Friday, January 10, 2003

Something to Blog About

After waiting at least, I don't know, 10 minutes in the drive-thru at the KFC on Landover Rd., the cars in front of me moved forward and I was finally at the mic. Before I could order though, someone inside said something fast and unintelligible, and I don't think this is the first time I thought this recently, but, I thought only native English speakers, or folks so assimilated you hear no hint of accent should work at drive-thru windows--AND I'M NO RACIST, but I digress.

I barked WHAT? at the speaker a few times and wondered if the guy ahead of me had pulled up because they told him he had to order at the window, or...what? No one answered. Not long after, a woman appeared rounding the car in front of me, came to my window and quite pleasantly said "We're closed. We're out of chicken. I just wanted to come out here and tell you so you wouldn't be out here waiting."

Did I mention that it'd been about 10 minutes before I even got to the mic? Did I mention, this was at KFC, a place known for selling chicken, that had run out of, er, uh, chicken? Now I know they say black folks got a thing with fried chicken, AND I'M NO RACIST, but that aside, do ya think the manager of the joint could've planned a little better?

I half muttered and chuckled as I drove outta there because I'd been thinking of leaving well before I finally got to the squawkbox, most notably after the person who'd pulled in behind me turned around and left, but I now went in search of Checkers instead because it was closer to what I really wanted, which was Popeyes (and I didn't know where a Popeyes was.) It's been one of those kinds of weeks where I'm practically living in the car, so I'd become something of fast food conoisseur, unfortunately

So, awhile later, I'm pulling into the Burger King drive-rhru on Annapolis Rd., having not found the Checkers where I thought it was. There was no line, I placed the order with the accented but intelligible voice outta the squawk box and arrive at the window. We're out of Whopper buns, so you have a burger bun, instead. I laughed. He gave me a discount since I wasn't gonna get the usual overload of carbs--and I didn't even ask! I wonder, though, does this kinda thing happen outside urban environments? (and I mean that in the intended meaning of the word, not the euphemized one, since I'm no racist. Hell, my best friends are black! In fact, I AM!)

It's a treat to go to drive thrus in LA (Lovely Asheville). At Wendys on Tunnel Rd., they actually chirp through the box when you complete your order: See ya at the winda! I love that! At Backyard Burgers on Merrimon Ave., the voice in the box actually says something like, take your time, I'll help you when you're ready or something like that, after welcoming you to the box. Asheville's wonderful anomalies aside, I have never been at a fast food restaurant that had run out of anything--except in DC and its environs. It's maddening! I once resentfully sat a drive-thru in Anacostia for what seemed like for flipping ever, but probably was really only about 20 minutes, inching forward to the box to get the requisite Happy Meal, to finally get to the box, place the order and hear We're out of burgers. This is no lie.

I've had too many occasions recently in retail establishments in which I pose a question or some other customer does, and we get a question back in return, consumer and employee deducing an answer, eventually. Is it too much to ask that people who work at a place know something about it --or, at least have the conscientiousness to go and find out the answer to a question? What do they tell these people during orientation, just put on your nametag and your smock, show up and walk around every day? It's astounding, really, the lack of training or common sense or common courtesy running rampant in retail smocks these days! (I know. I sound like a fogie.)

A guy at work who's in the Maryland National Guard (for Pete's sake!) got called to Active Duty to parts unknown for a year starting in a few weeks. The news really disturbed me; I won't get into it here.

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