In theory, I have no problem with McDonald’s “extra value” meals (read: twice the death at half the price) but that does not mean I ALWAYS want an extra value meal. Call me crazy, but (whoa, that was fast) sometimes I just want a hamburger and a Coke. And maybe a mouth-scarring apple pie as an after. Sadly, this seemingly simple desire seems to cause great difficulties wherever I go. I am beginning to think I would gladly do away with the extra value meal concept if it meant avoiding this conversation:
Nite Owl: “Hi there, how’s it going?”
Nite Owl: “Ok, then, I’d like to place an order TO go, but not an extra value meal…”
Clerk: A number TWO? Extra value meal? (pushes some buttons)
Nite Owl: Uh, no… TO GO, but NOT an extra value meal.
Clerk: *GRUNT* (pushes some “undo” buttons, disgustedly)
Nite Owl: Right then, I’d like a hamburg… (barely gets to finish the word)
Clerk: ONE HAMBUGER! ANYTHING ELSE?
(Sound of final receipt printing: CHA-CHUNK-CHA-CHUNK-CHA-CHUNK-BING) 95 cents please!!!
Nite Owl: Uh, yes. A couple more things actually.
Clerk: GRUNT! (Rips up receipt)
Nite Owl: So I’d like one hamburger…
Clerk: A number one extra value meal?
Nite Owl: (Grits teeth to avoid smashing a napkin-holder into the cash register)
NOOOOOOO… just a hamburger and…
Clerk: With cheese?
Nite Owl: What?
Clerk: Do you want cheese on your hamburger?
Nite Owl: (Fighting back urge to tell clerk that a hamburger with cheese is actually a cheeseburger, until he realizes that some idiot costumers probably DO complain that they wanted their “hamburger” with cheese after the fact.)
No THANKS, just a HAMBURGER.. with uh, just plain, I guess. Nothing on it. And a small Diet Coke… (again, barely gets to finish sentence)
Clerk: HAMBURGER AND A MEDIUM DIET COKE. ANYTHING ELSE? (starts printing receipt: CHA-CHUNK-CHA-CHUNK-CHA-CHUNK-CHA-CHUNK-CHA-CHUNK-CHA-CHUNK-CHA-BING!!!)
Nite Owl: Wait… wait!!! A medium Diet Coke? I said a small.
Clerk: We don’t have small anymore, just medium, large, and oil tanker size.
Nite Owl: You realize that makes no sense right? You realize that you can’t have “medium” if there is no small, right?
Clerk: (Eyes glaze over, like grease-coated McDonald’s fries glistening in the sun)
Nite Owl: Forget it! Medium is fine. I also want an apple pie FOR dessert.
Clerk: A number FOUR? Extra value meal?
Nite Owl: NO! Not a number four! A hamburger, a Diet Coke, and an apple pie! Can’t I say anything that phonetically resembles a number without your extra-value sensor going off???
I’ve got to get home by FIVE, you know?
Clerk: What did you say?
Nite Owl: I said I have to get home by FIVE!
Nite Owl: Five. FIVE!!!
Clerk: OH! He’s our shortstop!
So you can clearly see my lack of fondness for the “extra value” concept. It’s enough to almost (repeat, ALMOST) scare any sanity-loving man off of artery-obstructing sodium-enriched food for life.
And for what it’s worth, the first time this happened, when I got home I discovered that my “plain” hamburger (with no cheese) was SO plain that it had no ketchup, pickles or shredded onion either. It was just a lonely, forlorn beef patty stranded on a McDonald’s bun.
Apparently, if you don’t walk into McDonald's and simply shout, “NUMBER THREE! LARGE! TO GO! WITH A COKE!” then you are seriously jeopardizing your chances of getting anything that even remotely resembles what you asked for. Of course, you’re still going to get a stale fish fillet or two that you didn’t want, and a couple of items will be missing completely… hell, that’s a given… but at least your order will be in the BALLPARK, and you’ll avoid the long, drawn-out vaudeville routine with the counter help.
It’s not that McDonald’s workers CAN’T take an order properly, it’s just that many times they’re either disinterested or rushing because they’ve got so many damn people to serve. I worked in fast food for eight years, and can tell you it’s not a pleasant job; it can really wear you down. Believe it or not, I’m a bit more patient than most customers when it comes to fast food service. But come on. Even I have my limits.
If things keep going this way, I may end up recruiting a bunch of my friends to dress up in costumes that represent my order. You know, like the old “Let’s All Go to the Lobby” guys from the movies, only with a McDonald’s theme. Steve can be the burger, Jon can be the hot apple pie, and I’ll be the Coke, and we’ll all just dance in the door and sashay right up to the counter. Who knows? Visual aids could be just the ticket to getting me what I want. Either that, or we'll end up getting our teeth kicked in by both the staff and customers. I say it's worth the risk! Besides, Jon dresses up as a hot apple pie on the weekends, so it wouldn’t be a big stretch for him anyway.
I don’t WANT to go to such extreme lengths, but it may ultimately come down to that. After all, trying to get a burger and a Coke isn’t supposed to be so stressful it clogs your arteries more than the meal itself.