Anachostic

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Tag Archives: dining

If You Can’t Feed The One You Love, Feed The One You’re With

This idea came to me the night I was in charge of running my local Blimpie.  The customer in there was complaining about women.  You know, you can’t live with ‘em and whatnot.  He’d gotten himself in a bind because he had a girlfriend or maybe a wife, and one of his other female friends slipped a phone number to him of her friend who probably wanted to get with him.  The fact the guy was unattractive is completely beside the point, but does bear noting.

This guy thinks he’s going to get in trouble from one of these three women involved.  I’m thinking to myself, “Feed ‘em!”  You’re here at Blimpie and I’m in charge, wait, the owner’s back, so I guess I’m second in charge now.  Get an extra sub for the woman, whichever woman you’re going to see next.  That will show you care.

I made a promise to my GF a long time ago that I would always make sure she would be fed.  There was a period of time where she was schooling full-time with no income.  I kept my promise.  I cashed in tens of thousands of credit card reward miles for Longhorn gift cards and with those, she ate and studied at the local restaurant.  It was such a frequent thing for her that the wait staff gave her a corner of her own so she could eat and do schoolwork unbothered.

Back to this guy and his woman issues.  Showing affection with food is something that works on every relationship level. It keeps the relationship healthy (even if the food itself isn’t healthy).  Obviously I feed the GF well, but I also have a close friend that I gift food to, and another co-worker that I treat specially as well.  And it’s become a two-way street with gifts of snacks and candy going back and forth between all of us.  In addition to that, there’s social interaction over work cake (and it’s curious to see who participates and when and who huddles together devouring the spoils).

Although I consider myself more of a financial provider in my relationships, I can totally understand how women, mothers especially, get so much satisfaction from feeding people.  With the holidays here, I’ve somewhat taken on some cooking duties.  I’m not complaining, it’s a great thing to be able to do.  My skills are limited, but I am becoming a specialist in mashed potatoes.  I will not apologize for choosing such a specialty.

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The Roller Coaster Meal

Over the weekend, the GF and I were out in Touristville and I made the decision to eat at Kobe Steakhouse.  Kobe is a place we used to go frequently, and one I still manage to eat there every once in a while.  It’s at a location we hadn’t been to before, like I said, right in Touristville, near the premium outlets.  Don’t ask me why we chose to go to the outlets on Black Friday weekend.  Some things can’t be rationalized.

So, we make our way to the restaurant through traffic that moved like sludge through a sewer pipe.  I mean, it was shitty traffic.  When we got inside the restaurant, it was unsurprising that there were plenty of people waiting already.  The hostess says the wait is going to be 40-45 minutes.  We’re only mildly hungry right then, so this will be fine for us to build up some hunger.  We get the pager and sit down for an extended wait.

Five minutes into our wait, the pager goes off.  Hooray for being a rockstar!  Well, that’s not true.  They never asked who I was, so my frequent flyer status wouldn’t have anything to do with this.  Doesn’t matter, getting to eat now!  We get seated at a table with another family of four.  Each table seats ten, so there’s four empty seats between us.

I’ll take a moment to explain Kobe policy.  You don’t get considered for seating until your entire party is present.  It’s pretty obvious this family is dining with another family, so our table has a party of 8 and a party of 2.  But the party of 8 is only half-there.  There’s an actual business reason they won’t seat you like this, which is going to become obvious, very soon.

The server takes our drink orders.  He asks about the people not there yet, and it is determined to just bring waters for them.  The drinks are served and now orders are taken.  The missing people can’t place their orders as they are not there.  The GF and I are starting to think that we’re going to have a half-full table, which sucks for the chef.

The soup is served.  The empty places get a bowl of soup each.  The salad is served.  The empty seats now have a soup and salad sitting in front of each of them.  Soon, the chef will come out and these people haven’t even shown up to place their orders.  Is this considered abandonment yet?  The server consults with the family and they don’t know where their friends are, but they are sure to be here soon.  I commented to the GF that our 45 minute wait was still in effect, it was just being applied after getting seated.

