His and Hers is a weekly discussion of a question or topic relating
my wife and I each write our thoughts on the week’s topic. I invite other bloggers
to do the same with their spouses as an exercise in celebrating marriage. This
week’s question is:
What is the worst experience you have ever had in a
fast food restaurant?
Earlier today, we visited a local restaurant that combines three stores into
one front: Togo’s (sub sandwiches), Baskin Robbins (ice cream), and Dunkin
Donuts (donuts). As we arrived at the counter to order, a young man asked
us what we would like. Mrs.
Happy said she wanted a bowl of chicken and rice
soup. It was the soup of the day, and a sign directly over the counter
declared it the soup of the day, but the young man stared
at us in confusion, as if my wife were speaking an alien language. "Chicken
sandwich?" he asked. "No," she replied, clearly and firmly, "chicken and
rice soup." She
pointed to the sign that said "Soup of the Day: Chicken and Rice." That confused
him even more, and he rushed away from the register to speak to a woman in
the food preparation area (a good 30 feet or 12 meters away).
They conferred for several seconds, then he looked up in our direction and
shook his head, which we took to mean that they had no soup left. He made
no move to
return to the register, and seemed to expect us to move to the counter nearest
So we walked over to him. My wife told him that she would like a chicken
Caesar salad instead. The words "chicken Caesar salad" being part of the same
alien language as "chicken and rice soup," we received another stare of blankness
and vague panic from the man behind the counter. After Mrs. Happy repeated
her order twice more, the young man was able to find his manager and
determine that the chicken Caesar salad was indeed still available, though
he omitted the word "Caesar" every time he spoke of the "chicken salad" we
had ordered—this worried us a little since of the three salads offered by Togo’s,
three were variations of chicken and salad. The manager assembled the
salad, then said, "Okay, well the problem is I only have
some Ranch…" I failed to see why that was a problem since one salad requires
only one packet of dressing, but Mrs. Happy prefers Ranch over Caesar anyway,
so that’s what she got.
The young man took the salad and returned to the bank of cash registers, all
three of which at that time were occupied by customers and cashiers. He handed
the salad to one cashier, mumbled something in her ear while pointing at us,
and walked away. So we stood in line behind people who had arrived after us
and waited. When we finally stood face-to-face with
the cashier, she said, "Okay, that’ll be $6.47." I replied, in a testier-than-usual
tone, "Can I have a sandwich?" This flustered her and incited the same
look of incomprehension and subtle fear that the young man had mastered so
well. She pressed a few random keys
her register, then asked, "What kind of sandwich would you like?" I had decided
on a sandwich called the Bruschetta Chicken Sandwich, which combined roasted
chicken, pesto sauce, marinated tomatoes, and melted provolone cheese on a
toasted bun, so I said, "I’ll have the six-inch Chicken Bruschetta Sandwich."
"Okay. What size?" she asked.
I repeated, "Six-inch."
The posted menu did not include size labels such as small, medium, regular, large, x-large, biggie,
or lard-butt, so
I simply repeated, "Six-inch."
"What do you want on it?"
"What does it come with?"
"Uh…" This stammer was accompanied by the patented Togo’s
stare®. I pointed to the posted menu that described the sandwich I had ordered.
"I want everything it says there," I said.
She nodded as if she finally understood and pressed some keys on the register.
She then said, "Okay, that comes to—" but my wife interrupted her tersely:
"We’d also like some drinks."
Again, we had caught her off guard. "Oh. You want drinks?" she asked
fumbled with the register. Mrs. Happy said, "I’d like a small
swirl latte." The woman asked, "What size?" After a second’s hesitation, Mrs.
Happy responded, "Small." Before she could total everything up, I said, "And
I’d like a small soda." "What kind?" she asked. It was my turn to be caught
off guard. Togo’s is one of those places that has a self-serve fountain for
sodas, and I hadn’t yet examined it to see the choices it offered. I repeated,
"Just a small soda." The woman insisted on clarification, "What kind?" I pointed
to the self-serve fountain and said, "Whatever kind is in that fountain over
there." The Togo’s stare again flashed across her face. "Oh.
I’ll just give you a cup then," she said, finding the perfect solution. I would
later discover that the soda fountain had no ice. I had to get someone behind
the counter to put some
ice in my cup for me.
Fast forward ten minutes. We got our food and we
got our drinks, and we paid nearly $18 for them. As I sat down at a table
and pulled my sandwich out of the carry-out bag (which they gave us
a twelve-inch roasted chicken sandwich. I looked at my receipt and found that
they had charged me $7.50 for the sandwich when I had ordered a $4.95 six-inch
sandwich. Fast forward another five minutes, during which I stood alone at
the cash registers being ignored by the workers. I finally got to talk to a
competent manager who refunded me three dollars and let me keep all 12 inches
I noticed on the menu that adding $1.50 to a sandwich purchase entitled a
customer to a drink and a bag of chips. As I was walking away, I
saw on my receipt that the price of my small soda was
$1.62. I grabbed a bag of chips, ignored the prominently-placed and offensive-to-my-taste
tip jar, and never looked back.
Mrs. Happy’s response
There was one time at Wendy’s that I ordered a "cheeseburger, with lettuce
and cheese only" and received a slice of cheese and a leaf of lettuce between
two buns, with no hamburger patty. But I think the Togo’s experience tops that.