Thursday, October 18, 2007

Hate: The Shenanigans That Goes On Behind the Counter at a Fast-Food Place

You know that saying about getting what you pay for? Couldn't be more true in the world of Big Macs, Whoppers and Chalupas. Sure, the food is tasty what with all the fat and sugar and everything but let's just say that the folks who are serving these delicacies to you aren't exactly this year's finalists on Top Chef. When you are getting hooked up with a burger, fries and a big sippy-cup full of Coke for about five bucks, you gotta expect that something else has to give. OK, maybe a few things have to give - considering that the artwork usually looks like it came out of a Super-8 hotel room that had to be renovated after a hooker was killed in a scuffle over a dime-bag. But we're here today to talk about the tom-foolery that happens behind that magic dividing line called The Counter, not the paintings on the wall.

Since I'm a regular at these fine establishments, I get the chance to watch the crack team of Food Service Professionals quite often. During the normal eating times, the folks usually just do their thing. They take your order, they punch some buttons, they "cook" your stuff and they slide the tray with that paper placemat thing on it towards you full of fatty goodness. No sweat. You pay your $5 and you go on your merry way, one clogged artery closer to death.

However, I've noticed that when you visit for a mid-afternoon snacky or a late-morning pick-me-up and the place isn't quite so busy, those rascals behind The Counter can lose.... focus. For instance, it's during these quieter times that an innocent customer can sometimes listen in on a recap of the weekend's parties that the the teenage crowd attended while their parents were out of town. One minute, Ashley is serving up your combo meal and the next thing you know she is regaling her friends about how many beer bongs she did and how it had never come out of her nose before then. It's like Ashley forgets that people can actually hear and see stuff that goes on behind The Counter. Ashley, I just need my grub. I don't really want to hear about your recent experiences at the Piercing Pagoda!

Even the manager can get a little un-professional when he/she thinks no one is listening. When discussing food, I prefer a tight ship over one with leaks in it. Leaks let in germs that even a big dose of Special Sauce can't kill. I like to see the manager dropping fries in grease, assembling happy meals, and generally making sure that Skippy The High School Kid gets my order to me in a timely manner. What I don't like to see is Sporto The High School Kid Who Is Also The Manager get caught up in the discussion about the Algebra test on Friday. If indeed the manager is an adult (i.e. someone that actually uses the health benefits portion of the McDonald's compensation package), it's not just un-professional for him to be talking about the prom, it's a little creepy. That's why Mondays are bad days to go to these joints - too much reviewing of the weekend's events. I suggest Tuesdays when the full burden of the working world has subdued those poor bastards enough that they have become the French Fry jockeys that I'm looking for.

And how about when one of the high school punks is visited by another high school punk. Punk #2 may or may not be employed by the fast-food place but, either way, unless you actually remove all of your clothes in an effort to get noticed, the punk/friend will get far more attention than you will. Remember, Sporto behind the counter ain't getting paid on commission so he is more than happy to let you stand there, wallet in hand, while he blathers on to his little friend about the algebra exam in third period. And if it's some chick who is distracting Mr. Hormones behind the counter, you are better off raising a calf of your own, slaughtering it, grinding it into hamburger and grilling it on the barbecue that you built yourself, while tending the potatos that will be used for french fries.

Lastly, and this may seem nit-picky, but I don't want to hear laughter coming from behind The Counter. Laughter from someone who is touching my food makes me nervous. Laughter might mean "Ha Ha, I just dropped that good-looking guy's Chalupa on the floor" or "Ha Ha, Have you ever put a Chalupa down your pants?!" or "Ha Ha, Hey look, everyone, I'm wearing a Chalupa for a hat!" I generally like a good joke, but I prefer some decorum when preparing my Value Meal. Eating junk food is serious business and, unless Chris Rock is now flipping burgers, I don't want to hear any funny business coming from the land of stainless steel. Let's everyone just calm down and no one gets hurt.

So if you are one of the zillions of people around the world who get a discount on your McFat Burger because you work at one of those joints and wear a paper hat and/or hairnet, please keep it down behind The Counter. Us poor bastards who have fallen prey to your siren song are living on borrowed time as it is so please don't make our lives any more miserable. While it's true that your life isn't exactly a bed of roses (see hairnet comment above), don't drag me down into McHell with you.