Then, a holiday miracle.  The other family shows up.  There’s a flurry of greetings and everyone takes their seats.  There’s a small issue though.  There’s five people.  The party of eight, which was seated as a party of four is actually a party of nine.  See, this is why you wait for the whole goddamn party to show up before you seat anyone. 

Despite this, everyone crams the fuck in there and the server talks with each new person to get their drink and food order.  Karmically enough, the issue of being short one soup and salad is never resolved.  The chef finally comes out and tries to confirm everyone’s order.  There’s confusion because he has two tickets, because the second party arrived so late.  The chef is struggling with the orders and the number of people and I say to him, “You have 11 here.”  Whether that helped or not, I have no idea.

He begins with the sauces.  The table is designed for 10, and everything is planned for 10.  He has 10 sauce trays.  I try to help by saying I don’t want any sauce, so he pulls one tray back.  Now he has 9 trays and there’s 10 people that will want sauce.  This is simply not working out.

Despite this ridiculousness, things worked out really well for me and the GF.  The other parties turned down a lot of the food.  Extra rice, extra noodles, extra veggies – we were loaded up.  Maybe it was for the best because I’m not sure they prepped for 11 at a table.

However, even though we were fed heartily, even good food can’t make up for your meal running into 2 hours.  That’s just way too much.  So, it was hard for us to tell if we were happy with the meal or not.  The food was good, the experience was not as much.

The server brought my check, and fortunately, I had a $10 reward that was applied to my check.  I sent the bill off with my credit card and the server came back to talk to me.  The manager felt bad about us being crammed in on a table of 11 and took an extra $20 off the bill.  That was unexpected and quite pleasant.  So the bill was paid and we got the hell out of that shitshow.

The rise and fall of expectations and reality left us completely confused as to how we should be feeling, other than full and tired. 

“Enhance Hospitality”

Recently a co-worker of mine asked if I’d been to Pollo Tropical lately.  I hadn’t.  The last time I mentioned them in a post was when I found out they eliminated the large drink size and only had medium cups.  I think I’d been back since then, but not very recently.

My co-worker rattled off a list of things that had changed, for the worse.  The list included:

  • No real plates.  Now they use styrofoam plates.
  • No real silverware.  Only plastic forks and knives.
  • No table service.  You have to get your food from the counter.
  • No bussing service.  You have to clear your own table.
  • No onions or lime on your chicken.  They only have the flavor from the marinade.
  • Chicken breasts are smaller.

That’s a pretty significant change and I didn’t believe it.  Even after my visit today to confirm this, I still don’t believe it.  I want to visit a second location and ensure this isn’t chain-wide.  If it is, well…

So today, I did go to Pollo Tropical for lunch.  I stood in line sporting a defensive posture with my arms across my chest as I could immediately verify at least some items from that list.  When I got to the counter, I grilled the cashier on the changes.

“You’ve updated your menu?”

“No, everything still there.  We’ve added blah blah blah and there’s blah blah blah.”

“Never mind.  I see what I normally get.  I’ll have that and a drink.”

As she’s punching it into the register, I begin the interrogation.

“So, no plates anymore?  just styrofoam?”

“Yeah.”

“And only plasticware?”

“Yeah.”

I look at the sign on the counter near the wall that says you have to listen for your number and pick up your order. “You have to pick your food up now?”

“Yeah.”

“So, do you have to clear your table now?”

“Well, we only have the one trash can in the back… so…”

”So. It’s not as nice.”

“Huh?”

“It’s not as nice.”

“Oh, yeah.”  You’re not listening to me at all, are you?

As I filled my drink and got my plastic knife and fork, I noticed one other change.  Each table used to have its own napkin dispenser.  No more.  Also, I had noticed while I was standing in line, that they removed the community bulletin board from their wall.  How curious.

