It started with an older man in a Billy Bee delivery uniform. To me, he looked quite memorable, but I suppose after a shift of fast food sales, every old man begins to look alike. Old people seem to love McDonalds. They’re everywhere.
Within the first moment, it was clear this was one of the extra special customers, complete with bad hearing and limited English. I’m sure they’re the favourites of anyone who stands behind a counter for a living. He entered the store just ahead of me. As always – the line/queue situation at this particular location is dreadful. There is limited space behind the counter, and it is constantly filled with three groups of people. You can never tell the difference between who is in line waiting to order, and who is waiting for food, and who is coming back through this small narrow area to throw out their food and exit.
This fragile old man was standing in the wrong place for some time, and I had the opportunity to be serviced ahead of him, but I hesitated, and I’m glad I did. He story began as he stood off to one site, behind another lady waiting for her burger. Our teenage girl catches his attention and asks about his coffee. As first, I thought perhaps he was a regular, and she was just getting his usual coffee for him, but after a moment it was clear this was not the case. She had somehow mistaken him for another customer who had already ordered a coffee and a muffin.
In a rushed and somewhat urgent tone, she asked; “what kind of coffee?”, and he replied. Pepsi. This was when I figured out he was placing an order, and she was asking about a different order, but only I detected this. Like many people with a language barrier, or poor hearing, they learn to adapt and give in. Since she seemed rushed, and was asking about coffee, even motioning towards the coffee machine as she spoke, he gave up almost instantly and answered with “Black”. It was the easier option I suppose. It made me momentarily sad, because I realize people who can’t communicate well must give up so often in life. All of us can probably recall a time or two when we’ve repeated something two or three times, and then just given up and said Yes.
As she poured his coffee, she then admitted to having forgotten what muffin he asked for, and he replied; “I like blueberry”.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the counter, closer to where I am standing, I witness a totally different man with no similar attributes receive a carrot muffin and begins complaining it is taking forever for his coffee. “Where is my coffee?” he calls, not knowing it has been given to the Bee man. The two were at far ends of the counter from each other, being handled by the same cash woman, scooting back and forth between left and right, with no clue that she was actually dealing with only one order, and two people.
As she hands the old man his coffee and muffin with a friendly smile, expecting that transaction to be complete, he further confuses her by asking for his receipt. She can’t quite figure out why she can’t find it. To him, nothing was wrong, except maybe he’d gotten a coffee instead of the Pepsi he wanted, but otherwise, he didn’t know how to express that he wanted to pay for an order she assumed he’d already paid for.
I stepped in with a smile and explained it all, and we both smiled. You’ve confused this man’s new order with that man’s old order. He’s waiting for this coffee, and this man hasn’t paid. She was embarrassed but nobody knew of the confusion but me, and now her so she cleared it up, took the money and moved on.
Next up was me, and I know the order I make at McDonalds has never been easy. In the early days of my youth, we never got to go to McDonalds, because back then, I always wanted a Quarter Pounder with cheese; PLAIN and at McDonalds in the early 70’s that meant a long wait. Sometimes a very long wait. So much so that Burger King’s entire marketing campaign was about making burgers YOUR WAY… McDonalds was about THEIR WAY.
Although it’s far better these days, and McDonalds has a structure in place for quicker custom orders, the way I like my 1/3 Pound Angus burger still takes some explaining.
I’d like an Angus bacon cheese combo, but I want it with BACON, LETTICE, TOMATO and CHEESE ONLY. This apparently is harder than a train traveling from Chicago math problem for trained McDonald’s counter staff and always takes a while to explain. After 2 years on practice, I never know exactly how they’ll react. You see, the Bacon and Chees Angus doesn’t come with Lettuce and the Supreme Angus comes with lots of other stuff I hate, and no Bacon, so there is no Bacon Angus with cheese and lettuce only. The secret is to order a Bacon Angus with cheese and ADD lettuce and tomato ONLY. I assume there is an only button on their cash system. Usually it works after a 20 second lecture, and I get the right thing.
Today they decided to throw a loop at me and introduce the NEW Angus BBQ burger which I am told has bacon, lettuce and tomato and cheese and a bunch of other stuff. She orders that.
As I wait, I see the bill, and nowhere does it say lattice and tomato so I inquire. “I think this will arrive wrong because it doesn’t say lettuce and tomato ONLY”, as I am accustomed. “No No” she assures me. “This is the new one.”
It arrives. It is wrong. No surprise. No lettuce or Tomato. Plain beef and cheese with bacon.
I simply say; “It has been entertaining today, and you’re to busy and stressed, so I’ll eat this anyway – but I wanted you to know I was right and you were wrong.”
Perhaps that was a touch on the mean cranky customer side of things, and I do understand it’s a hard job.
Rather than be mad… I laughed, ate and wrote a blog about it.
“Oh, that’s a new one” she said. Then, I placed my order, and despite clearly expressing my options, and then telling her straight up clearly that what she had just charged me for would yield in an error when the food arrived, she assured me it would be fine. I tried to say No a third time, but it was clearly a very busy time, and she was flustered already after almost giving away free food… so I waited.
Food arrived, clearly wrong as expected, but not so wrong as to be a problem. I ate it, and filed out the online survey in store, thus receiving a free but useless coupon for a free combo, which I could not print from my cell phone.
I love McDonalds when it provides me so much entertainment. Well worth the admission price.