Tuesday, April 25

Not-So-Great Steak & Potato Co.

My weekly junk food treat yesterday: a cheesesteak sandwich combo. No mayo.

A nice gentleman in line behind me was having his cheesesteak made at the same time-- in front of us, on the grill. The cheesesteak-maker asked the man if he wanted mushrooms. "No," he said. The C-M returned his handful of mushrooms to the bin.

"Mine has mushrooms," I piped up.

"Oh, you too?" he said. "Yes, I ordered the Super Cheesesteak," I replied. (That's mushrooms, onions, and green peppers, plus cheese, lettuce, and tomato, sans mayo.)

He sprinkled mushrooms on mine. Then he asked the man, "Onions?" "Yes please." Man got onions. Then he began reaching for something else . . .

"Excuse me, mine has onions too," I piped up.

He looked at me. "Wait, what did you order?"

"Super Cheesesteak."

He paused to look at the receipt. "You said no mayo," he said triumphantly.

My mouth opened-- and bless the man next to me, he responded for me, scoffing-- "Yeah, no MAYO, not no onions!"

The C-M looked at me dully. "So you want onions." "YES."

He applied onions. The man and I exchanged looks. I said, "His first day?" The man said, "That's what I'm thinking."

C-M reached for the peppers . . . yup, Man got his. Mine did not. Man championed me: "Hers gets peppers too!"

"But she said no mayo!" the C-M said again. The Man looked at me, aghast. I assured him, "This happens to me all the time. Don't worry."

I turned to the C-M. "I want EVERYTHING except mayo. I PAID for peppers, I want peppers."

My sandwich got its peppers. The man looked at me. "They're not usually this bad. They usually have a different crew."

I laughed. "It's my karma. I even blog this stuff. I'm sorry you're stuck behind me!" He laughed.

The C-M began to apply my sandwich to bread, now fully cooked. The Man said, "Where's her cheese?" C-M stared for a second and said, "Cheese too?"

We just started laughing like crazy. I got the cheese. He handed me the sandwich. Man said to me, "Did you want lettuce and tomato, too?" I shook my head. "I give up." During the ordeal, my mall buddy had already gotten her Sbarro's and was half done with her pizza.

However, the second employee informed me, "Oops. No fries. I'll put them in right now." He dumped a batch into the deep fryer. Oh whee. "How long?" I asked. "One minute," he said.

I stood there and tapped my foot. Man was also waiting for fries. I looked over my shoulder and saw my friend was sitting patiently, empty plate in front of her.

I looked at my watch. 4 minutes had passed. "Hey, you think those fries burned three minutes ago?" I called. The employee took them out of the fryer. "They're fine," he said.

However, they were Cajun fries, not the plain ones I'd ordered.

I cut my losses as usual. As I accepted the fries, I heard a woman joining us at the grill informing C-M, "Everything, except mayo on the side." I cracked up. "Good luck with that mayo thing," I told her.

Forget contentious political elections. The real disenfranchised population of the United States are we the mayo haters!

Saturday, April 15

Outsourcing Disservice

My husband told me that McDonald's is piloting a new program in some of its "restaurants," wherein drive-thru patrons are actually connected to a central customer service location that takes the order and sends it back to the appropriate McD's location, rather than give anyone at the actual restaurant a headset. I find this to be equally breathtakingly promising and incredibly scary.

On one hand, I might actually be saved from experiences like the one I had last week. I ordered a #10 combo (fish sandwich) with no tartar sauce. Wising up, I was not deceived by the "Special Order" sticker on the box, and actually inspected my food before leaving the drive-thru. Good thing, because my sandwich was swimming in tartar sauce, though it lacked cheese.

"Excuse me," I said, catching the woman's attention. "This has tartar sauce. I ordered it without."

She frowned. "He [the guy at Window #1, who actually took my order] said 'only cheese.'"

Uhhhh . . . "That's right. ONLY cheese means YES cheese, NO tartar sauce."

When I got my replacement, it had only HALF a slice of cheese . . . as though they'd ripped off the uncontaminated half from my original sandwich and salvaged it. I chose to consider it a diet sandwich and drove off.

So, anyway, perhaps if I had a highly-trained McDonald's menu specialist in a cushy chair in a cubicle somewhere in Oak Brook, Illinois, things might go better.

On the other hand, I could repeat the outsourcing experience I recently had with Delta Airlines. I admit it, it was my fault. I purposely confused the hell out of the automated phone tree to speak with a warm body. And then I had the temerity to ask for TWO price quotes-- my destination airport was flexible, either Cincinnati or Dayton would have worked for me. But Ms. Delta Specialist really had a hard time understanding that I could fly to EITHER airport; she kept giving me a quote for BOTH. As in, Baltimore to Dayton to Cincinnati.

I tried to spell it out. Nicely. I swear. But then she asked what airport I wanted to fly into once I left Ohio. I said, "Round trip." She said, "But what airport?" I said, "ROUND TRIP. Back home." "I don't understand."

No, really. She said that. I asked if I could speak with a representative who DID understand. Silence. "Okay," I tried, "See, when I go on vacation, I leave my home in Baltimore, but my home stays right where it is. So when I fly BACK HOME, I want to fly BACK TO BALTIMORE."

No wonder Delta's going under. (And, for the record, I went with United. They were also $600 cheaper. No joke.)

And that is why I am both intrigued and terrified at the prospect of outsourcing disservice.