Why I Miss John Pinette
It was a minor cluster-f%@& at the McDonald’s drive-thru this morning.
I try to avoid getting breakfast at McDonald’s, but I knew I was out of granola at work, and wouldn’t be going to the grocery store until tonight at the earliest. So I made sure I had a fiver and a single in my shirt pocket before leaving the house, and 50 minutes later I had dropped off my wife, driven through and past to the opposite side of our state’s Capitol city, to the McD’s nearest my office by 06:37 (which tends to be just before the morning rush at that one).
First clue that there would be trouble: the first car in line was at the rearward (of two) order screens, with no cars visible in front of them (most particularly, not at the forward order screen. I was 3rd in line at this point.
Second clue: the 2nd car in line had left nearly a full car-length gap in front of her.
Third clue: once the 1st car moved, the 2nd car veeeeeerrrryy slowly crept forward. Can’t (or didn’t) read the sign, and did not pull up to the forward ordering screen. Sheesh.
Fourth clue: car in front of me is way wide of the curb and order screen. They have to shout to hear each other simply because of the extra distance. It’s taking unusually long (with so much gesturing and shouting). But after merely 3x or 4x the typical amount of time for a sole vehicle occupant to order, she pulls forward and around the corner. The 1st car is still at the 1st window, probably because the person at that window was so busy dealing with the 2nd car that they haven’t begun the monetary transaction yet.
Fifth clue: as I’m rolling by the rearward order screen to the vacant forward order screen, I hear a voice say “Does that complete your order?” Oh boy. Well I get to the forward screen, after a brief wait they ask for my order. “Number 2, Medium Coffee, Black.” Her voice replies, “That’ll be Five Thirty-Three at the first window.” Quick and simple.
Sixth clue: After the first guy finally pulls away from the first window, the woman in front of me slowly creeps forward, again staying very wide from the curb (at least 1.75 meters, maybe 2m, from McD’s window to Toyota Camry window). More gesturing and explaining. Some COINS are handed to the McD’s woman. More gesturing and explaining. The COINS are handed BACK to the Camry woman. The McD’s woman closes the window and disappears.
2… 3… 4… 5… 10… 15… 20 seconds or so later, Camry gestures and pulls forward. First guy has left the forward window with his breakfast.
Seventh clue: different guy at first window, asks me “Four Seventy-Nine?” I respond, “Nope, I’m Five Thirty-Three. Number 2, Medium Coffee.” I hand him exact change, speeding things up just a little.
No longer counting clues, it’s officially a cluster-f%@&. Now I’m waiting behind the Camry at the forward window, though she’s scooched a little closer this time. It looks and sounds like she’s only just now placing her order, to a McD’s manager I’ve seen a hundred times, and whose English is so-so (but I get by OK because I can speak a little Spanish, and I don’t place complicated orders). The cajoling and gesturing goes on for nearly a minute, then she hands him her Visa card.
Another minute goes by, nobody re-appears at the pickup window. Camry woman gestures a big “I don’t know what’s going on” sort of thing, and drives away. Without her Visa card.
I pull up to the pickup window, and the same guy who had replaced the original gal at the pay window is now at the pickup window, and he asks, “Two Sausage Biscuits and a Hash Brown?” I reply “Nope, Number 2, Medium Coffee, Black.” But the poor guy is not at the register configured for orders, he’s at the screen configured for meal delivery. So he’s got nothing in front of him that says “Number 2.”
We finally clarify that a Number 2 is a Sausage McMuffin, With Egg.
“No hash browns?”
“Number Two – a combo meal – of course it has hash browns.”
“Oh. Sorry. Of course. Coffee, with Cream?”
“No. Medium Coffee, Black.” He turns around to pour a fresh coffee. Then as he hands it to me, he’s apologizing, and I’m reassuring him that it’s not his fault, “No, no, it’s not you, it was her. She screwed up everything.”
After I drive away with my meal (after double-checking everything is correct at long last), I suddenly get a pang that the McD’s guy might think I was criticizing the female McD’s team-member who first had to deal with Camry woman. The poor gal. Uff-da.
I got around to the front of the building, and the drive thru line now blocks the street, and then some. It’s at least 8 cars deep. I see no sign of the Camry in the parking lot. Again, uff-da.
Welcome to the USA, but regardless of how long you’ve been here…
If you have a complex order, “Get out of line!” as John Pinette would say. Don’t tie up the Drive Thru at morning rush. Go inside. That’s where you talk to the manager about the problem you had yesterday and your claim that they owe you a Coffee for free, or whatever it was.
If your English isn’t strong enough to deal with the horribly shitty audio quality of the McD’s Drive Thru order system, “Get out of line!” and go inside where you can point and nod at a picture menu.
If you’re so new to driving that you can’t pull up within earshot of the Drive Thru order system, “Get out of line!” and go inside.
If you’re so easily flustered that you’ll drive away and leave your Visa card behind, don’t leave home without (or with) it. Just don’t leave home alone. At all. I sympathize, and wish you happiness and prosperity in this great country. I hope you can find someone to bring you to McDonalds, help you order inside, and have breakfast with you. And I hope you get your Visa card back. But really… you’re not ready for the breakfast rush… Get out of line.