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Thursday, August 4, 2011

ka-ching with cheese

So here we are, back after a longer-than-planned hiatus, to get back to that magical Burger King summer of 1991. 
The day I was bumped up to the cash register was monumental, but at the time, I didn’t think it was such a big deal. After all, I had an concurrent evening job at Kerr Drugs and had already run registers for several weeks. Of course, those were ancient registers with no bar code scanner or credit card pad... every price and product code had to be entered by hand, and every credit card transaction required the use of the old-fashioned “chunk-chunk” slider device that imprinted the card number onto carbon receipts. But I’d mastered them, and surely the Burger King registers would be a breeze by comparison. Hell, we didn’t even accept credit cards at the BK. That alone had to make for smooth sailing.
But consider, if you will, the frustrated tinkerings of a bright young engineer charged with designing a fast-food cash register. He’s got to make tiny little buttons for each menu item. He’s got to include buttons that say small, medium, and large. Buttons that are pink and blue. He has a master’s degree. He is not happy.

This is not a real register, he huffs. Real registers actually input digits and make calculations. Ergo, if I must add a numerical keypad to this monstrosity, I guess I’m going to have to cater to the lowest common denominator of these rube employees... and make the keypad look like the one on a phone rather than the one on a calculator, because that’s what they’ll understand. 
I don’t know if this fictional imagining was close to reality, but suffice it to say that the Burger King register had the 1-2-3 keys on the top, and the Kerr Drugs register had the 1-2-3 keys on the bottom.
This made for a bit of confusion and adjustment, and for several nights after I started working these two very different registers, my dreams (if you could call them that) were nothing more than a single finger entering digits, over and over again.
At this point, you’re waiting for me to share another one of my valuable lessons learned during this adventure:
When you’re working fast-food, you have a stereotypical expectation that you will encounter disgusting things. And you will, just not where you think: it’s not the food, or even the garbage... it’s the soggy, sweat-drenched dollar bills handed to you by the construction workers who have been working in the summer sun. And when that happens, you realize how much worse it could be, and that you should be grateful to wear a hairnet as opposed to a hard hat.
Remember back in my “first day with cheese” post, when I stood in front of the mirror in my new uniform and tried to say welcome to Burger King but broke out laughing before I could get out Bur-? By mid-summer I could say it without laughing, but I didn’t really have to say much more than may I help you/take your order? at the register. 
At the drive-thru, however, I had a spiel, required for every car that pulled up to the speaker:
Thank you for choosing Burger King my name is Stephanie may I take your order?
And though I had no problem getting out the words, the replies to this question ranged from WHAT? to WHO LOVES YOU BABY? I LOVE YOU BABY! (this is absolutely true).
Which brings me to another important lesson:
You do not have to yell into a drive-thru speaker.
Yes, that giant transmitter/controller for the drive-thru headset you have awkwardly clipped to your polyester pants does indeed make your ass look fat.
It was a very, very educational summer.
Yes indeed. Welcome to me.

1 comment:

  1. I usually just read... but had to chime in to agree with - Polyester Pants and early 90's Fast Food Headset make everyone's ass look fat.