I’ve Got a Bone to Pick With People Who Aren’t Ready to Order

I knew it wouldn’t take me too long to stray from the world of sports.

Like everyone, I have a set of pet peeves. Things that get under my skin. Since I live in Atlanta, traffic-related peeves are plentiful (and probably the subject of at least one future column). There are scads of others. I probably have an inordinate desire for people to behave as I would like for them to behave. The world would be a better place, however, if they would. My way is usually a very good way.

One of my biggest peeves is people that have been standing in line in a fast-food or limited-service restaurant for some amount of time. Could be two or three minutes. Might only be 30 seconds. However long it has been, these people have had time to peruse the menu. If it’s a McDonald’s kind of place, one would think that they entered the restaurant (or even the drive-through) knowing what it is they want. I mean, come on. You know you came in craving a Big Mac. Just order the thing and move out of the way, buddy.

But even if it’s a place they’ve never been before, one would think they know enough about the general “theme” of the restaurant to have a good feel for what they want.

My new favorite limited-service restaurant is called El Pollo Loco. If you have an El Pollo Loco where you live and you haven’t yet tried it, I strongly encourage you to do so. They marinate their chicken in citrus and spices, then grill it. I have tried KFC’s new grilled chicken and I assure you that as good as it is, EPL’s chicken kicks its ass (and breast, and thigh, and so on). It’s indescribably good. I am not currently a spokesman for the chain, but I could be. They would sell more chicken if I were. That’s how strongly I feel about it.

At EPL they primarily sell chicken dinners. They also have salads, burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and some other items, but they are there to sell a lot of chicken. And they should be selling a lot of chicken because it’s just that good (or did I already mention that?).

Here’s the drill. You order a chicken meal. You get either a breast and wing or a thigh and leg as your “main course”. You are then asked if you would like a flour or corn tortilla with it (or you can also choose  nacho chips). Then you can choose two of about 10 sides. The sides are awesome. They have things like black beans, steamed veggies, green salad, corn on the cob, and others. Some very healthy. All awesome. Then you can either add a drink or not. That’s it.

Sounds fairly simple, right? Trust me. It ain’t. At least not for some people.

Whenever I go into my local EPL, I always pray that their is either no line or that the line I am in is populated with people that have both been there before and that know what they want to order. God forbid they should be there for the first time or that they should be indecisive, because if either of those things is true, we’re going to be there a while. A long while.

What in the hell is so hard about ordering from a place like this? It is not La Tour D’Argent, people. There are no specials that require a lengthy discussion between the waiter and the patrons or between the patrons themselves as they try to determine who will order fish and who will order steak so that they can get a little “surf and turf action” going. It’s fast  freaking food people!

But you can count on it. Get behind the EPL neophyte and be ready for an excruciating wait. First will come the question of “can I have a breast and a thigh even though they don’t come together on the menu” (I believe the answer is yes, with a small upcharge off the lesser of the two menu costs). Then there will be something like “are your flour tortillas made with lard?”. “Are they fresh?” Then it’s on to the sides. “What vegetables come in your steamed veggies?” “What kind of container do you put the sides in? If it’s styrofoam, I don’t want that because I can’t recycle it easily.”

And on and on and on. I think I have seen people take less time to order off a menu in a bona fide Chinese restaurant where there were limited English explanations of what the menu items were. Good Lord people. This meal is only $6.00, but more importantly, I don’t want to starve to death while I am waiting on you to figure out your simple order.

In my fantasy world, when a person steps to the front of the line in my EPL, a digital clock starts running. Like the 24-second clock in the NBA. You get a reasonable amount of time to order. Let’s say it’s 2 minutes. This would take into account the picky teenager who isn’t sure they can choke down the mac and cheese because it looks icky. By all means, take the full 2 minutes. But if you haven’t completed your order by the time the 2 minutes are up, then BOOM. Back of the line with you, Jack.

I’m sure this will never happen. EPL, God bless their delicious chicken-making souls, is in business to make money. If they Soup Nazi-ed their customers they wouldn’t stay in business very long.

But PLEASE people, look at the menu before you get in line! Get at least a general idea of what you want. Get to the counter and ask a clarifying question or two. I get it. You want to understand what you’re ordering. But the waiter with the pepper mill isn’t coming by your booth. No sommelier is going to recommend a nice pinot noir. It’s a $6.00 meal. Order. Move. PLEASE!

3 Responses to “I’ve Got a Bone to Pick With People Who Aren’t Ready to Order”

  1. pledge trainer Says:

    We need the old guy from The Varsity. Whaddayahave? Whaddayahave? ………… NEXT!

  2. Lee Roi Jordan Says:

    As you know if you follow this blog, I am an Alabama backer. I just thank the good Lord we don’t have any of these Pollo Locos in Alabama. It’s not that I don’t appreciate fine poultry, but it pains me to think that if we did, we might find a haughty, big city fellow with a fast food neurosis standing impatiently in our lines.

  3. deepsthboy Says:

    Lee Roi, you are probably just the sort of indecisive boob that inspired this column. I know you are generally trying to make up your mind between fried chicken livers and a fried baloney sandwich, but if you ever stray from your usual culinary limitations and wander over to an EPL, just follow the instructions I have given here and you should be fine.

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