I spend a lot of time in lines of fast food restaurants, both inside and out. As a result, I have a lot of stories about them. For example, I was the line for Baker's drive-thru, and the guy at the speaker told me my total was $5.15. But when I pulled up to where you pay, the lady told me that my total was $1.50. I was distracted, so not even thinking about it, I paid her what she asked for. It wasn't until I drove up to the food window, I realized something was wrong. I looked at my receipt and saw that they had only charged me for a chocolate shake.
The guy at the food window said "Do you want ketchup or hot sauce?" I wanted to be honest, so I said, "You know, I think you didn't charge me enough, because..."
He interrupted me, "I have your receipt sir!" he snapped. "I'll put it in the bag. Did you want ketchup or hot sauce?"
"Hot sauce," I said. "Thanks." And I drove away with my conveniently discounted meal.
But that, of course, is just the beginning. One of the oddest experiences I had took place at a McDonald's drive-thru. When I ordered two cheeseburgers, they told me that they didn't have "any regular meat."
I was too stunned by this to respond, and I ended up going somewhere else for lunch, but, afterward, I realized I had missed a golden opportunity for a clever remark. I should have said, "Do you have any mutant meat? I'd like that instead."
Or, when they told me they didn't have any regular meat, I could have said, "How is that different from any other day?"
Ah well, comedic hindsight is 20/20. Speaking of the number twenty, that's approximately how many hot sauce packets the local Del Taco gives me every time I go there, which prompts several questions. Does anyone really ever eat that much hot sauce? Do I hate my intestinal system so much that I would slather the already-bad-for-my-health fast food with all of that spiciness? Do I hold my stomach in such disdain? Am I that filled with self-loathing? (The answers to these questions are no, no, no, and only sometimes.)
Compare this to Long John Silvers. I went there one afternoon to hang out with all the old people, and after waiting for in line for a half hour while the elderly deciphered the menu and figured out what they wanted to eat—apparently oblivious to the fact that some of us have to work!—I was able to place my order. I asked for the "shrimp and more" platter, unaware that "and more" stands for "more shrimp sauce than you can possibly eat." In the bag were ten shrimp in the meal and six containers of sauce (actual amounts). According to my calculator, that's 1.6666666666 containers of sauce per shrimp (SPS).
Meanwhile, different McDonald's handle their sauces in a variety of ways. The McDonald's near my work charges an additional twenty-five cents for each sauce that you get with your chicken McNuggets. At the same time, you can go to the McDonald's near my house and, by simply asking for ketchup, you can get loaded down with so many packets that your car's gas mileage is affected by the extra weight.
In previous columns, I have mentioned that the McDonald's near my house is the worst McDonald's in the world. The only reason I still go there is because I'm morbidly curious about what they will screw up next. I even tell my wife, before I go, that I will come back with a report. Usually it's something basic, like bad customer service or leaving an item off your order. But one morning, when I went there for coffee, they caught me completely off guard. Their sprinklers were set up so that they sprayed right through the driver's side window of the car, and I got nailed in the face. Also a true story.
Tell me they don't do that on purpose.
It was at this same McDonald's, on a wild and crazy whim never to be repeated, I once ordered an Asian chicken salad instead of a cheeseburger. It wasn't easy, though. The salad was hard to find on the drive-through menu. There were big bold graphics of angus burgers dripping with cheese, but the salads were listed down in a corner, in smaller print, and hidden behind a plant that had grown a little too big.
"What kind of salads do you have?" I had to ask the lady at the drive through.
"They're on the menu."
"Yes, but the menu is hidden behind the plant from Little Shop of Horrors, and he's threatening to eat me. Obviously, he's not concerned about the calories in his diet."
The lady must have misunderstood my rant because she responded by saying, "Okay. I've got five Happy Meals. Would you like to supersize those?"
When I finally did get my salad, I resisted using the ranch dressing that was supplied with it. The ranch dressing is a trick, because if you eat it, you lose any nutritional benefits that you might normally get from eating a salad, because one pack of that stuff has the same amount of fat and calories as a Big Mac with M&M's in it. (Try it sometime.)
That last story about the salad is completely false. I made it up, and there's plenty more where that came from (an overly demented imaginative mind). So stay tuned for The Food Trilogy, Part III.