Monday, June 28, 2010

Relax, It's Just McDonald's

I was in a McDonald's during a particularly busy breakfast rush recently. The teenagers behind the counter were hopping along as fast as they could, but it seemed that, for every order filled, two more customers came in. I was anxiously awaiting my sausage biscuits that were to go along with my large black coffee when my ear caught a snippet of conversation. A rather haggard looking lady was grousing about how, when ordering her meal from McDonald's the day before, it took nearly ten minutes for her burgers to show up.

"And they didn't even apologize.", she bellowed to the man next to her, loud enough for the folks behind the counter to hear her complaining, which was the point. Her companion was emphatically nodding, indicating his frustration at having to wait a little longer for his food.

I couldn't handle the passive-aggressive bitch session any longer and spoke up before I could stop myself. "If you got such crappy service last night, why the hell are you here again this morning?", I asked. The lady looked at me, dumbfounded. It was as if I had set off a logic bomb in her brain. "If this is the worst thing you have to deal with during the course of the day, you're doing pretty well.", I continued. "You'd do well to keep that thought in the back of your mind".

Still no response. She glared at me as if her brain had gone into maintenance mode to check for bad sectors. While her mental faculties were busily cleaning up unindexed entries, her friend chimed in angrily at me. "And you would do well to move out of the way. You're holding up an order line". He was right. While waiting for my food, I had stepped aside into the domain of a register that, while unoccupied when I first got there, had opened up right when I turned to confront the bitchy lady. I stepped aside. Problem solved. Just then, my order came up. I inhaled the decadent aroma of the greasy goodness and made a melodramatic face at the angry couple.

"I hope they spit in your breakfast burrito", I said as I walked off.

My point here is that I never understood the need certain people have to bitch when it turns out that their fast food doesn't arrive as fast as they expect it to. If you can't handle waiting a few extra minutes for your Big Mac, why not go home and make one yourself? Well, a recent study determined that just looking at the logos of fast-food companies can trigger behavior associated with expectations from the brand -- namely immediate gratification, even if that means getting something that isn't as good as what you could get by waiting longer. "Fast food seemed to have made made people impatient in a manner that could put their economic interest at risk," concludes the study, from the University of Toronto.

So, when we order our burgers, we want them NOW. And if we don't get them within our the expected time limit we're more apt to bitch about it. In the end, though, the couple I confronted were bitching about McDonald's, which is pretty pathetic in the grand scheme of things. Now, if we had been at a Burger King, and those delicious double cheeseburgers hadn't shown up on time, that would be something worth bitching about.

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