As I stood and waited for my food impatiently, the customer in front of me came back up and complained that his side dish, maybe fries, maybe plantains, was “super stale”.  The person behind the counter took them and threw them out, probably saying he’d get him some fresh food.  That’s not promising.

My food came out and I was able to confirm no toppings on the chicken and smaller portions.  I took the tray with my white styrofoam 3-portion plate to a table and ate my meal in subdued silence.  The change in atmosphere was significant.  Pollo used to be at an atmospheric level of Panera Bread.  Now it was like a no-name food court place.  I mean, to use generic styrofoam plates and not even branded plates is a major faux pas in brand image.

In my quest for answers, I searched online and ended up getting info straight from the horse’s mouth: The 3rd quarter corporate earnings call.  In this conference call you hear from all the top people at the company and what they are proud of and what they are planning to make the company profitable in the future.  I read a lot of things in that transcript that worried me for the future of Pollo, despite how they touted them as huge improvements. (Fried chicken?  What the fuck.)

But here’s the quotes that made me bristle:

We have implemented new labor models at both brands. These models will ensure speed of service and accuracy, enhance hospitality, ensure that we are delivering consistently high-quality food. We have also optimized staffing, so that managers can be intensely focused on the guest experience.

New labor models: They are reducing the amount of work that their employees have to do.  This means they don’t do table service anymore.  They also don’t have to wash dishes anymore.  This means they can…

Optimize staffing: Cut their workforce and/or reduce the number of labor hours.  The only benefit of this is reduced cost, and is completely incompatible with customer service.  So, when I read “speed of service” and “enhance[d] hospitality”, I’m going to call bullshit on that one.  And I will say they succeeded in optimizing staffing while I was there.  One cook, one counter person.  No one working the lobby.  Manager must have been in the office intensely focused on the guest experience.  Especially when a customer complained about stale food.  Super stale food.

One other relevant quote buried in pages of financial bukkake:

We’ve been working on evolving our brand culture so that our teams will truly embrace our high standards for food quality, hospitality and restaurant environment.

Again, with the hospitality, and restaurant environment.  I already mentioned my impression of the new and improved environment, but let me say it again.  There are two things that are going to come from this major shift.  One, the customers that came before (me and my co-worker, and many others) are going to say, “What the fuck happened here?”  You can’t maintain a level of service and suddenly lower it thinking no one’s going to notice.  The other thing is that new customers are not going to be as impressed with your environment as your older customers were when they first came.

Now if that’s the ballpark you want to play in, that’s fine.  But understand you don’t capture Panera Bread-grade customers when your presentation is shit and your service is non-existent.

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No tipping allowed.  For what?  For fucking what?

It’s The Small-Town Vibe

Yesterday had a couple of curious events, especially curious to happen in the same day, both involving dining.

For lunch, a bunch of coworkers and I (plus one who got left behind) had lunch at a middle-eastern grocery/restaurant.  Hardly really a restaurant, more like a deli with some booths and tables.  For myself, I grabbed some tabouleh and some pita bread and a drink, paid for it and sat at a booth.  Everyone else all had their food from the kitchen.  I wondered how everyone paid for their food already.  They didn’t.  And no one seemed to understand how payment was going to work.

So each of them just went up to the kitchen window, asked for food and got it and was now seated and eating it, whereas I went to the shelves and coolers, got food, paid for it, and was now eating it.  No one else had any order slips, checks, or anything else to indicate what they got.  The point I am laboriously making is that this restaurant operated on the honor system.  Does such a thing exist anymore?  Well, it worked out well for everyone, because I do have standards for my cohorts and honesty is one of them.

But, if that story is somewhat interesting, maybe mildly interesting, this one is better.

