Often times I feel cheated by fast food chains. I know that I accept the responsibility of getting possible bad service and semi-decent food at most fast food chains. Lets face it – there aren’t people with Doctorates floating around the local Taco Bell and McD’s. Most general employees of fast food places are either really young, really old, using it as a second (or third) job to supplement their families income or live in a demographical area that is typically lower income.
Now before I get tons of hate comments – let me be clear. I am in no way undermining a job at a fast food position. When I was a teenager I worked at Long John Silver’s (I still cannot stand the smell of that red cocktail sauce – ugh!). Many of my friends worked at the fast food joints all over town. As we got older several of my friends had to take on an extra job and went back to fast food because it was easy to get hired and usually had semi flexible schedules. A few of my friends actually became managers of a couple of the local joints. Not to mention my Big Kid is 14 1/2 and will be looking for employment very soon and may wind up with a fast food position (Keeping fingers crossed for Chick-fil-a because they have the best lemonade EVER!). I do love me some fast food.
However, because jobs at fast food chains are typically very easy to get – the quality of employee isn’t always superb. I once drove up to a McD’s and ordered a Happy Meal for my Little Man and two Big Mac meals with sweet tea for the Mini Me and Big Kid. I’m not a huge fan of McD’s (although I do LOVE their soft serve icecream with a side of hot french fries!!) so I didn’t get anything for me. I might have ordered a little something but the tone of voice and demeanor in which I was being spoken too was irritating. After ordering each item, the young guy on the other end of the brightly lit box (full of pictures of food that doesn’t come close to resembling what actually comes out at the end of the line) says, “Is that all?” and I would politely say, “No, I also need…”. When I asked him to repeat the order please, I could literally hear him let out a big sigh and repeat it with a voice that told me that his mother is making him work this job but he would much rather be home with his PS3. I drove up to the window and handed him my card with a smile. As he snapped it out of my hand I took a deep breath and counted to 10. I was either going to crawl out of my car window and punch him in his little teen-aged face (I’m a redhead – I have a short fuse – don’t judge me) or I was going to try and make his day better. So I say with a smile, “Bad day or do you just hate your job?”. He took a double take my way, started to say something and obviously thought better of it. Handed me my receipt and bent down with both arms on the window and let it all out. “It’s my second week here, my second day on the window and they just keep telling me I need to go faster! What do they want from me?! I can only do what I can do. I can’t go any faster. If they want the orders right and the customer happy then I have to go the pace that is comfortable for me. Ugh! It just makes me so mad!”. I smiled and I said, “Don’t worry, it gets easier as time passes. But taking it out on the customers won’t make you feel better. Just ignore them and take pride in knowing you are sending the customers home with the right food. I promise you that would make me happy. And if they continue, there are a hundred other places to work – you don’t have to work here.” He smiled and said thanks and I pulled up to pick up my food feeling very happy that I didn’t punch the poor kid in the face. (For the record, I can’t remember the last time I punched anything, let alone a person.)
We go to Rosa’s Cafe almost every Tuesday night for Taco Tuesday. You get 3 tacos (soft or crispy and your choice of beef or chicken), rice (that is “oh so yummy”) and refried beans all for under $4!! When you are feeding a family of 5 that is nice!! :). It is a good thing their food is so tasty – otherwise I wouldn’t bother going. The price is so great that they get CaaaRAZY busy on Tuesdays, as you would imagine. I have to pull into the parking lot and go through my order every week to see what they forgot. They ALWAYS forget something. It is because there are too many hands in the bags and no one to do quality control at the window. The staff isn’t unfriendly at the location we go to, but I wouldn’t say they are friendly either. This is the standard they set and are obviously happy with because it never changes no matter how many times I complain.
This brings me back to today. I work a part time J.O.B. (which someday when I become a rich and famous writer I won’t have to do anymore) and the shift is 9 or 10 hours long and since I am the only employee – I get no lunch break. If I eat before work I am starving by the end. So I usually swing through a quick fast food place and grab something to eat once I get to work and get everything set up for the customers that day. It is usually pretty slow for the first hour, so I can usually get at least half of my lunch in before it is too cold to enjoy. One of the places I frequent is the local Braum’s. This particular location has the big thick crinkle cut fries that I love and their ice is that soft crunchy kind you can eat after your soda is all gone. The service is bad for the most part, but the place is inexpensive, convenient and fast so it’s worth the toss up. I usually only order one of three things there: Chicken strip meal, Chili meal or the Kid’s meal. The chili is my favorite but they often times forget to turn the warmer on and the chili is cold. No one (especially in Texas) can eat cold chili. Once I get to work and find out it’s cold there is nothing I can do but call and complain. I don’t have time to go back and even if I did the chili still wouldn’t be cold. It happens about half the time. So I’ve learned that when I pull up and I hear, “Welcome to Braum’s. Would you like to try our blah blah blah today?” I come back with, “Is your chili hot today?” …which is irritating. Who should have to ask that?
So today I pull up to the window and get to the question and the response was, “uuuh, yes, it will be.” I thought for a second and said, “It will be or it is?”. He said, “Yes ma’am, it is. I just asked.” So I took the plunge and ordered the chili meal with a Dr. Pepper. (Which I was really excited about because I gave up soda’s for lent in support of my Catholic friends and 40 days and nights is a looooooong time to go without DP!!) The voice then asks if I would like cheese, onions or sour cream with my chili. They very seldom actually ask and I usually forget to ask for it because all I can really think about is hoping the chili is hot! So I say that yes, I would like cheese on the chili and sour cream on the side. “That will be six oh five at your first window ma’am.” Ok, this must be a manager on the window today. I pull to the window and see the badge “Shift Manager” – that makes more sense. I hand him my card and wait for my receipt and tell him to have a good day. I get to the window to get my food and see the girl filling my soda cup. She turns and opens the window and hands me my drink and a big bright pink straw (I love their straws). She closes the window and walks away. Then it happens. I see a woman at the counter with a small pint size container of Braum’s sour cream. The plastic lid is off and the foil top has been peeled back. It was obvious this wasn’t fresh sour cream. Then she gets a small styrofoam container and sticks her fingers in the sour cream and pulls out three “scoops” of it and puts one after the other in the To-Go container. With. Her. Hands. No spoon. No fork. Not even a straw or using gravity and pouring it in. She scooped it out with her fingers. Now, before I say anything else I need to say – she was wearing a glove. To me – that didn’t matter. Watching her pull the sour cream I was going to put in my mouth, with her fingers made me sick. I immediately visualized those poor little kids from other countries that scoop rice into their little dehydrating mouths as flies land on their tiny little noses and hands. I got to work and threw the sour cream out. I just couldn’t eat it. It actually didn’t look fresh and creamy anyway – you can see that in the picture above. Honestly though, I threw it out because she served it to me with her fingers.
Gross or not? What are your thoughts? Am I over-reacting? Should I have said something? Is it really no big deal? What are some of your fast food stories?