You Deserve To Be Broken Today

« February 2005 »

Memo to our nation's overzealous fast food assistant managers: BACK THE FUCK OFF, SPARKY.

Somebody call a taxonomist - these guys are rapidly becoming their own separate species. If you've been in a fast food place, or a counter-service semi-upscale meal-replacement chain (to use the industry lingo) in the past year, you've seen them. They work the evening shifts. They wear short-sleeved, white, button-down shirts. To a man, they look like ex-jocks. And they are trying way, WAY too hard.

They are the Overzealous Assistant Managers, and they must be stopped, before they completely obliterate the fundamental social contract between the people who want cheap shitty food now and the people forced by circumstance to provide it.

Above and beyond the characteristics I've already mentioned, OAM's are always, ALWAYS white. I cannot explain why this is, although i have some ideas. Nine times out of ten, they are the only white person behind the counter. And all nine of those nine times, you will find them loudly, badly, painfully, trying to incorporate bits of his crew's common language into his sentences. If you hear someone ending his sentence with a loud, distinctly pronounced, Midwester-accented "POR FAVOR", you know you've found an OAM.

OAM's have all memorized the corporate training tapes on what constitutes good customer service, and they will implement them at every opportunity. They will go above. They will go beyond. They will give one hundred and ten percent. Some will give as much as a hundred and thirteen percent, because at a hundred and fourteen percent, you can file charges against them. They will engage you in conversation. They will recommend choices as if the food they serve didn't come from nationally standardized instructions and vat-grown identical ingredients. They will praise your selection. They will refer to everyone by a nickname that you cannot quite find yourself able to object to, though you will want to. They will not shut up, they cannot be bargained or reasoned with, and they absolutely will not stop until you are fed.

And it's all a huge lie. I am buying a cheap hamburger. Or a burrito. Or a bit of chicken with two side dishes. I am not having a Dining Experience. I want some biomass in my churning gut that will fuel my continuous rage, I want to spend eight bucks or less, and that is fucking well IT. The other three dozen people in the restaurant understand this. We understand it as we wait in line. Your employees understand it as they listen to you for hours on end, wishing they could kill you, grill you, and serve you on a Caesar salad. The only one who doesn't understand this is you.

We all know that in your worldview, you weren't supposed to end up here. It shows in every aspect of your countenance. But you're not the Green Lantern. You cannot, through sheer force of willpower, transform your assistant manager gig at Boston Market into some kind of Tony Robbins fantasy world of by-your-bootstraps entrepreneurrship. But you try, and by trying, inflict your fantasy world onto our collective personal space.

Stay the fuck away from my tray. I understand that at real restaurants, human beings come and take away your real plates and real silverware when you're done with your real food and take them to be washed and re-used. You don't work in a real restaurant. The plates are plastic and disposable. The silverware is plastic and disposable. The food is plastic and disposable. YOU are plastic and disposable. The food comes on trays for a reason, and that reason is that, as part of the understood agreement that comes with eating in a place like this, that I, as the eater, am reponsible for dumping my own refuse into the garbage can.

By swinging past my table and usurping my end of the deal, you aren't going to convince me that I've accidentally wandered into a quaint roadside cafe with a view of the lake. All you're doing is pissing me off. I dump the tray, you stand in the back and yell at people for taking sixteen minute breaks.

And under no circumstances should OAM's be allowed to ask you how the food is. It's the same. It's always the same. It's designed to be the same. It's probably even designed to mask whatever subtle variations in flavor may be caused by the saliva of thousands of different minimum-wage prep guys. It tastes like it tastes like it always tastes. It is a question that can have no useful answer anyway. What's he going to do about it if I tell him my Big Mac has odd elements of wood-smoke and a coppery brightness? He can't change the recipe. So all he's doing is wasting my time and his.

So, in summary, BACK THE FUCK OFF, SPARKY. Por favor.