I very rarely eat fast food. Questionable animal parts in a grease soaked bag is not my idea of tasty. I have an occasional breakfast from a cheap eats establishment before an early morning flight, or pick up a burger and frosty for my daughter after she badgers me for three weeks and I can use it to bribe her into doing a chore without complaining, but those events are few and far between. I can count on my hands the number of times I have ordered food through a little speaker and was able to pay for a meal for three with a twenty dollar bill.
I didn’t always have an aversion to fast food. As a matter of fact, as a child I thought “flay-o” was a kind of fish after getting filet-o-fish sandwiches with my Dad repeatedly. I grew up in the time when sitting down for a meal at a brightly colored plastic table with attached chairs was family fun, not a visitation at an upstate penitentiary. The e coli infested ball pits were not yet a thing. When I was a teenager I became vegetarian and then vegan. I quit fast food when most kids were just really getting started. I have always gone a little against the grain.
My husband was a serious fast food junkie when we met. He awoke in the morning smelling like french fries the same way frat boys awake on Sunday mornings smelling of beer and bad judgement. Neither one of us cooked well and he was not a big salad fan so he was left with few options. We eventually put on our big kid pants and learned how to cook the year I planted a garden and had a kitchen full of baskets overflowing with vegetables. When you are faced with not being able to get out of your house without chasing tomatoes rolling across your kitchen floor, you figure out a way to put them to use. My better half soon went from his old peanut oil scent in the morning to asparagus pee in the evening. I’m not sure I did him any favors.
We were pretty adamant about not poisoning our child with pink slime. We avoided chain restaurants in general and treated anything with a drive through like a brothel, someplace no child should enter. I will admit we were a little over the top, but our fears were realized when my parents started feeding our five year old meals that come with a little plastic toy destined to become landfill within a week. We had opened the door a week prior by making a run for the border. It happens.
Friday night was the rare exception to our general avoidance of food that comes in a bag. I had quite a few errands to run and being that it was Friday in the middle of lent, our options for a quick meal were limited. I gave my family a few choices and they told me to drive through the golden arches. That is the last time I am listening to those fools.
Since it has been at least a decade since I have had to place an order through a speaker, I knew what we were getting before I approached the entrance. It was a good thing too. I was so confused by the presence of two drive through lanes that I almost turned around and left. I took the far lane which proved to be a wise choice after I watched a car pull through the inner lane and pull up to the window without placing an order. While turning the corner she took the curb with her back wheel. I ordered my three “flay-os” and fries by yelling my order into the little speaker a foot away from my window. I must not have yelled loudly enough because the cashier replied “what?” several times before asking “is that all?” It was like having a conversation with a cranky old man with his hearing aid turned down.
After completing my order I pulled up to the first window with my money ready. A teenage girl reached her hand out and took my money without a word. She then handed me a receipt and my $.08 change with a dripping wet hand and closed the window in silence. At first I thought maybe it was the restaurant’s policy to not be chatty with the customers. That was until I pulled up behind the car that had taken the curb a few minutes earlier. She had been sitting at the window talking to one of the workers for the entirety of my ordering process. The worker stuck his head out the window repeatedly looking back at me while they continued their conversation. My fast food was starting to take the time of a seven course tasting menu with the chef. The woman in the car started to pull away at least three times and stopped abruptly to say one last thing. When she finally pulled away I drove up to the window to find two bags sitting inside and nobody to deliver them out the window. The man who had been there was walking to the door on the other side of the restaurant where his lady friend had pulled around and parked. Another teenage girl finally ran up to the window and handed me my bags saying “have a nice night” with a smile. Finally – the service with a smile I was expecting based on all of the commercials I see on the Disney channel.
As I drove home I reached into the bag to eat half of everyone’s french fries. This is the price they pay me for picking up the food. I learned this from my husband. He calls it a delivery tax. It mostly applies to Starbucks and sweets, but my understanding is I can apply it to anything. After eating a handful of fries I dug around for a napkin only to find none. Now I understood why the cashier’s hand was dripping wet. This fast food hell-hole was apparently napkin-free. I guess they have to cover the cost of their ultra friendly labor force somehow. I continued munching on fries for my entire drive home all while wondering how it’s possible that the people who just gave me such sub-par service are the same ones demanding a raise. I can’t complain though. It is true everywhere, you get what you pay for.