After work, I decide to stop at my local Blimpie for dinner.  You know Blimpie, there’s what, maybe a dozen of them around?  I can’t seem to find one anywhere, but I do love their bread. It’s so fluffy.  Anyway, that’s not what’s interesting.  See, the guy who runs my Blimpie, runs/owns, I mean.  Foreign as well, maybe Indian, maybe Pakistani.  That’s all completely irrelevant.  He’s a damn hard worker.  He owns the place and is the only employee.  He works open to close seven days a week.  His wife owns/runs the dry cleaning location in the same plaza.

Now, I feel sorry for this guy, not only because he’s always there, but also because there’s never anyone else there.  Maybe I’ll see another customer when I’m there, most often I won’t.  But he always recognizes me and always forgets what cheese I want on my sandwich, so hey, I guess we’re friends.

Tonight, I get my food and as usual I’m the only one eating it there.  The guy comes over to me and says, “Can you do me a favor?”  He puts this paper down beside me.  “I’m going to go over next door.  If someone comes in, have them call this number on here and I’ll come right back.”

Yes, you probably understood that just as I did.  I’m in charge of the store while he goes out.  That’s quite a promotion for someone who’s not even an employee.  So, since we’re friends, I say, “sure,” and off he goes, carrying a box from Amazon.

He had said he was going to be gone for just a minute, but I think it was something more like five minutes.  And wouldn’t you know it, here comes a customer.  As soon as the customer gets in the door, I hold up the piece of paper and say.  “Well, you are the first person to come in and I have been told that he wants you to call this number and he will be right back.”

The customer is like, “Where’s he at?”  And I say, “I assume he went to the dry cleaners.  I think his wife runs it.”  He’s just “Geez,” but he gets his phone out and calls the number on the paper I’m holding up.

“Hey.”  “Yeah.”  “Ok.”  And the guy hangs up.  Then he’s just walking around the lobby.  I’m not sure if I’m supposed to make sure that anyone walking in doesn’t steal anything or not, so I ignore him for a bit, then try to engage in random talk.  “It must be rough working open to close every day.”

The customer doesn’t seem fazed at all. “Oh, he and his wife run this and the dry cleaning business.”  Well, then.  I guess he knows what’s up.  Blimpie owner comes back and he and the customer are just “Hey, how’s it going?”  I guess they’re friends, too.

But the point of this is, I was trusted to watch a restaurant yesterday.  Sure, I’ve run pizza shops alone, like 20 years ago.  But I was an employee then.  I’m a customer now!  What’s up with this trust all of a sudden?

Dove’s Target Market

Today at work, someone randomly gifted our department with a bunch of bite-size Dove chocolates.  That’s cool enough, but the candies seem to have been specially made for our department.  Within each wrapper was an inspirational message, written just for us.

In the field of inspirational messages, there are some that are universally accepted as positive and constructive, and then there are some that are less so.  And these messages fall into the latter camp.  I began my discovery with what seemed like genuine concern for me.

“Accept a compliment”

Why, thank you, you fattening and diabetic mini-monster.  I assume you are complimenting me on my fine taste in chocolate (dark chocolate, for the intelligent and refined palate).  Encouraged, I opened the next one.

“Wing it”

Well, this is my second piece, so you could say, yeah, I am doing so.  In fact, I have one more from this handful to go.

“Don’t apologize”

Fuck no, I won’t.  I just ate three of you bastards and I’m going back for more.  At the candy bowl, a co-worker comes over and huddles next to me.  He’s either encouraging me or shaming me as I paw through the bowl looking for more dark chocolate pieces.  It doesn’t matter which it is right now.  I’m winging it and I won’t apologize for it.

I score four more pieces and scurry back to my desk.  My newly installed and operating white noise generator on my desk hides my hissing, “preciousssssss.”  I open the next piece, toss it into my maw, and absorb both calories and wisdom.

“Ignore the clock”

And so I do and begin live-blogging this feeding frenzy.  The next piece is unwrapped and maybe I’m starting to regret grabbing four more pieces.  But this is for the education!

