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A Clever Investigation...

Fast Food

Last week the Phantom's job was to provide fast food for five hungry workers for six days. I figured it wouldn't be a good idea to feed these starving people the same old burgers and fries for six days in a row. Although McDonald's is the most famous fast food on earth, nobody should shovel in six Big Macs in a row no matter what.

With those stray thoughts in mind, I decided to vary the meals, keeping in mind that the lunches always had to be fast food, and should not cost over $25 per day. What follows are the choices and my relative success in procuring interesting meals for the week.

First day, 

1st stop: a combination Taco Bell/Pizza Hut venture. I was thinking, personal pan pizzas -- yummy. The workers would love them. No go. Ordering 5 was a mistake. The employees couldn't make 5 at one time. The clerks would get several ready and then a car customer would come by and they'd steal one of my order and give it to somebody else.

I waited for 30 minutes, watching my stack grow and dwindle, before I finally started complaining. They said it would just be another minute. Five minutes later, still no pizzas. I demanded my money back. They finally gave in because they just couldn't get their act together.

2nd stop: Burger King Chicken burgers and homemade chocolate chip cookies, drinks. Hot! Ready in 5 minutes. Yeah!

No pizza in sight!

Second day.

KFC Twister Sandwiches and drinks. Ready in 5 minutes. Two chicken strips, lettuce, tomato and some mayo, wrapped in a flour tortilla. Yummy!

Third day.

McDonald's Chicken Caesar Salads. Another difficult order. Same thing as Pizza Hut. The clerks couldn't make 5 all at once. They kept giving them to the cars passing through. I was watching and complaining that the hot chicken on the cold lettuce shouldn't sit too long. I had 4 ready to go but couldn't get the 5th. Finally I started demanding my money back. They said they'd throw them all out and start over. I said just gimme the salads already. They gave me extra Paul Neuman salad dressing as an appeasement. Not needed. The salads were just okay.

Fourth day.

Burger Day from Carl's Jr. A round of Famous Stars, with onion rings and fries. They liked the burgers just fine, also the onion rings, but we threw out the fries. An order of 5 burgers took them about 7 minutes.

Fifth day.

Went to Boston Market for sandwiches. There were 2 clerks and a long line. The manager met me at the door. I asked him if they could make 5 sandwiches in 10 minutes. He said sure, no problem. I stood in line for 10 minutes and still hadn't placed my order so I left without food. Bummer. The Market needs to put out the Help Wanted sign.

Back to McD's (a different outlet) for more chicken burgers and fries. Burgers are getting old, whether chicken or beef. Better service for a burger order.

Sixth day.

Subway Deli Clubs. I asked the clerk to choose the kind of sandwiches. I told them I had 5 hard working guys that needed food. They recommended the deli clubs. I agreed. Also ordered homemade warm cookies, because they had been so successful the day before. The clerk said they would rename their sandwich the "hard working man's sandwich". Good service and a sense of humor. I like that in a fast food restaurant.

Here's the way the workers rated the food:

1. Subway Deli Clubs
2. Kentucky Fried twisters
3. Carl's burgers
4. McD's chicken burgers tied with Burger King's chicken burgers
5. Chicken Caesar salads

When push comes to shove, I think beef burgers win hands down, but there are other choices for hungry workers. Some of them are even good for a person -- like salad, for example. But burgers are very hard to resist.

A big problem with fast food restaurants is the service. They do best when you order "meals" by number like their menus always suggest, and order them one at a time. They have a harder time being "fast", when the order gets complicated, or if you order too many of something (unless it's burgers).

Another problem is that the customer has little recourse once you've made your order -- but to stand there and stew, and hope they don't forget you. The last thing they want to do is hand back your money, so hang onto your receipt until you have your food in your hand, and then inspect it carefully, especially if you have a complicated order. There's nothing worse than showing up at the job site one burger short of a full load.

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