Thursday, July 27, 2006

Call Us with Your Concerns, Tuesday through Saturday

Yesterday I was over in Decorah, and ate at McDonald's. Must be the first time I've eaten at a McDonald's in almost a year. Little unfamiliarities struck me, such as the flat-screen TV hanging on the wall— must be the first time I've ever seen a TV playing for the benefit of customers in a fast-food joint.

But somehow what really struck me was the sales receipt. I sat there staring at it in wary, horrified fascination as I ate my double quarter pounder. A sales receipt designed by committee. Designed by a bureaucratic committee. Designed according to an opaque, indecipherable schema. Like I say, designed by committee.

And like so many things designed by bureaucratic committee, one is left with the vague impression that many of the incomprehensible features of the sales receipt are there, not to meet any known human need, but rather primarily to ward off potential lawsuits.

At the top of the sales receipt it read, "McDonalds of Decorah, 913 Short St, Decorah, IA," with whatever zip code. Note, only one McDonald's in town, so besides giving the full address, they somehow have to specify in addition "McDonalds of Decorah." Just so you didn't get confused, and lawsuit them for damages due to emotional anguish, from being ambiguously misled into thinking that the only McDonald's in Decorah, Iowa might somehow actually be the "McDonalds of Chicago" in Decorah, Iowa, or the "McDonalds of Amarillo" in Decorah, Iowa. No, make no mistake about it, the one and only McDonald's in Decorah, Iowa is none other than the "McDonalds of Decorah."

Though I see they left an opening for potential lawsuits in the non-use of an apostrophe, "McDonalds" instead of "McDonald's." Might this not lead to a lawsuit for damages due to emotional anguish among the orthographically challenged? "I was misleh-eh-ehd into a misspell-elling! Wahhhh! Wahhhh! Sob, choke!" Then again, in these illiterate latter days probably nobody will notice a mere misspelling.

Next on the sales receipt comes the maudlin, Dear-Abbyish notification: "Please call Scott w/ comments and concerns at 563-555-5555, Tuesday through Saturday." Oh, really? Why "Tuesday through Saturday"? Isn't that a bit odd, and just the sort of indecipherable specification you'd expect from a committee? I mean, why not Monday through Friday? Why not Monday through Saturday? What's this with "Tuesday through Saturday"? Isn't that a bit like "call us Tuesdays through Thursdays, Saturdays, and/or second or fourth Fridays in months that have an 'r' in their name"?

And call Scott "w/ comments and concerns"? What is this, a crisis hotline run from a fast-food cash register receipt? Rrrring, rrring, phone rings at McDonald's of Decorah, sobbing choking voice on the other end of the line: "Ohhhh, hello... may I speak with Scott? Becau-au-ause I'm just so-oh conceh-eh-eh-erned! I can't sta-and it! It's the french fries! Oh-oh-oh-oh, wahhhhhh! Choke, sob, gasp, wahhhhhhh! Oh, the fries, the inhu-ooo-manity of it all!!! Gasp! Wahhhhhhhhh!"

Yes, call Scott on the fast-food crisis hotline with your conceh-eh-erns!

Though why specify Scott? I mean, won't any random employee or shift manager do? Oops, sounds to me like an opening for another potential lawsuit, due to breach of implicit contract and damages due to emotional anguish! Sorry, this is 8:00 AM, and Scott won't be in until nine! Broken, sobbing, gasping voice: "Oh-oh-oh-oh! Sob, choke! I just have to speak to Scott! Wahhhhh! It says Scott on the sales recei-ei-ei-eipt! Wahhhhh! Waaahhhhhhhhh!!!"

Then after the Dear Abby crisis hotline notice on the sales receipt, the next item is... the name and address of the fast food joint! McDonalds, 913 Short St, Decorah, IA, zipcode. What, didn't they just give that same info not an inch away further up on the sales receipt? Yes, they did; but you see, this is a sales receipt designed by bureaucratic committee.

