I don’t eat fast food very often. Why?, you ask. Because you are a food snob? you assume. No, no, no, I am not a food snob. I just don’t like to eat much fast food. First off, nearly everything is fried which doesn’t fit in very well with my attempts to maintain my carefully crafted, painstakingly acquired, lifetime-member weight-watchers weight. Fast food makes me fat. There, I said it. Secondly, fast food costs money and I am kind of a shrew when it comes to spending money. Why would I pay two freakin dollars for French fries when I can get a five pound bag of potatoes for the same price? Do you know how many fries that is, people? I also, for the most part can’t justify paying three or more dollars for a chicken sandwich, which is always what I want. Why are chicken sandwiches more expensive than hamburgers, anyhow? This makes no sense to me. You want me to pay 79 cents for a humburger but 3 bucks for chicken? Is the chicken dipped in gold? Or is there something very, very wrong with the cow you’re trying to sell me? Either way, it doesn’t make sense to me.
So anyways, I don’t eat fast food very often because I hate being fat and broke. I know many, many people who eat fast food much more frequently than me who are not fat and are not broke so I’m not making any judgments. But I personally end up fat and broke if I haul my widening ass down to Arby’s more than once a quarter, so I just don’t go.
However, every now and then a maddening fast food craving seizes me. This week I needed fast food. I NEEDED it. I had this little record player going in my head on a loop – “MUST. HAVE. WENDY’S. SPICY. CHICKEN.” it said. “CRUNCHY. SPICY. CHICKEN.” it affirmed, over and over and over again. This does not happen often, but when it does I am a slave. I don’t know why it happens, either. I hardly even look up when my husband’s watching TV, so I’m sure I didn’t see a commercial for it, I don’t think I heard anything on the radio, and I’m fairly confident that I didn’t even drive by a Wendy’s. It doesn’t seem to correlate to my monthly cycles (or any of my female friends’ monthly cycles), my mood, stress, my husband’s mood, etc, etc, etc. I have no idea what happens, yet the record keeps playing. When this happens I fight it for approximately two days. Then I start to whine, “But I want a spicy chicken sooooo baaaad! Whaaa! It’s not faaaaair! Why do they have to be baaaad for meeeeeee? Whaaaa!” Then I start to whine at my husband, “But you can eat whatever you waaaaaant! It’s not faaaair! Why can’t I have the skinny gene tooooooo? Whaaa!” Then I rationalize. Then I make plans to eat the spicy chicken, all the while making halfhearted attempts to talk myself out of it, just so I can look back later and comfort myself by saying that I at least tried. Then I eat the fucking thing and get it over with.
Last night was the night of the spicy chicken. Last night was the end of rationalization. Last night I just went to the drive up and ordered the damn thing.
It should be noted that not only was I the only car in the drive thru, there were no customers inside the Wendy’s either. How do I know this? Oh, you’re about to find out. I order my spicy chicken sandwich, requesting that my sandwich be made plain as a part of a value meal with a diet coke . A gangster-esque voice asks me what size I want my value meal: small, medium, or large? “Um, medium?” I respond. “Six-nineteen, please pull around to the window,” says the girl who I am now sure is going to initiate me with some sort of gang ritual when I pull my car around.