“Take a run on the wild side”

As the dark chocolate melts in my mouth and slides heavily down my gullet, I wonder if these chocolates are prophetic.  Will the next one predict my death?  Will the next one be my death?  There are two more to go.  Ignoring the clock and running – or not – on the wild side, I open the second to the last piece.

“Take a run on the wild side”

Oh my god.  I hate running.  And I’m beginning to dislike Dove chocolate.  But, hey, I can use my newly-found wisdom to my advantage.  Let’s see, what I will do is open the last piece, consume the wisdom it proffers, then ignore the clock and not consume the actual chocolate.  Dove knows what they are doing, most assuredly.

“Improvise”

I just have.  That advice would have been better if given a little earlier.  But right now, the chocolate will remain open and exposed as I recover from my sugar high.  What a ride.

Burger King Bullshit

It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten at a BK.  It seems every once in a while, I have to go eat somewhere just to remember why I don’t go there anymore.  Such it was in this case.

This is actually an old story, dug out from some blog drafts I had, but the story deserves to be told.  The time frame is sometime in 2014.  So then, I’m out of town doing some photography and I take a break for lunch.  I have a strange desire to try Burger King.  So I stop in and have the dumbest experience ever.

They’re a little busy, so I wait in line for a while, during which time, I consider how I’m going to order.  It is always a trial to order my standard meal at BK.  I want a plain double cheeseburger in a medium-size meal.  There’s no number for that combo, so the order always ends up all screwed up because the counter person can never tell the difference between a sandwich order and a combo meal order.  I’m going to throw another wrench into this because they have some new special fries called “SatisFries” that I’m willing to try

So I end up placing my order: plain double cheeseburger, medium-size, with Satisfries.  The total is $11.  As I hand over my credit card, I’m thinking, holy shit, that’s expensive.  When I get my receipt, I find out why.  I’m getting a double whopper, medium meal, and an extra order of Satisfies.  What the fuck.  I won’t care if the whopper is plain and with cheese.  Trying to discuss this problem with the brain-dead order-taker has no effect.  He says it is whatever I want.  What does that even mean?  I know it won’t be what I want.  It will be what the receipt says.  That’s the definition of an order.  I’m holding up the line with this stupid discussion, and I don’t want to get into a huge battle with cancelling this order and placing a new one.  So I place a new order for only a plain double cheeseburger.  He starts to create an order for a double whopper – I see it on the register display.  I start getting angry.  I say, isn’t there a double cheeseburger?  He says no, everything’s a whopper.

Really, now.  The moron at the register puts forth a little effort, digs through the menu, and finds what I want.  I pay, and the register rejects my card.  Apparently, you can’t place two orders in a row using the same credit card without manager approval.  WHAT?!  So the manager comes over and this issue is taken care of.  My receipt shows an order for a double hamburger.  “Is this going to have cheese?”  “Yes.”  “It doesn’t say it will.”  This is a disaster.

I get my first order with a whopper I don’t want and two fries.  Then I get my second order.  I ask, does this have cheese?  The manager says yes, then stops and says, you wanted cheese?  I said double cheeseburger.  This doesn’t say cheeseburger.  I know!  While I wait for the cheese to be put on, I give my whopper to the person after me. I don’t fucking want it.

Eventually, I get to eat my food and it sucked.  Very unsatisfried.

What’s Good For Us Is Good For You

It was a while ago that I had gone to Pollo Tropical and ordered my usual, with a large drink.  The cashier replied, “We only have one size of drink now.” Ok.  But that is a medium cup.  Right.  That change, which I considered kind of significant, made me think about the whys of such an unannounced change.

For the company, the change would mean reducing the number of items they had to stock and order, which has benefit.  Also, it’s less drink walking out the door, because who wouldn’t refill before leaving? So, there’s that savings. And finally, I assume it’s a preemptive move when the pressure comes on for the death of soft drinks.  Kind of, “Hey, we’re not even allowing people to buy more than 20 ounces here.”

