action.)
You have to read the whole thing, to see copies of the e-mails Edelman sent to the restaurant, and the patience and, well, grace with which employee Ran Duan replied to this tool. Seriously, read the exchange; it will put you in touch with your inner Arthur Scargill. More from the story:
[Edelman] graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College. He has a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University, and a law degree from Harvard Law School.
Ran Duan moved to the U.S. from China when he was 3-years-old. His father had hoped to support the family with a career as an opera singer, but when that didn’t pan out, Duan says “like all Chinese families we decided to open up a restaurant.”
“I personally respond to every complaint and try to handle every situation personally,” said Duan, who was profiled by Boston Magazine in June and featured in GQ Magazine last month as “America’s Most Imaginative Bartender.”
The exchange with Edelman stood out to Duan. “I have worked so hard to make my family proud and to elevate our business. It just broke my heart.”
Consider Ran Duan, a good American. I wish I lived in the Boston area so I could buy something from his restaurant.
Consider Ben Edelman, whose punishment is being Ben Edelman.
UPDATE: Ben Edelman has apologized:
Many people have seen my emails with Ran Duan of Sichuan Garden restaurant in Brookline.
Having reflected on my interaction with Ran, including what I said and how I said it, it’s clear that I was very much out of line. I aspire to act with great respect and humility in dealing with others, no matter what the situation. Clearly I failed to do so. I am sorry, and I intend to do better in the future.
I have reached out to Ran and will apologize to him personally as well.
Good on him. Case closed.