Breaking point. Any of you who have seen the 1991 film 'Falling Down', starring Michael Douglas will know exactly what I am talking about. The straw that broke the camel's back. In the film, Douglas, a man on the edge, goes into a local fast food establishment and orders breakfast. It is three minutes past the 11.30am cut off time for serving breakfast and the staff refuse to serve him. Douglas chucks a wobbler, takes out a shotgun and accidentally takes pot shots. The terrified staff eventually serve him breakfast (while bears little resemblance to the advertisement displayed on the wall, prompting another reaction from Douglas).
I had one of those moments yesterday. You could say that I brought it on myself, bringing myself and my two fellow vegetarian chizzlers to a well-known multi-national chain of fast food ‘restaurants’ as a treat for being dragged along to yet another work related ‘yoke’. The restaurant is the kind of establishment that pre-baby-me swore that I would never bring my yet to be born children to – My children would only dine on home cooked goodness. Bless my innocent good intentions.
I was yet to appreciate the lure of the much coveted toy that accompanied children’s meals. Except this establishment doesn’t offer vegetarian children’s meals, so you can’t avail of the ‘free’ toy, unless you buy them for one euro each. In fairness though, the toys are pretty decent.
Lil woman wanted chips. I ordered a veggie wrap, which is actually a veggie burger cut in two, dressed with salad. The boy wanted the veggie burger, not cut in two, in a burger bun i.e. like a ‘real’ burger.
You get me ? Simple, right ? Nope.
The pleasant Young Fella at the Till couldn’t find an A.N.Other option on his till to key in our request, so he apologetically called his manager to advise. Equally pleasant, Helga told me that because of ‘customer demand’, the veggie burger in a burger bun option had been taken off the menu and was replaced with the wrap.
‘But I AM a customer. Small boy is a potential customer, if you would just give him what he wants. It IS a veggie burger after all’, I protested and stated the obvious. ‘You just cut it in half and put it in a wrap.’
Helga, very politely, said that she couldn’t ask the kitchen to ‘alter the menu’ as it would set a precedent.
Alter the menu ? Precedent? Really ?
I could just see the queues of vegetarians forming outside, at the thought that they could now have the veggie option in a thick, spongy round carbohydrate instead of the flat round option.
‘It can be our secret. I won’t tell anyone’, I whispered calmly, ‘I swear.’
I pointed to the pasty face of the hungry boy.
‘He JUST wants a veggie burger.’
I was aware that I was now speaking in a high pitched squeaky voice, somewhere between hysteria and bursting into tears. Helga remained calm and pleasant. I felt that she had training in Customer Relations, or perhaps Hostage Management. Helga suggested that they could prepare the usual veggie wrap, but give me an extra burger bun so that we ‘could assemble’ the burger ourselves at the table.
‘You aren’t going to charge me extra for the bun, are you ?’ I dared to ask.
The queue of people behind me were getting fidgety. They wanted their fast food fast. Faster than my queue was going. Tutting and throwing of eyes.
‘No madam, no extra charge’, Helga said reassuringly.
‘Thank you’, I said, barely audible now. ‘No relish please.’
I stepped away from the counter, exchanging a smile with the amused Young Fella at the Till. At the table, we took the cut-in-two burger out of the wrap and put it into the burger bun. Hungry boy horsed into it. Little woman wrapped some of her chips in the discarded wrap. Two contented children and a relieved Momma. A small victory for the little people.
Doot, doot, doot, doot, do, I’m lovin’ it.