Saturday, March 25, 2006
Fastfood Amnesia - Update
Say your driving around town doing errands that the wife set you out to do. A trip to the drug store for odds-n-ends followed by a quick stop at the grocery for eggs, milk, baby food, some bread and chicken for dinner. You patiently wait for the inordinately slow seniors in the checkout line to complete their transaction. You get into your car and drive to your next stop using strategic zig-zags through side streets trying to avoid downtown traffic. Mentally drained, you decide that you need a break. Driven by the subliminal advertisement you've heard hundreds of times, you decide to stop for a quick bite at McDonalds.
We're all Americans. Apple pie, Fourth of July, baseball, barbecues, mowing the lawn and McDonalds. We grew up with these staples of Americana. America's weight problem aside, the Golden Arches might as well be the symbol of America. We are drawn to this iconic restaurant without thinking. Its our democratic duty as Americans to stop into McDonalds at least a few times a year.
You pull into the McDonalds parking lot already with a clear idea of what you want. (I personally grew up with the BigMac value meal). Sure, its one of the worst things for you: 1150 Calories, 50 grams of fat and 152 grams of carbs but you can't help yourself. It stares at you promising fulfillment like no other food can.
You walk inside and make a beeline for the counter. But wait, there are others waiting to order so you suddenly stop. You know what you want but the 3 or 4 people in front of you haven't even made it to the counter. The funny thing is that no one is holding up the line. There isn't a spill on the linoleum floor or some other problem with the cash register. Some unknown force has stopped them in their tracks and is now backing them up against the counter that holds the condiments where they are now frozen with blank stares. What's holding them up you ask yourself? Did they forget money? Was there a family emergency?
Oh wait. This can't be. Are they all looking up at the menu? Haven't they been to McDonalds before?
Here in lies the fifty thousand dollar question: Why is it that when most people go to McDonalds, they move as far back from the counter as possible so as to examine the menu above as if they've never been to a McDonalds in their life?
Sure, some of you say the menu has changed. Please, spare me your poor excuses. The basic McDonalds menu has stayed the same for over 20 years! The Filet-O-Fish was introduced in 1963, the Big Mac in 1968, the Quarter Pounder in 1973, the Drive-Thru in 1975, Happy Meal in 1979, McChicken in 1980, McRib in 1981, Chicken McNuggets in 1983, Salads in 1985 along with the McDLT which is now the Big & Tasty. Okay, some of the items went through some modifications but overall, the menu is a carbon-copy of what it was in the 1980s. For anyone over the age of 35, if you can't recite the McDonalds menu from memory then either you've never been out of the house or you've lived in a third-world country completely isolated from the modern world. Wait. This just in. McDonalds is now located in Morocco which is in Africa. So yes, its still considered a third-world country which means that if you still stare at the McDonalds menu, you're very sheltered.
Back to our story.
Here's where the problem begins for you: Do you step in front of them potentially upsetting the group still mesmerized at the illuminated menu in front of them? Do you stop and wait for the group to come out of their trance caused by their sudden over-assimilation of information?
At this point, the break from your hustle and bustle errant filled hour you've been looking forward has become more like work. All you want to do is place an order, get your food and get out. Fastfood, afterall, is supposed to be focused on speed and efficiency. We want our food now not next week. The high school kids behind the counter will no doubt operate at such a slow speed so that a sundial will be needed to clock their progress so you certainly don't need other customers contributing to the counter-productive nightmare that is fastfood order-taking.
Instead of filling your stomach with a "heart attack value meal", your pondering the ethical ramifications of your potential movement in front of people (who unfortunately represent a good number of the general population) who haven't paid attention to the menu during their other five thousand visits to McDonalds starting in childhood. Keep in mind that all of this activity--or lack thereof--is happening over a distance of 8 feet.
By now, 5 minutes have elapsed and you patience is getting thinner. Your stomach is growling and your now afraid that your decision might be an impulsive one with complete disregard to these customers.
Screw it. Your stomach makes the decision for you. You fly up to the counter, order your food without making eye contact with the group behind you, grab a few napkins and high-tail it out the door. As you make your way to the door, you curiosity gets the better of you. You have to know if those clueless people made it to the counter to order. So you turn around to take a look. What do you know. . The group is still near the back of the line staring at the menu as if Hamburglar or Grimace was hypnotizing them with dangling Happy Meal toys.
Sucks to be them.
As you leave the restaurant, the uncertain group of people begin to saunter up to the counter. Judging by their facial expressions, they're still not convinced that their food choice is the best one . At this point, you don't care because you got your food, your back in your car and relaxing with your 1100 calories of pure artery clogging delight.
What can we learn from this story: If you don't know the McDonals menu, learn it. Make it a point to know the entire menu from the McGriddles to Apple Pies to the Big 'N Tasty. Taking some time to learn the basics of a McDonalds menu will not only save time, it will make everyone's life that much easier. Better yet, just pack your lunch.