Then comes, in slightly smaller letters... the name and address of the fast food joint for a third time, followed by a phone number. Yes, just in case you didn't get it the first two times around, this is indeed "McDonalds Decorah IA", and its phone number is indeed... well, it's the same phone number already given on the receipt for that ersatz crisis hotline where you can call and sob and moan and choke over the horrors and inhumanity of the fries, though only from Tuesday through Saturday.

Next comes the order, with date fully specified: "Jul.26,2006(Wed)12:56PM" I like that day of the week, "(Wed)", crammed in there like an afterthought, as if to ward off lawsuits lest someone years down the road should come across this sales receipt amongst their treasured mementos, and suffer emotional anguish due to not being able immediately to tell which day of the week "Jul.26,2006" fell on. Or more likely it's to ward off lawsuits over damages due to emotional anguish from being unable to tell immediately whether the sale was made on Tuesday through Saturday when Scott (ask for him by name) was available to take sobbing phone calls on the french fries crisis hotline.

Then comes my order, summarized in such a cryptic code of abbreviations that a person might well lawsuit them for emotional anguish due to being unable to remember whether "DBL QTR CHR" stands for "double quarter pounder" or "double quarter pounder value meal"; along with an added fee of 36¢ levied as an "eat-in tax." What, McDonald's now adds an extra fee of 36¢ to cover the privilege of sitting and eating your meal in their establishment, instead of ordering to go?!

I also note that the emotionally overwrought could sense a potential lawsuit in the fact that the name of the fast-food joint was given three times on a sales receipt not over five inches long; while the phone number was given only twice, and not at all anywhere in the bottom half of the receipt. Imagine the damages due to emotional anguish from taking a tenth of a second longer to locate the hotline phone number, because one happened to glance first at the bottom half of the sales receipt, instead of at the top half of the sales receipt where, in the first two vertical linear inches, the phone number is given twice! Oh, the agony! Oh, the anguish! I've just got to call Scah-ah-ahtt on the crisis hotline to express my conceh-eh-ehrn! But only on Tuesday through Saturday.

Yeah, I know. Sheer lunacy. But that's the way a bureaucratic committee "thinks," and it was evidently none other than a bureaucratic committee which designed this incomprehensible sales receipt.

Oh, and please, somebody convince me that on the way out the door, I didn't sight on that flat-screen TV a commercial for McDonald's. As if now it's not enough to pay them for burger and fries, with an additional 36¢ park-your-ass-on-our-seats eat-in tax— no, now you also have to be subjected to on-site McDonald's TV commercials while you're eating your Big Mac! Agghhhh, that may have been a flight of my horrified imagination.

In concluding, let me specify that this blog post was written with purely satirical intent, don't lawsuit me, and it is not intended to reflect poorly on any fast food chain, imaginary fast food chain, actual fast food chain, or fast food chain as depicted in a work of fiction. Opinions are solely those of the author, and fall under the protection of satirical treatment of public figures, publicly well known corporations, and other such shadows and penumbras of First Amendment rights. Don't lawsuit me! Speech herein is not subject to the terms or conditions of the McCain-Feingold Act. Sales receipt being quoted from memory, wording may not be exact or perfect, disclaimer of all responsibility for speech except as satirical commentary, don't lawsuit me!!!

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2 Comments:

Blogger Dean Esmay said...

Legally they probably cannot call something a tax unless it's being levied by the government. Likely the city and/or county and/or state has put in a tax on non-takeout food, and it probably affects all restaurants.

Doesn't strike me as a particularly bright tax, but you can probably hold Mickey-D's harmless on that one.

Thursday, July 27, 2006 4:54:00 PM  
Blogger Paul Burgess said...

Dean, it ain't state of Iowa, and I'd be willing to guess it's not Winneshiek County either. Probably city, since Decorah is a college town, and you know what wacky notions they're apt to enact.

In fact— bright idea!— maybe the humanly unintelligible design of the sales receipt is the work of some English professor, intended to exemplify the post-structural salmagundi of critical theory and/or semiotics... ;-)

Thursday, July 27, 2006 5:44:00 PM  

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