Although I was pretty displeased with the change, I accepted it and moved on.  Then, yesterday, I went to Firehouse Subs and got a meal combo.  I was given a 20 oz cup.  Wait, didn’t this used to include a 32oz drink?  I looked around and saw 32oz cups on other tables, so I don’t know what I did wrong.  Oh well, I don’t eat here that often anymore, so I sucked it up and got on with my day.

Today, I go to Sweet Tomatoes.  I get to the cashier and ask for a large drink.  She hands me a 20oz cup.  No, I want the large size.  “We only have these now.”  WTF.  Just like Pollo.  But, Sweet Tomatoes only ever had 32oz to-go cups, not the 20oz.  So something’s afoot here.  It’s not simplifying stock items, it’s shrinking things.

Fountain drinks are the biggest profit makers for a restaurant.  It’s under a quarter for a cup, lid, straw and the drink itself.  Considering many places I go charge $3 for a drink, you better believe I get refills and to-go cups whenever I can.  And now, they’re shrinking the available cup sizes so you can’t leave with an extra 10 cents of drink?

For future reference, Boston Market still only has one drink cup – a 32oz cup.  They’ve recently changed from a plastic cup to a paper cup.  Let’s see if they shrink it down to a 20oz.

A Little Bit Of Tim Taylor In The Kitchen

Thanksgiving is almost here and that means it’s time for cooking.  I believe I probably think like most guys in that in order to do something properly, you have to have the right tools.  If you don’t exactly know what the right tools are, it’s best to just have all the tools.

And so, in this year, I’ve been building up my kitchen tool chest.  I pitched my ad-hoc cookware and bought a brand new starter set of pots and pans.  Then I augmented that set with a couple more small pots, for flexibility of course.  And last night, I saw two more pieces from the same model line (in the same color, too!).  I hadn’t ever seen them before, and I wasn’t entirely sure I would ever see them again, so I picked them up.  Now I own a stock pot and a deep sauté pan.  Will I ever use them?  Better to have and not need than need and not have.  Clearly, a man composed that line.

That’s not the only thing I’ve done in my tool refresh.  I pitched my dinnerware and bought all new, matching pieces, including things I shouldn’t need, like a serving bowl, a platter, and a gravy boat.  And although my meals are typically for one, I have 4 large plates, 4 small plates, 4 bowls, 2 additional large bowls, and 2 more additional small bowls.  I like soup and salad, but still, that might be pushing it.  I have the additional plates and such in case I have guests.  ha ha ha ha

I also swapped out my flatware.  Just because.  The old set was over 10 years old, and a change was needed.  Also, more knives.  I have two carving sets.  I have multiple whisks, multiple peelers, multiple strainers, multiple cutting boards, multiple crock pots, and more wooden utensils than I can use in a week.  More mixing bowls than I expect to realistically use, but they’re in all different sizes, so I will have the perfect size bowl for whatever it is I plan to do.  You need to have the right size tool for the job, right?

Last night, when I picked up the most recent pot and pan, I made the joke that I was a “completist”.  But then I looked up the definition, which is: “an obsessive, typically indiscriminate, collector or fan of something.”  That doesn’t sound fair.  It’s not an obsession, nor is it indiscriminate for me.  For one, it’s opportunistic. (This also applies to my CD collecting.)  Also, my purchases serve a purpose.  I’m not exactly acquiring these things for the sole purpose of having them.  I do intend to use them when there is a legitimate need.  I just need to create that need.

Service Standards

It’s a new month, so I need to keep my post stats active every month – here goes nothing.  This is something I’ve mulled over for some time, but never gave it much internal analysis until recently.

Restaurant kiosks are starting to proliferate.  My reaction to them ranges from indifferent to disgust.  The first kiosk on the scene was at Chilis.  And at this place, I am indifferent to the presence of the checkout device.  I use it without any issue and I’m out.  Next up was Olive Garden.  This one irks me.  I try to pay for my meals through the waitress, and if I’m made to pay through the device, I always leave a comment that I hate using it.  The most recent arrival is at McDonalds.  This one really irritates me.  After a few interactions with these huge devices, I gave thought to my feelings.  Why do I not mind kiosks at Chilis, dislike them at Olive Garden, and hate them at McD’s?

