Saturday, March 22, 2008

Around the world with McDonald's...
Something to think about next time YOU use the drive-thru...

I chatted tonight with a friend I haven't talked to in years. She was the first person I'd ever chatted with, back in 1999! I don't do chat rooms, and I don't have the Yahoo Messenger or the AOL Instant-message thing...if you have those things, you're vulnerable to people sending you viruses while chatting, and I just don't wanna put up with any more spam and I definitely don't need 487 keylogging devices tracking everything I'm typing. So I just don't do that stuff. However, Yahoo now has their super-deluxe e-mail that features instant-messaging thru the e-mail. Now, didn't either Yahoo or Microsoft, a while back, try to take over each other or something? I ask, because the New Yahoo Mail (which I'm still getting used to) looks an awful lot like Hotmail all of a sudden...and it kinda looks like Outlook Express, too. I don't know...I invest enough of my mental marbles just answering e-mails...let alone e-mails plus the added option of chatting from the in-box. Just Another Option Designed To Drive Me Insane. Anyway, now to the McDonald's part...

In the midst of my friend and I catching up, she told me she works for a company that handles drive-thru orders for McDonald's. "What?" I told her that didn't make sense...I mean, you drive up to the drive-thru speaker, you place your order, you drive forward 10 feet, give 'em your money; drive another 10 feet, git yer order, and then, zoom, you're outta there. You have to drive out fast 'cos you don't want to have anyone you know become aware that you actually EAT at McDonalds', after all. Well, my friend told me that in some markets, (one of them is here in Oregon), you can pull up to the McDonald's speaker sign, bark in your order, and someone in, say, one of the midwestern states will take your order, and then send the order BACK to the McDonald's that you're ordering at.

HUH? WHAT?????? And, get this: allegedly, doing it this way is supposed to actually be faster and more efficient than if a clerk 20 feet from where your car is presently sitting takes yer order. You're giving your order to someone a thousand miles away from you who relays that order BACK to the McDonald's where your car is sitting, spewing all kinds of gas fumes into the air, just idling away at zero miles-per-gallon. (After all, your car doesn't move when you idle. Hopefully, that is.) Believe me, I know what this feels like. I've spent hot summertime late afternoons In Line At A McDonalds' Drive-Thru, when I and everyone else got off work, waiting ages to get a burger I'd consume in ten minutes, with enough calories to last a lifetime.

But back to the "faster/more efficient" thing...I used to frequent a McDonald's early in the morning before my Cab Shift began. I'd go in there at 6 in the morning, and ALREADY the manager was yelling at the counter-people, the counter-people were yelling at each other, customers in the drive-thru were yelling into the speaker and counter-people were bumping into each other trying to get the orders filled, going to the stock room to get more of whatever had run out, and zooming all over the place, in and out of restrooms and the customer service area, trying to keep the place clean, while listening to their manager yelling at them because they weren't moving fast enough or working efficiently enough, and let me remind you, this was at 6 in the morning, which I suppose pretty much set the tone for the rest of the day. You see all of those smiling, fresh rosy-cheeked faces of the counter-workers on the McDonalds' sure ain't that way in REAL LIFE. It's ironic that McDonalds' serves what they call a "Happy" meal, since 75% of their workforce is disgruntled. Where's Ronald McDonald when you need him?

Maybe talking to drive-thru customers was the only tiny, small, infetismal meager pleasure that working at a McDonald's provided. Well, that's now been taken away. After all, much as being on a cell-phone, even a hands-free contraption, will interfere with your driving, taking customer orders and talking to them on a hands-free headset, I suppose, interferes with the speed and efficacy that a low-profit, git-em-in and git-em out operation (such as is Every Single McDonalds' On The Face Of The Earth) needs in order to get their vats of soybean-laden pseudo-burgers and french fries that taste like fiberglass insulation to their customers, who are also in the process of hurrying, hurrying, hurrying to whatever it is they are driving themselves crazy doing. It is cheaper, as McDonalds' sees it (at least in some markets) to give a customer order to someone thousands of miles away, only to have them instantly relay it back to a monitor screen at a franchise's counter, than for An Actual On-Premises Counter Worker to talk to said customer.

My friend said that "McDonald's pretty-much trusts us to relay the orders." My comment was "Well, Yeah!" And then I told her how silly I thot this whole McDonalds' thing is. Giving your order of a "McCholesterol" soybean-laden pseudo-burger (two pickles, sauce, cheese, crisco on a reconstituted low-grade white-bread bun with decorator sesame seeds designed not to grow) to someone halfway across the nation who inputs that order is NUTS. (Do you want fries with that?) Of course, you might be nuts for ordering it in the first place. And then it hit me. I came to the realization that I am the biggest-ever hypocrite to walk on the face of this earth. After all, whenever I'm having computer problems, I call Hewlett-Packard customer service, and talk to some guy in Bombay, INDIA, who I can barely understand. But I never thot I'd live to see the day when Fast Food is outsourced. Wow. All I know is, if McDonalds' workers move any faster ("efficiency" is always a nebulous thing), the Customer will end up getting his food Before He Orders It. Another reason I'm a hypocrite is 'cos I LOVE the Sausage-Egg McMuffin. And if a Mickey D's is ever built closer to my house, I'm in trouble. My cholesterol count will probably quadruple in a week.

You know what's scary about this whole deal? If Mickey D's (or anyone else's, I guess) computer-food-order-relay system is being done "wireless", sooner or later, everyone on Planet Earth with the proper signal-receiving equipment will know what you're having for lunch. Stop the world. I want to get off.


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