Tag Archives: fast food

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I recently faced a dilemma of character and reprisal at a fast- food restaurant while traveling with my daughter to her college after a holiday.

I am typically an easy-going person who doesn’t look for conflict but this situation got under my skin and I had to really hold back and put my impulse aside.

We were traveling south and had made it through a very rough leg of our journey involving ice-covered roads.

Tired and hungry, we pulled into the burger place and placed our order. My daughter went to find a table as I waited for the food.

The cashier placed a tray for our order on the counter, and then another family came in behind us and placed their order.

A tray for their order was placed on the counter next to mine and then things got dicey.

The girl filling the order began to load our tray.

She placed our orders of French fries on our tray and the dad from the other family proceeded to pick a few fries from my order!

And before I could say anything, one of his kids followed suit!

I was flabbergasted!

I stepped forward and said, “Hey that’s my order.”

The dad was caught off guard and he kind of chuckled and half-heartedly apologized.

I am sure he was a bit uncomfortable but he blew it off like it was not a big deal.

The rest of my order was filled and I quickly picked it up and found my daughter.

I was sort of fuming inside and not happy with my low-key reaction and how I handled the situation.

I’m unsure if I relayed what happened to my daughter, but by this time the French fry-stealing family had gotten their food and were sitting at a table near us.

They owed me.

They owed me a few fries, and then some.

I sat there and wondered if I should do something. Say something else. Get the last word in.

I got up and walked over to their table and reached in and took some fries from their tray and stuck them in my mouth.

They all looked at me in shock, and then the dad got up and said, “What the hell is that about?! I said I was sorry. It was an honest mistake!”

I took few more fries for good measure. I waited for a blow to my face but nothing happened.

Actually none of it happened.

These were some thoughts and images running through my mind as I sat there letting my food get cold.

I looked over to their table and it was a nice family and if I did what I was thinking, it would only make everyone miserable and ruin our meals.

There were also more of them than just my daughter and I.

So I put a cork in my rage and let it go, and I ate my lunch.

I still had many hours of driving ahead and we didn’t want anything stupid like a fight over a few French fries to ruin our trip.

But maybe I should have taken one fry — just one — to make a point.

Hush Puppies Are Up!

I remember when my cousin worked at Kentucky Fried Chicken to earn money while in college.

His mom would make him come through a different entrance to the house because he reeked so badly.

I remember thinking: “Ewwwwww! Gross!”

Yeah, well thou without stench, cast the first chicken thigh into the fryer.

Fast-forward and it’s my senior year in high school and I’m desperately looking for a job. A classmate was working at Arthur Treacher’s Fish & Chips.

Through him, I got a job working as a fry cook and a bus boy.

Neither job was especially attractive. But since misery loves company, I got my buddy Pedro a job there.

Pairing us up to work was maybe not the smartest thing the managers ever did.

One night I was showing Pedro how to “recycle” the oil.  At closing, we would trot out this rectangular metal gadget. We would open up a spigot, the oil would pour into the machine’s reservoir, and then it would filter the grit and we would direct the recycled oil back into the fryer.

I had Pedro laughing so hard about some tomfoolery during this operation that, when the oil splashed, it landed on his tongue because his mouth was wide open while laughing.

Did I mention the oil was still hot?

Being fry cook was bad (your hair was matted with oil, your pores filled with batter and you stank) but being clean-up person was worse.

Mopping and cleaning tables was not so bad. But woe unto you if you worked a Sunday night and had to bring garbage to the curb for pick-up the next day.

There was a room – yes, literally a room – filled floor to ceiling with a week’s worth of rotting restaurant garbage. The farther you had to reach into the room to retrieve the garbage, the worse it got. There were roaches in there the size of pigeons and they were just as obnoxious.

Somehow I got promoted to manager of the restaurant on Bartow Avenue in the Bronx, a not-particularly great neighborhood.

How not particularly great was it?

The first night I showed up for work, my assistant manager, Javier (a short, funny Puerto Rican dude with a fro, dead-caterpillar mustache and a fuzzy goatee) pointed to pockmarks in the large steel-door freezers.

“You see these?” he asked. “These are from bullets.”

I lasted maybe nine months. All in all, I look back on my time there as a worthwhile growth experience that helped prepare me for work challenges later in life.

By the way, do you want chips with that?

Photo courtesy of http://kathythompson.wordpress.com