In the Chilis/OG setup, I know that I disliked OG’s more because it cheapened the dining experience.  Go ahead and laugh that I think OG is a “dining experience”.  But it is a full service restaurant.  So is Chilis, but the atmosphere at Chilis is definitely less formal.  Go ahead and laugh that I think OG is “formal”.  Whatever.

So if I don’t mind that Chilis is informal and has kiosks, then why do I have an issue at McDs?  It sure isn’t more formal than Chilis.  I gave it a lot of thought and this is what I came up with.

At McDs, a part of my satisfaction of the meal is the service.  You can laugh and say that’s a pretty low hurdle, and you’re right.  And you’d be surprised how often it isn’t met.  Or maybe you wouldn’t.  But when it’s good, it makes things pretty awesome.  Think of it like a shitty baseball team.  You want them to win.  You know it’s a long shot – a really long shot.  But when they put up a good fight and still lose, you can still have some pride.  You know they really tried.  They’re just not good.  Doesn’t that sound like your typical McDs experience?

Oh wait, I had a better example that explains how I feel about this.  Imagine a band playing at a concert.  There’s an awesome song you want to hear because it has this really technical, difficult part in it.  Even if the band messes up the part, it’s still great.  You know they can do it (because they did it before, when they recorded the album), so you give them a pass.  Maybe they mess it up at every concert you go to, but you still love them for trying it.

Now imagine the band determines that they just can’t play the song like they did in the studio, so they decide to cut out that section.  They just don’t play it.  Yay, no more mistakes.  But you get no satisfaction out of seeing them try and maybe they’ll actually kick ass and get it right.  That would be awesome after so many times of seeing them get so close.  But, they cheated.

And that’s what McDs is doing.  They’re cheating.  They know they suck at the service part, so they’re cutting it out.  But they don’t always suck!  A lot, yes, but not always.  And I want to be there when they don’t suck – that makes it awesome.  But they’ve taken that potential away.

So now when I go to McDs (3 out of 4 of the locations I go to have kiosks now), sometimes I get a cheerful person introducing the device and how to use it, and sometimes I get nothing.  Either way, I’m in no mood to talk to a person.  That’s not what McDs wants, clearly.  And that ruins my meal.  It’s like buying food from a machine.

Currently, they are bringing the food to your table, but I expect that practice will probably stop and you’ll just get your number called and you have to pick it up.  Then they will probably just wall off the kitchen and serve you through a small window.  Maybe you won’t even see a person back there anymore.  Maybe there won’t be people there anymore.  Time will tell.

It’s Happening Again

A couple of years ago, I wrote about tea.  I had casually mentioned that I found a new tea brand and I was enjoying it.  That brand was Te Bustelo.  Well, over two years later, I am still very much enjoying it.  My GF, ever-thoughtful, bought me two huge cans of tea mix, and they lasted me, well, two years.  I’m just finishing up the second canister now.

For Christmas, I suggested she replenish my stock.  Te Bustelo could only be had at Wal-Mart, and that’s not a place I go.  A few days later, she reported she was unsuccessful in finding any.  So I searched Wal-Mart’s website.  It said the product was no longer available.  Panic starts setting in.  I jump on Amazon.  The only thing available is a 6-pack of canisters and there’s only 8 cases left of them. At a little over $7/can, this isn’t really a great deal.

Oh shit.  This is just like what happened with Nestea.  I find something I really like and it disappears.  So, without delay…

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Today, Amazon only has one case left in stock.  You can’t find Te Bustelo anywhere else online.  This is the end.  So, I guess I’m probably good for 2-3 more years and then it’s on to something else.  But what?  Back to Lipton?  Try the 4c brand I see everywhere?  Will they even be around in 3 years?