Here’s a piece I first posted ten years ago this month…

Yesterday, a friend and I wanted a couple of Cobb salads to go from a restaurant.  When I called to place the order, I  asked the waitress to make sure there was no blue cheese on mine.  “No problem,” she replied.  “We’ll see,” I thought.

When we went to pick up our food, there was one regular styrofoam container and another with the words “no blue cheese” written on it.  Familiar with the “always check your order” rule, we opened them to take a look and they both had blue cheese on top.  We could not figure out how this happened.  If you can, let me know.

This was our thinking:  if neither container had anything written on it, but both had blue cheese, I’d assume the order wasn’t transmitted to the chef correctly. If only one had blue cheese, but nothing was written, okay, I got what I asked for.  But at what point did someone write “no blue cheese” on one of the containers if both of them had blue cheese?  Did someone put the blue cheese in and then write the message on top?  Did they pass it off to someone else who wrote it without checking?

By the way, the restaurant also had no setups (forks/knife/napkin) to give us.  Not in the mood to eat salad with our hands, we asked a woman at a nearby food cart for utensils, which she graciously supplied.  We walked away, shaking our heads at the multiple levels of incompetence we’d just encountered.  Why bother with to-go orders if you don’t have plasticware for your customers?  How does the supply get depleted without someone noticing they’re low and need to order more?  That’s why I didn’t ask the restaurant to fix my order — who knew what else there were capable of getting wrong?  I pushed the blue cheese off to the side as I ate.

I was reminded of the time my wife and I were driving across Florida and pulled off to get lunch at a Burger King.  After ordering burgers and fries, I asked for some ketchup and the cashier informed us they had run out.  We were stunned.  How are you out of the most-used condiment in the burger world?  At lunchtime?  Does “Have it your way” not apply in this franchise?

I noticed a Piggly Wiggly supermarket across the parking lot and thought, “Why don’t you take $5 out of the register, go over there, and buy a couple of bottles of Heinz?”  Notice I didn’t actually say that to the Burger King cashier, because I’m sure she would have answered “we’re not allowed to do that” or something similar from the world of no-rational-thinking-allowed-on-the-job.  I’d had first-hand experience with this during my summer as a teenage McDonald’s employee, when some of my colleagues clearly had their brains in neutral.

I also remember the time at another drive-through place when I asked, “Do you have root beer?” and the immediate response was, “No, but we do have Diet Sprite!”  As if that’s the fallback beverage for root beer.  It’s apparent Mensa membership is not a requirement for fast food employment.

With no ketchup to be had at this Burger King, we cancelled our order and went across the street to Wendy’s, which had miraculously avoided The Great Ketchup Drought, so our burgers came with all of the appropriate condiments.

And no blue cheese.