|The View from the Corner|
|View from the Corner for Aug 21, 2006||Back to View Index|
"What Burns Me, Part 7" by Troy H. Cheek on Aug 21, 2006
You know what burns me? When I go into a restaurant, either a particular restaurant I've been to a hundred times before or a restaurant in a chain that I've been to a thousand times before, order the exact same thing I always order when eating at that restaurant/chain/whatever, and I am told one of the following:
I was out of town a couple of weekends back and decided to stop at a particular restaurant which appeared to be part of a chain which I frequent when home.
"Thank you for dining at Sir Pukesalot Family Restaurant and Taxidermy Service. What can I order for you today?"
I scanned the menu. "Do you have the fish sandwich? Your store in Cleveland makes the best fish sandwiches, but I don't see it on the menu behind you there."
The young lady turned around to study the menu herself. "I don't see it listed."
"What did I just say? Never mind. What I'm asking is, regardless of whether it's listed on that menu or not, do you sell the fish sandwich?"
"Sir, it's not on the menu."
"I know that. But do you have buns and fish filets in the back so you can make me a fish sandwich?"
"How can we? It's not listed on the menu."
With an effort, I stopped clenching my jaw and grinding my teeth. I've discovered that clenching/grinding is what gives me a headache in these situations. "Young lady, do you see ketchup listed on that menu?"
"Then if I order fries, I'll have to eat them without ketchup?"
"Don't be silly. We have ketchup bottles on the tables and little packets to put in carry-out orders. Of course you can have ketchup."
"Even though it's not on the menu?"
"Sir, just because something isn't on the menu doesn't mean you can't get it here."
Gotcha! "Then I'd like a fish sandwich."
"Sir, I don't see a fish sandwich listed on the menu."
"Can we try ordering it anyway just to see what the kitchen says?"
"Sir, if it's not on the menu, you can't get it here."
Sometimes when people read about things which have really happened in my life, they think those items are works of fiction. Please believe me when I say that the above conversation did indeed take place exactly two Saturdays ago in a franchise of a nationally-known fast food restaurant. Lather, rinse, and repeat the "ketchup/fish sandwich isn't on the menu" comparison about three times with two different employees to get the full effect.
I finally gave up and decided I'd take a Super Value Family Combo back to the hotel and munch on it for the remainder of the day, taking care of both supper and late night snack. "Okay, I'll have a regular-sized Family Combo with half fish, half chicken, no sides, and your biggest diet drink."
"Would you like a regular or large combo, sir?"
What did I just say? "Regular. The one with the eight pieces of meat. I'd like four fish and four chicken. No sides."
"And do you want fish, chicken, beef, pork, or shrimp with that?"
What did I just say? "Four fish, four chicken. No sides."
"And what sides items would you like? We have fries, hush puppies, and... Sir! What are you doing?"
I was climbing over the counter. Actually, I was just sizing it up for the attempt, but I must have been telegraphing my intentions pretty clearly. I backed off a bit. "Young lady, how many times have I told you that I don't want any side items?"
"Oh, so that's what you meant." Punch punch click click. "Would you like anything to drink?"
"I'd like your largest sized cup of diet drink."
"What size would that be, sir?"
"You tell me. I've been eating at fast food restaurants for 40 years and I know that there's always one and sometimes two cup sizes larger than 'large' and I want the biggest one."
"Oh, then you want an extra-large cup."
This is true, by the way. Interstate James and I once stopped at an ice cream place and he ordered a large chocolate shake. They gave him this tiny little cup. When he complained that he'd ordered a large shake, they told him that was the large. He pointed out that of the three cups displayed on the wall next to the menu, the size he had been given was the smallest. They told him that though it was the smallest, it was considered a large. I asked for the names of the three sizes. They were large, extra-large, and jumbo. Again, this is a true story.
Getting back to Sir Pukesalot, the girl behind the counter had finally figured out how to ring up my purchase. "That will be $11.50, sir."
Lacking exact change, I gave her a $20 bill and a $1 bill. She counted back $9.50 or so. Wait a minute.
"Young lady, wait a minute. I gave you $21 so you wouldn't have to count out all those ones."
"Well, your order comes to $11.50, so that's the change you're supposed to get."
I hadn't really been listening when she told me the total, but thinking back I could tell that she was right. "My bad. I'd forgotten that I'd ordered an extra-large drink when I normally order a large. Sorry to bother you."
"No bother, sir. Here's your cup and we'll have your order right out."
She handed me the cup.
It was a large.
I pondered the possibilities. It was possible that this particular restaurant in the chain used different cup sizes. Perhaps what I knew down South as a large was considered an extra-large here. Yes, that must be it. I went to the fountain drink dispenser to fill up. Then I reached for a lid. Then I paused.
There were two stacks of lids larger than my "largest cup you have" lids.
"Young lady, I hate to complain, but I asked for the largest cup you have, which you told me was the extra-large, but I notice this is the size of a large cup back home and you have lids over there for a larger cup size."
"Sir, that's the biggest cup we have in stock right now, so that's the biggest one I can give you. That's why I only charged you for a large."
"If you'd only charged me for a large, then my order would have been what I usually order from the restaurant back home on a regular basis, and the total would have been $10.36 and not the $11.50 you quoted me. I understand that the sales tax might be a little different up here in Yankee land, but I can't see it making the difference of a dollar."
We argued back and forth for a bit, me trying to add up the prices and calculate sales tax in my head, she punching them up on the register. We finally pinpointed that the difference came from her charging me over $9 for the Family Combo with no sides while the menu said $7.99, plus a slightly higher sales tax.
"Ah, there's the problem. You've charged me a dollar too much for the Combo with no sides. See!"
"Sir, those are the Family Combo prices."
"Yes, and down at the bottom of the Family Combo prices is an entry for getting the meat items without the side items, which is what I ordered."
"Sir, without the side items, it's not a Family Combo."
"And yet there is an entry for the meat items without the side items showing the price for which they can be bought."
"But that only applies to the Family Combo, sir."
Eventually, after much repeating of arguments and rapidly escalating tempers, the manager came out and explained to me that the menu showed the price for just the meat items that came in the Family Combo, but said price only applied if ordering said meats in combination (hence the word "combo") with the side items. Since I was ordering the meat items without any side items, that price didn't apply and a higher a la carte price was to be expected.
I rejected this explanation. "That's not the way they do it back home."
"Sir, these are the prices that we are supposed to charge. They are set by the corporate office and the individual restaurants are not allowed to alter them. If the employees at your local franchise are charging you a lower amount for this meal then they are stealing from the company and will eventually be caught and fired for it."
As I'd made the mistake of shooting up with my insulin in the truck before coming into the restaurant, I caved. "Yes, ma'am. Whatever you say."
I went back to the truck, drove back to the motel, and opened up my Family Combo box to enjoy my meal of fish and chicken.
Or, more accurately, my meal of pork and shrimp.
Copyright 2006 by Troy H. Cheek. Reprint with prior written permission only. Comments and questions to
|Back to top||Back to View Main|
|Send feedback to||Back to Cheek.Org|
|This page last updated on Aug 20, 2006 by Troy H. Cheek|