Saturday, July 07, 2007

Another Sandwich Story

"O wad some Power the giftie gie us, Tae see oursels as ithers see us! It wad frae mony a blunder free us, An’ foolish notion" ~ Robert Burns

Lone Ranger posted a humorous story today which reminded me of an interesting incident that happened to me once, many years ago, when the earth was cooling. So, I thought I'd depart from the usual political, moral outrage kind of blog entry and tell this true story:

My first wife and I went to a McDonalds for lunch. She found a place for us to sit and told me what she wanted to est, a fish sandwich with cheese and a pickle on it, and I went to the counter to place our order.

Try to imagine my surprise when the counter person informed me that they couldn't sell me a fish sandwich with a pickle. They said they weren't allowed to place a pickle on a fish sandwich.

"Why?" I asked. At this point, I am merely curious. It makes no difference to me whether her fish sandwich is made to her specific specifications or not. But, admittedly, I was mildly chagrined that this seemingly innocuous request should be denied.

"It's just not the way we make them", I was told.

No other explanation.

"You can't put a pickle on a fish sandwich". I repeated, and then, "You can't put a pickle on a fish sandwich?... Why can't you make them that way?"

"It's the rules."

I then proceeded to ask the same question ten different ways, and the only answer I got was, "It's the rules."

"Why is it the rules?" I was getting heated.

"I don't know," answered the counter person.

"Let me speak to your manager", I demanded.

Shortly, the manager appeared, and it was clear he had been prepped in advance to deal with an unreasonable customer. "How can I help you?" he asked, a little too sweetly.

I tried very hard to control my temper, as I intoned, "This person is trying to tell me McDonalds isn't allowed to put pickles on fish sandwiches."

The manager smiled grimly. I've read that phrase in cheap paperbacks before, but I must confess I'd never really understood how one could "smile grimly" until this moment. "That's correct" , he said, then placed his body in a defensive position, probably in expectation of a physical confrontation.

"Why?" I said again, for the hundredth time, "Why can't McDonalds put a pickle on a fish sandwich?"

"Sir, McDonalds is a corporation whose success is dependent on very specific ways of preparing the product, which maximises the marketability of the McDonalds product. If we were to change the things that make our company successful, it could seriously impair our ability to stay in business" , he explained, and then added, helpfully, "We can sell you our regular fish sandwich and put a pickle on the side for you."

Ignoring the now obvious and flawless logic of why McDonalds refuses to capitulate to an irate customer's unreasonable demands, I asked, "If you can put a pickle on the side, why can't you just eliminate the extra step and expense of using up a superfluous paper container by simply putting the pickle on the sandwich?"

"Can't do it. Not allowed. I could literally be fired for breaking the rule. It's kind of like a copyright. If we put a pickle on the fish sandwich we run the risk of infringing on some one else's copyright."

"I won't tell anyone." I was being sincere.

"Nope, sorry."

I changed strategy. "OK. Tell me something. What are you allowed to put on fish sandwiches?"

"Fish, cheese, and tartar sauce. We are allowed to sell fish sandwiches without the cheese or the tartar sauce, but we can't put a pickle on the sandwich."

"What's in the tartar sauce?" I asked, innocently.

"You mean, what's the tartar sauce made of? I'm not completely sure of all the ingredients. I think it's mostly mayonnaise and pickles."

"Then" , I said, triumphantly, "I want you to put tartar sauce on the sandwich, but leave out every ingredient except the pickles."

He hesitated. "I'm sorry, sir..." he began, but apparently found himself at a loss for words. He didn't finish the thought.

"OK", I caved. "Give me the sandwich with the pickle on the side."

I took the order to our table and an impatient angry first wife, and sat down fuming.

First wife asked, "What took you so long?"

I answered her, but that's a whole other chapter in the story.


Dan Trabue said...

You know my new favorite fast food outrage? Those places where you go and ask for a small drink and then are informed, "I'm sorry, sir, we only have medium, large and big gulp sizes."

In that case, is not the Medium a Small drink?? How can the smallest drink be a Medium??!!

Mark said...

Yep, I've had that conversation with employees before, too.

Mark said...

By the way, the reason this post is entitled "Another Sandwich Story" is because I posted another story
a couple of years ago about another sandwich.

Gayle said...

Okay, Mark, this story has made me curious to know if it was really a rule of McDonald's, or if it was simply a stupid rule made up by a stupid manager, so I'm going to go to McDonald's and order a fish sandwich with a pickle on it the next time I get the chance. It will have to wait until I drive to the city though. We don't have a McDonald's out here.

I'll get back to you with the results... that is if they don't call the cops on me, because this sort of stupidity brings out my temper, and it's not pretty!

Mark said...

I'm pretty sure that with the competition from (have it your way) Burger King, and other burger joints, If it was ever really McDonalds policy, it probably isn't anymore, but go ahead and try it and get back to me, Gayle.

Mary said...

Did you ever see the movie Five Easy Pieces?

Your story reminds me of Jack Nicholson trying to place his order and have it his way.

Gayle said...

I will try it Mark, I promise. And I hate pickles! LOL!

You may be right regarding competition making them drop their stupid rule, but it will be interesting to find out. I like fish sandwiches and I can always remove the pickle. :)

Gayle said...

