BEFORE you tell me that not all people have problems with fast food outlets and their services, let me clarify: This is not a sweeping condemnation. Nope, not at all.
But its a stark reality that there are some fastfoods that would take almost a lifetime for food to get to the table from the moment it was ordered.
I went inside one of the 24-hour restaurants in San Pedro Street to fill my grumbling stomach after I came out from an internet cafe at two oclock one morning. Three waitresses were chatting with each other while a couple of others were flirting with two obviously-drunk customers. Another waitress was slumped on one table, asleep.
Nobody came to get my order until I was about to stand up and leave. One of the three waitresses came to me and handed me a menu. Too sleepy to peruse the menu thoroughly, I ordered egg soup and a serving of toasted bread to go with it.
“Hala mam, di man na parison (They’re not compatible)!” the waitress said presuming a know-it-all attitude.
My eyebrows shot up and almost went over my forehead.
“Hellooo Miss, its no business of yours what I order as long as it’s in YOUR menu, and I’m the one who will pay my order, not you!” I said in an irritated voice.
She went back to the kitchen grumbling that I was almost tempted to drag her by the hair to the restaurant manager.
In another occasion, I barely had an hour left before the last trip of the bus leaves for home when I ordered a take-out chicken meal at one of the prominent fastfoods in the city.
After 30 minutes, I still haven’t got my order as the fastfood staff promised.
I called a passing waiter and asked him innocently if the chicken has been butchered yet. Not understanding my question, his mouth opened and his face registered confusion as he passed my question to another waiter who laughed heartily and came to my table.
“Ma’am, sori gyod naihaw na baya pero nakabuhi pa gyod,” he apologized and told me he will follow it up in the kitchen.
Luckily I managed to catch the last bus for home.
Just recently, co-reporter Aurea ordered a mango shake as appetizer while waiting for our dinner in one of the beach resorts in the city.
We heard the whirling sound of the blender which stopped after a few minutes.
But no mango shake was served. We heard the sound of the blender again and I said maybe the waitress used unripe mango to require such a long time in preparation.
Several minutes later, a flushed waitress came out carrying Aurea’s mango shake.
“Maam I’m very sorry for the long wait because I put iodized salt on the shake instead of sugar, they looked the same kasi,” she apologized.
After a forty-five minutes wait, I swear the grumbling of our stomach could almost compete with the noise from the videoke machine when I remembered that what we ordered was just kinilaw and therefore needs no cooking.
I called the solitary waitress on duty when she passed by bringing a set of beddings towards one of the cottages and asked about our dinner.
“Hala ma’am, I forgot, kinilaw man to no? Kadali na lang gyod,” she assured us.
The “just a few minutes” turned out to be another 15 minutes before she sheepishly approached our table, this time to tell us that the malasugui fish we ordered was no longer suitable for kinilaw. Imagine it took her exactly one hour to tell us that!
We opted to order fried tuna belly in lieu of the kinilaw and settled to wait some more. Thirty minutes later, the waitress aproached us and immediately, we panicked because we were not prepared to accept any more disaster stories from her.
She told us sweetly that the fish is nearly cooked but we knew she was not telling the truth because it took eight minutes before we heard the swishing sound of oil as the fish was dropped in the pan. Hunger sharpens the hearing and imagination I suppose.
Lesson learned? If you want fast food service, don’t order from a menu. Go to a turo-turo eatery instead and get what you want in a few seconds.
Ahh, and I’ve always thought ‘fastfood’ restaurants were aptly named.
And oh, don’t ever be rude to waiters and waitresses BEFORE all your orders are served. You never know what happens in the kitchen.