Thursday, April 09, 2009

American idle. Part 1.

The morning of my flight to Vegas found me in possession of a McDonald's coupon entitling me to a free breakfast sandwich with the purchase of any extra-value meal, an opportunity I could hardly pass up. I got to the squawk-box, explained my coupon situation and ordered two steak-bagels without cheeseone of which, I reiterated, would be free. The young lady asked me which drink I wanted with my extra-value meal, which was listed on the menu-board at a price of $4.39.

"What are my options?" I asked back.

She ticked off the list: coffee, o.j., milk, chocolate milk, etc.

Feeling more health-conscious than usual, I told her I'd take the orange juice. She told me she'd give me my total at the window. I drove around the building and got to the window, where the young woman took my coupon, gave me a perfunctory I-don't-really-want-to-be-here smile, and said, "That'll be $5.51."

Now, I realize that Pennsylvania, like most major states, is in grave financial straits, but I hadn't read anything about the sales tax shooting suddenly from 6 percent to 25 percent. So I knew something was wrong.

"That's way too much," I told the cashier. "It should be under $4.70."

She looked at my order. "You wanted the orange juice, right?"

"Yes. I asked what options I had for a drink, and that was one of them."

"OK, but it costs extra."

"It costs extra."


"So if somebody asks, 'Which drinks can I get with the value meal?', the choices you give them don't all come as part of the price?"

"Well, sir, we don't know what drink you want."

"I understand that. But if somebody is basically asking 'What does that include?', why would you give them a choice of drinks that aren't actually included, per se?"

And I realized immediately from her expression that I should not have said per se.

Anyway, I could belabor this for a while, but the bottom line is that eventually I got my o.j. as part of the regular price of the meal
this apparently required a major teleconference with the home officefor $4.65.

I also got two steak-bagels with cheese.

That's pretty much how it's been for me lately. A few days earlier I'd gone to the post office to have my mail stopped in preparation for Friday's trip to Vegas (which did not go as scheduled, but that's another whole story). I filled out the form, requesting that my mail be held as of Wednesday. Naturally, they delivered the mail on Wednesday as usual.
Among the items that arrived in Wednesday's mail was a credit-card statement that wasn't supposed to be there: I'd signed up for paperless statements six weeks ago and was informed that such online statements would kick in with this month's billing. Suuure they would. Among the items that didn't arrive, meanwhile, was an estimate for some household repairs that supposedly went out last week from a town just 10 miles up the road from me. But I didn't really have time to mope about any of this because I had to go up to the airport to pick up the rental car I use as an airport limo each time I fly*. Instead of the compact car I'd selected, they had a shiny new full-size SUV for me.

"It's a much nicer car," said the counter agent cheerily. be continued...

* It's considerably cheaper to rent a car the day before you fly then return it immediately before your flight than it is to simply hire a taxi to take you to the airport. In this specific case, $22 vs. $45. For a 15-minute trip.


Robert said...

Steve, I can't figure this part out.. how do you get to the airport to get to the car? And then.. so you have two cars?
Or do you return them to different car rental stations.
Being from NY, I think of a 45 minute trip, the Lehigh Valley airport is that much closer?

Elizabeth said...

Per se. LMAO.

So, Steve, what did you expect, exactly? IOW, welcome home.

It's the spring of your discontent, obviously. Per se. ;)

RevRon's Rants said...

Don't know how to break this to you, Steve, but before your ordeal at McD's was over... they spit in your food.

A bit of advice from one who worked in fast food as a kid (and observed, but did not personally engage in such retaliatory acts), and whose kids and their friends were pretty forthcoming about their days working in fast food places: Never complain until you have your food in hand. Even better advice: Don't complain at the store itself. Wait until you get home, to your hotel, etc., and register your complaint on the chain's website, referencing the store number (it's on the receipt). Instead of getting your dollar taken off your bill (along with unknown "extras" being added to your order), you'll generally get a coupon sent to you for a free - and hopefully secretion free - meal.

As to the USPS... are you really surprised? Out here on the edge of nowhere, UPS is just as bad.

Steve Salerno said...

Robert: The wife and I drive to the airport. I pick up the car. We convoy back home. Then on flight day, we drive to the airport, return the rental car and walk the roughly 20 steps to the terminal. LVIA is a cozy little facility--about 15-20 minutes from my house--but does have full service from USAirways. Even if you sometimes have to fly the first leg of the trip on something with propellers.

Eliz: Not back yet; still among the land of the slots and fake boobs. But I'll file your "welcome home" for future use.

Ron: Yes, I am well aware of the perils of fast food. But I've heard that ingesting random secretions eventually helps you build resistance to just about every form of microbe. So said George Carlin, anyway, about his early experiences swimming in the Hudson River. OTOH...we know what happened to George, don't we...

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