In addition, I have to go to Temple on Monday, so we won't have to wait long. :)

Francis Lynn said...

Do it this way next time - Go into McDonald's & ask for a pickle. Then ask that the pickle be wrapped in a fish sandwich. The way the illogic of some corporate policies runs, this back-door approach woud probably work.

Trader Rick said...

Mark, I think you're way off base on this one. If that manager had worked for me, I would have congratulated him on the way he handled it. He showed remarkable poise and intelligence (or good training) for a fast food jock, dealing with a difficult customer. The pickle on the side was the perfect solution. One of the reasons we go to these fast food joints, is that we know, wherever we are, be it Bippus, Indiana or Balderdash, Algeria, that the food will be exactly the same: we know what to expect. And if it ain't broke, don't fix it. If you want custom made sandwiches go to that place where they do it "your way". But don't go to Mickey D's and expect to get the best French Fries in the world without plenty of sugar and salt and grease...This episode reminds me of the movie where Jack Nicholson wants toast, but it's not on the menue, so he ends up ordering a tunafish sandwich on toast, hold the tuna, hold the mayo, then ends up shooting up the place or something like that!

Marshall Art said...

"Falling Down", starring Michael Douglas and Robert Douval(sp) wherein the Douglas character, holding a gym bag full of weapons taken from a gang-banger, enters a Mickey D's type restaurant to order their "Egg McMuffin". But they don't sell breakfast after 11:00AM. It's now 11:05AM but they won't yield. Douglas pulls out an automatic weapon and sprays the ceiling. I have to remember to put Falling Down on my favorite movies list. It's a great movie.

mudkitty said...

Same with the bible. Etc.

mudkitty said...

Show me, in the bible, btw, where pre-marital sex is prohibited. Admittedly off topic.

Marie's Two Cents said...

I cant help but think maybe if you had taken her to Burger King, you two still might be married lol.

Then again maybe not :-)

Ms.Green said...

Your story reminds me of the woman who went in to a fast food restaraunt and ordered a burger with minimal lettuce, and was told "I'm sorry ma'am, we only carry iceburg."

On a side note for mudkitty, who said "Show me, in the bible, btw, where pre-marital sex is prohibited. Admittedly off topic.

In Bible terms, they call it fornication. How many verses do you want?

Jason H. Bowden said...

Falling Down rules. I love the road construction scene!

Marshall Art said...

For sure, Jason. I love at the end when the Douglas character asks in amazement, "I'm the bad guy?" What a great film!

Erudite Redneck said...

My worst McDonald's story is ordering a fish sandwich for my Baby Bird and bringing it home to her; she spirits it away, with her drink and fries; she comes out of her room a few minutes later, eyes big and blinky, holding the sandwich box, which held only some kind of overcooked, unidentifiable piece of battered a deep-fried meat, no bun, no nothing else. Weird.

Dan Trabue said...

Mark: Don't post this here, it's just a heads up on an unrelated topic.

I suppose you saw the latest news:

Regarding another Republican being associated with the DC Madam that you confidently said would out a bunch of Democrats? You prepared to back off your original post yet or do you plan on keep waiting for the Dems to start falling, too?

Mark said...

Not at all, Dan. You may remember that I predicted that little would be heard about any Democrats on the list. Here's a refresher, direct from that post:

"On the Democratic side, little will be reported on, and those that are named will be excused for any and all misconduct on the grounds that they have done nothing illegal, or at least, nothing that amounts to anything more than a misdemeanor."

It very likely is exactly as I predicted. There may indeed be many Democrats on that list, but the press won't report it. It doesn't fit in their agenda.

The only way to know for certain just how many Dems vs. Republicans are on the list is to have every name on the list made public, not just a select fes. Agree?

If there are more Democrats than Republicans listed, the press won't report it.

Dan Trabue said...

"If there are more Democrats than Republicans listed, the press won't report it."

Right. Because the press is merely a flack for the Democrats. They wouldn't love to report that sort of breaking news to help them sell newspapers. Not the "liberal" press nor the "conservative" press, which has just as much access to the news of the day as the "liberal" press.

It's all one big conspiracy, you suspect?

Henry said...

My favorite was my buddy in high school who would go to McD's, order fries with no salt (thus causing them to fry a fresh batch), and then ask for salt when the fires were served up.


Erudite Redneck said...

Re, "the press won't report it. It doesn't fit in their agenda."

You are a Nothing Sandwich, Mark.

Gayle said...

Reporting back: It seems McDonalds no longer minds putting pickles on a fish sandwich. Actually I asked for one pickle and got three! No, I didn't complain about it. I hate pickles and wasn't going to eat them anyway. I gave them to hubby who loves them.

So, now we don't know whether the rules have been changed, or if it's only the person who fixed the sandwich who didn't know the rules, or the manager of that particular McDonalds isn't paying attention to the rules. :)

Timothy said...

Hi Mark,
I love your story. It really is funny and shows the absurdity of some of the rules. Thanks for sharing it...

mom2 said...

I saw on tv that Larry Flynt is taking credit for exposing Vitter. When has he ever done the same for a Democrat?