So I pull around to the window with six dollars and twenty cents. Six dollars? Seriously? For a piece of chicken, a potato and maybe 20 cents worth of cola in a 7 cent glass? Fine, whatever. I. NEED. SPICY. CHICKEN. so I fork it over. The girl hands me a bag, tells me that my fries are inside, but my ‘spicy’ is still cooking so if I’d just pull my car up, she’ll bring it out to me. She says all of this in approximately 4 seconds, as though the entire sentence is one long word. I blink and take the bag. She disappears before I even realize I haven’t gotten my change. Yes, it’s just a penny, but dammit, I’m a shrew! I need that penny! I pull my car forward and open the bag. Inside I see very sad fries. The sad fries look neglected, like someone cooked them and forgot about them. They’ve had their glory days and now, in their old age, someone has cast them aside in this bag and shoved them out a window. Poor fries. They are mushy, the way fries get when they get old – hell, the way most of us people get as we age. The fries are brown around the corners. I poke them to see if they’ve still got even a bit of spunk left in them. They don’t budge. They are cold and dead. These fries need buried. I decide I am not going to wait for the girl to bring the ‘spicy’ out to me before I point out the obvious defeated characteristics of these fries, as I will just have to send her right back in and then wait for her some more. I park the car. I walk inside. I say, very politely, “These fries are kind of cold and mushy. I was wondering if I could get some fresh ones?” In my mind this is not too much to ask. I just paid six freakin dollars and I am not about to eat mushy fries. I can make myself mushy fries for fifty cents at home. Ghetto girl looks at me and says, “I can’t take those back over the counter.” She’s holding up her hands as she says this, as if to shield herself from the deadly fries I’m trying to give back to her. What, radiation fries? Maybe. I look at her. “My fries are cold and mushy” I repeat. “Well I can’t take those back over the counter,” she says in a snotty voice, “you can do whatever you want with them but I can’t take them.” She turns around and yells at someone to make me a new medium fry.
At this point I look around and realize I am the only customer in the building. I wait patiently for my new fries. In the meantime, my ‘spicy’ is delivered to me. I open the spicy. Suspiciously enough, I see lettuce and tomato and mayo smeared all over the spicy. This is not good. This is not making me happy. Lettuce and tomato can be removed easily enough but I am not going to great pains to wipe the lard-looking mayo off my bun, only to feel the resulting squishyness of the bun and catch residual tastes of mayonnaise in each ensuing bite. I tell the guy at the counter that my sandwich is wrong. He takes the sandwich back over the counter. I’m not sure if there’s a difference in the rules for taking things back over the counter for chickens as opposed to fries or if he’s nicer than ghetto-girl or if he’s just stupider. I don’t care. I just want to be rid of the damn sandwich. He yells at someone to make me a new spicy, plain this time, please! It takes him four yells for the girl in back to understand that plain means ‘no toppings’. Plain. No Toppings. From her exasperated, “But what does she want on it?” I can tell that this is not a language barrier problem. English is clearly her first language. She just doesn’t understand the concept of ‘plain’. I know this is complicated, but please, I just want my damn sandwich. In the meantime, my new fries come up. They are hot and lively – fries at their peak. This makes me happy. At this point I notice that the container my fries are in is a different color and a different size than the fries I originally received. I ask the guy at the counter about this. These are medium fries, he tells me. So the first time around I apparently not only received the oldest fries in the history of fast food service, I received too few of them – not that I really would have wanted more of those particular fries, but still, it’s the principle. I wait for my spicy chicken sandwich to be completed. I know it’s probably a difficult order to fill, what with me wanting NO TOPPINGS on it and all, but still, this fast food is turning out not to be very fast. Finally I receive a spicy chicken sandwich, plain to go with my fresh medium fry. At this point I have been at Wendy’s for over 20 minutes.
Do you need a recap? I do. I received the wrong size fry container filled with fries my dog wouldn’t eat, a sandwich with the wrong toppings, and I haven’t got my change back (I need my damn penny!). I am the only person being served. The only person. The only person coming through the drive-thru. The only person in the lobby. It took twenty minutes, a return of two products, four yells to the sandwich girl in back, serious confusion about what can go back over the counter, and a shitty, snotty, ghetto attitude for me to successfully receive what I ordered in the first place and I was the only person being served. Six people behind that counter could not serve me in less than 20 minutes.
Then I remembered, “This is why I don’t eat fast food.” It’s got nothing to do with being fat and broke. I simply don’t have this much patience.
Right after that epiphany, I realized that if a person were competent enough to make a sandwich as ordered, cook fries and put them in the correct box, and make change, they probably wouldn’t be making a living at the Wendy’s drive-thru anyhow. Sometimes I forget these points. Still, it doesn’t mean you have the right to be a snotty bitch after you screwed up my order and I politely asked you to correct it, so I made eye contact with ghetto girl as I very clearly plucked a comment card off the nearest table and walked out the door.
I’m still trying to decide if ‘bitchy’ is too harsh a word for a comment card.