All ethical and nutritional considerations completely ignored, the real fucking problem with McDonald’s restaurants is that they no longer display their complete menu on the wall, and as a result of that, the ordering process has become subject to the literal interpretation of whomever is working the counter.
Places like Wendy’s or Burger King – I don’t know who’s seen this – each item offered is listed on the menu wall, clearly distinguishable from each of the other items, using specific language. Employ that same language when placing your order and you’re almost guaranteed to get what you want – no further line of questioning required. But at McDonald’s, they don’t do it like that.
“Look, no dollar-thirty-nine menu at all – I don’t even see fries up there” my palSean observed somewhat bewilderedly as we stood ready to place our orders, “You just have to know”.
Sean was right; you do just have to know; and granted, most people do know exactly what they want to eat at McDonald’s without having to consult a menu. It’s a craving-bait operation. However, the negligence of McDonald’s to clearly display every menu option in specific language puts the onus on me as a customer to possess the skill-set required to communicate my order to the person across the counter in accordance with their own interpretation of, and familiarity with the menu options; and consequently, this has created an entirely unnecessary and completely avoidable obscurity in the McDonald’s restaurant ordering process.
“Can I help the next person in line please” the girl across the counter asked me.
“Yeah” I told her, “can I get three hamburgers and a medium fries, please.”
“Three hamburgers? Do you want cheese on those”? The girl was not joking.
“What?” You work at fucking McDonald’s! Your profession is taking orders all day long! You should know that you offer a motherfucking item called a motherfucking Hamburger which exists solely to provide a no-cheese alternative to the Cheeseburger, so why in the absolute fuck would you feel compelled to ask me if I want cheese on my three Hamburgers? You wanna know why? Lack of specific language in the ordering process. Put Hamburger - $1.39 back up on the wall; Cheeseburger - $1.49 right under it, and give me one chance to employ some specific language. At that juncture, the professional order-taker would also get one chance to execute the relay of my order to her computer and complete it, without it being subject to literal interpretation.
[Side note: At Burger King, if you order a Whopper, they will always ask you if you’d like cheese on it, but I take no issue with that; the distinction being that the Whopper with cheese is just a Whopper, with cheese. There is no Whopper With Cheese on the menu – the cheese is just an add-on – and if you do green-light the cheese, they still wrap the thing in standard Whopper packaging. At McDonald’s, it’s two distinctly separate product offerings, indicated by, a) each coming in their own respective Hamburger orCheeseburger wrapping paper, and b) both – until recently – being listed on the menu individually.]
So anyway, I stood there impossibly trying to make eye contact with both of her eyes at once. “No, no cheese, I want three plain burgers”. As I said it I was struck with the realization that I had just fucked myself, but perhaps out of spite, or perhaps already formulating this essay in my head and in need of justification, I let it ride. Three minutes passed and I sat down and unwrapped my food. No pickles, no onions. No mustard, relish, ketchup – just bread, and meat.
“Fucking look at this!” I said, flipping my snack open like a paperback for Sean to see what I had. “Bread, and fucking meat”. Admittedly, it was the term plain rather than regular that had fucked me over upon having to clarifymy desire for no cheese – but my point here is that I wouldn’t have to monkey around with either of those terms if the menu was already implementing a standardized set of specific terminology and language. Hamburger would be enough.
“You should take those back” Sean told me, laughing. Obviously, there were several measures of immediate recourse to be considered; and like anyone, I’ve had dreams of sending a bunk order back through the air, bound for the shift-managers greasy face, or maybe up at where the menu should be, but in all those dreams there’s ketchup and mustard and relish getting splattering all over the place; errant pickles and shit. In this particular case, I supposed, there would not be much glory in seeing two dry buns and a rubber patty bounce off a Minute Maid sign; so on I chewed, defeated.
“Cheeseburger, no cheese” Sean said, biting into his Big Mac with all the compliments of the house. I looked up at him, coaxing some elaboration. “From now on you just gotta say Cheeseburger, no cheese, see what they think ofthat”.