Family Food

PEE-can, PICK-ahn – the debate continues.

Here are some things that take about 30 minutes:

  • Viewing a network sitcom
  • Cooking some chicken
  • Watching about 1/10 of “Gone With the Wind”

Here is something that should NOT take 30 minutes:

  • Ordering fast food at a drive-through

My wife, son and I recently got to experience this unnecessary delay, and we would have been far more angry had it not been a comically amazing display of ineptitude.

It started at the speaker, where we placed our order. I ordered a few fairly standard items — cheeseburger, Coke, chicken nugget meal, vanilla milk shake, apple pecan chicken salad, and an unsweetened tea.

The voice from the speaker came back, “Sir, we don’t have that salad.”

I said, “It’s right there on the menu. Apple pecan chicken salad.”

A slight pause. “Um, we have a PEE-can chicken salad.” I know there are some distinct camps on the the pronunciation of “pecan.” I fall into the “pick-AHN” camp, and I don’t begrudge those who don’t. But I acknowledge they exist.

I looked at my wife. She was laughing too hard to help. I turned back to the speaker. “Yes, I meant the PEE-can salad.”

We pulled up. There was one car ahead of us. It took them about 15 minutes to get their order, and most everything that was passed to their car window was quickly sent back. This wasn’t going to end well.

So here’s a summary of the calamity that we then endured:

  • Handed an unsweetened tea. My wife tastes it. It’s sweet. Hand it back. Get a second. Also sweet. I hand it back. Dude at the window says, “Oh, that’s just how our unsweetened tea tastes.” No. No it does not. Third time an unsweetened charm.
  • Handed my Coke. Take a sip. Clearly Diet Coke. Hand it back. “Oh, that’s just how our Coke tastes.” No. No it does not. He says, “Look, that’s what came out of the Coke button.” Perhaps your Coke button is broken. He hands me another drink, and it is, miraculously, Coke.
  • Dude opens the window. “And you had a chocolate milkshake?” No, I told him. I am sure that, had he given me a chocolate milkshake, he would have said, “Oh, that’s just how our vanilla milkshakes are.”

After about five more minutes, I am growing increasingly, um, let’s just say, not happy. But still being nice. As is my way.

I leaned out my car window and motioned back to the car behind me and gave what I can only describe as the universal sign for, “I’m sorry I’m delaying everything but it’s not my fault because there is nothing but chaos inside.”

A manager saw me motioning and opened the window. “Everything OK?” he asked.

No, I told him. I said that we had been in line for, at that point, 26 minutes, and nothing we had gotten had been right on the first try. And occasionally the second try.

“But you have your food, right?”

That’s a big negative there, boss.

The manager said, “Hey, I apologize for the wait and everything. He’s new and learning.”

I responded, “He’s not ready, and you need to get him some help.” The manager give me the look of a gifted painter who knows what paints he has at his disposal to create his masterpiece. And he has a child’s dried up water color set.

A few minutes later, the manager returned and began handing us our food. I said, “I know the drive-through is backed up, but I’m going to check and make sure everything is right, since nothing has been right so far, OK?”

First bag. Salad – check. Second bag – nuggets – check. Third bag – Cheeseburger, some more nuggets, and some fries. I stared into the bag for a second.

“I threw some extra nuggets and fries into the last bag. I apologize for the wait.”

So at least the manager tried to make right by throwing us some nuggets and fries. I feel bad for the new employee, as he was clearly in over his head. Hey, maybe we were somehow to blame for setting everything off the rails. Maybe it all could have been avoided had I ordered a PEE-can salad from the start.

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Mt. Pleasant. You can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.


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