16 October 2007

Too Much Of A Good Thing?

Tonight was McDonald's Night for Avery's school . . a bunch of the teachers "work" at the local Mickey D's and in return the restaurant donates 15% of its sales to the school. It's a nice thought, the kind of charitable idea I was presented with over and over again when I ran restaurants. Most of the time we'd put a hundred hours or so into promoting the event, only to be let down heartily by the results. It was nice to help out, good for the restaurant company's image in the community, and a feel-good moment, but that's where the positives ended.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that wasn't the case at our local McDonalds tonight. The promotion was scheduled to last from 5 until 8, and when we got there at 5:45 it was literally standing room only. Seriously, there were kids sitting outside on the sidewalk eating their Happy Meals. My money says tonight was the busiest night in that McD's history. My confidence in that wager is based not only on my vast restaurant experience (can you see my shit-eatin grin?), but also on the fact that at least 3 different parents I talked to tonight didn't even know that McDonald's existed before yesterday, when their kids came home and begged to go there. I was pretty sure I knew where it was . . but I'll be honest, it wasn't until we were about 30 yards from the turn and the Arches popped out from behind a hedge that I was 100% sure. After all, it's one of those stores that's half of a gas station. The other 364 days of the year they stay busy cleaning up their restrooms after the travelers who've stopped to fill up their tanks and dump their previous fast-food trash in their trash cans. Their employees certainly had never experienced anything like this. The look on the 17 year-old cashier's face was priceless, like a cross between a deer in the headlights and Avery when she doesn't get her math homework . . tears, fear, and adrenaline. That girl's gonna be having the "Waiter-in-the-weeds" dream for like a month.

It's interesting to observe how different types of people act in settings like this. Without stereotyping, you can just tell by looking at some people how they'll behave . . there's the dad in the suit with the 4 different communication devices on his belt who's getting to the restaurant about the same time as we did. He tactfully sells his 2 kids on the fact that dinner there is going to take too long, and convinces them that they shouldn't stay. He's too busy to spend time with his kids every other day of the week, too. Then there's the Kindergarten teacher who's standing in the geographic center of about 125 kids, in charge of passing out treats and prizes, who all the while can make small talk with all the parents and just smile the whole time. Consider what she does every day and this isn't a stretch at all . ."just a walk in the park Kozanski".

Then my favorite is the mom at the cash register as I'm coming back to retrieve our food. I took the girls to our table to get them settled (tables were not easy to come by, we would have been out on the sidewalk were it not for a friend's generosity) and when I returned to the counter the manager was auctioning off our food. I reached across to grab our tray from the counter, and as I did so I was chided with an "Excuse Me!" that sounded like it should have been followed by a "Z Snap". I glanced only briefly enough to cower and apologize, but the picture certainly fit the words. My guess is that she's a DMV employee or something, spending all day getting worked up about who's not standing behind the yellow line. She had the requisite hideous 12-year-old brown pantsuit and Tina Turner hair to match the "Watch Your Manners" attitude. I mean seriously . . there were about 200 people in this restaurant who's capacity was 78 (yes, I checked), there are 8-year-olds running and yelling everywhere and yet she felt it necessary to call me out on a simple lean-and-reach? Maybe she was worried that with my arm in the way the cashier wouldn't hear her ask for extra special sauce on her Big Mac . . heaven forbid. As I walked away, I heard her tell her daughter that this was "just too crowded, and we shoulda just gone somewhere else" at a volume about 60% higher than it needed to be, no doubt so that everyone within earshot could witness her disgust and inconveniencing at the hands of these commoners . . I'm a government employee for goodness sake, I deserve better than this. Bitch.

Anyway, in this case I definitely think the Mickey D's got too much of a good thing. While I'm sure they're grateful for the sales bump, they won't be happy when that cashier quits tonight at the end of her shift. Six twenty-five an hour just ain't enough to put up with that kind of chaos.

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