So we actually walked about ten or fifteen blocks down Broadway to the next McDonald's. Once we got there, it is safe to say that we had already paid some price for our meal, and we just wanted to order, pay, and eat. The lines were not really an issue. There were lines, but there were also enough registers open to keep the lines moving at an even pace. The cashiers were of the typical lethargic breed you come to know quite well from most any customer service position in this city. Even though you're supposed to get something for free when they don't greet you with a smile, it's uncommon that you get anything other than a blank stare. Coming from the south, and a history of customer service work at both worker and management levels, this attitude used to bother me, but today I feel more sorry for these kids than anything else. Because where are they going really?
Anyhow, we ordered. Sarah, her Double Cheeseburger Value Meal. Me, my Double Quarter Pounder Meal. The total came out to be $9.71. I handed the cashier a ten dollar bill, and she explained to me that she didn't have any pennies so all she had to give me was silver colored coins. I accepted this state of affairs expecting that I was going to benefit from their lack of pennies, but when I counted my change what I had was two dimes and a nickel. The bitch shorted me four cents! No wait, calm down Andrew, she couldn't have shorted you. Ask politely for the total again, and I'm sure that you heard wrong. (That dialogue was not between me and Sarah, it was between me and myself.) So I ask for the total again, and again she quotes the number $9.71. This time from the receipt paper on the register.
Here is what ensued.
ME: "So given the choice, between shorting your own till one penny and shorting the customer four pennies, you choose to short the customer?"
HER: (oblivious) "Yeah."
ME: (slightly flustered) "McDonald's is shorting me four pennies rather than accepting a one penny loss?"
HER: (still oblivious) "Yeah."
ME: "No, wait. McDonald's is a trillion dollar company, and it's taking money from me rather than accepting a one penny loss. Doesn't that seem...?"
HER: (obviously thinking I am crazy) "Look, she (meaning her supervisor at the next register) told me to."
ME: "I don't doubt that, it's just that..."
SUPERVISOR: "Here sir." (She then handed me four pennies.)
ME: (after uncomfortable silence to original cashier) "I don't mean to be...."
That's basically where it ended. We waited for our food which had not yet arrived. Although there was a delay of them bringing my drink, one that caused the cashier girl to look at me confused and say, "What are you waiting for? That's everything" we did eventually get everything, at which point we happily took our tray to an open table. Sarah had already gone for the napkins and straws during the previous altercation, but had to ask for ketchup at the counter. They gave her four packets. This may seem like enough to some, but Sarah does like her some ketchup so it only worked to deepen my indignation over the parsimonious corporate attitude which I saw plainly illustrated in too separate occasions within three minutes of each other.
I will say that I had considered dropping the four pennies into the McDonald's Charity bins three or four of which decorate every counter but couldn't decide whether this action would be seen as generous or spiteful, and I didn't want to seem too generous. It wasn't until later, after I had had time to think about it that I began to consider that absolute absurdity of McDonald's asking people it just profited three or four hundred percent off of to then donate their change to a charity you would hope they had already donated to with their purchase. At this point I was trying to figure how much money a day the McDonald's Corporation would earn in additional daily profits if each location were to short one customer a day four pennies. Obviously more money than anybody who works at the location would make in a day. So what the home of the Big MAC is doing, thanks to what is apparently company policy, is getting at least one--perhaps many more than that--worker paid and then directly pushing the cost onto the customer.
I wanted to go back to the counter to explain to the cashier that not only was it not her I was mad at, but also why what I was doing was defending a good principle, and not simply the action of some cheap white dude over four pennies. I wanted to explain to her that it wasn't a matter of just a couple of pennies, but was instead an issue of thousands and thousands of pennies. I wanted to explain to her that while she wasn't profiting her company was. And how. Sarah just told me to calm down, and that she would never get what I was talking about. Maybe not. All the same, I am hardly lovin' it.