There are things in life we sometimes wish we never asked because their answers will inevitably bring even more questions. Down here, in Brazil, I have found three of these things, just by having dinner at McDonald’s yesterday night with my children.
MCDONALD’S LOWER STANDARDS
I was shocked to discover (unfortunately, once again!) that the McDonald’s restaurants are pretty dirty in this country. I have seen some restaurants with flies flying around the tables, dirty and gluing floor that seemed to have been cleaned for the last time about two weeks ago (maybe more!), dirty tables that had clearly not be cleaned between customers.
I mean, come on guys, is it so difficult to maintain a clean fast-food restaurant in Brazil? I have never seen such dirty McDonald’s outlets – not even the McDonald’s in Swiss Cottage, London, where I used to go a few years ago to use their easynet facility, and where the cleaning was pretty bad!
Well, some will say that, since I didn’t visit all the fast-foods in Brazil, I cannot put them all in the same basket. That’s true. But as far as I am concerned, after visiting three different locations, I have made my mind: no more McDonald’s in Brazil… Well, we can still go to their drive-through anyway!
I was equally shocked by McDonald’s employees work pace in their restaurants (in both big and small outlets by the way). They are soooooooooooo sloooooooooow!
As everywhere else in the world, when you get close to the till at a McDonald’s restaurant, while you are still trying to make your mind over ordering either a Big Mac or maybe a Bacon Double Cheese Burger, the employees suddenly call you, “Next, please!” “Hellooooo! Next, please!” They shout, within the limits of politeness. They are definitely stressing you out. You didn’t even make your mind yet. They didn’t give you time to think, that you already find yourself in front of them, ordering a Big Mac (even though you really felt like you could have that BDCB today… and you know you are making a big mistake… and you also know that you will regret it later… but you have got not time to waste, because the chap in front of you is putting pressure on you!), some fries and a coke. “Ok, your menu… Want it Medium, Large, Super Large, Mega Large, XXL?” They even ask at the end. And you automatically answer the last option because 1. you don’t quite remember the other options (it was so quick!), 2. the chap didn’t talk about the regular size you usually take, and you have no time to think whether they don’t offer it any longer or if it’s a marketing technique to make you pay for something you would not usually order (Bingo!), 3. the chap is already looking at the next customer behind you, putting even more pressure on you to answer his so simple question (there might be nobody behind you, but once again, you don’t really have the time to turn your head to look behind you… the chap wants an answer, and quick!).
So, all this to say that these guys put you under such stress for a simple order! Would you imagine that to happen at The Savoy? “Excuse me, Sir, what size do you want your steak tartare to be? Medium, Large, Super Large, Mega Large, XXL? Could you please make your mind forthwith, Sir, for I have six other tables waiting for me to take their orders.” Not really!
That’s of course the reason why we call McDonald’s a “fast-food” restaurant. Fast-order, fast-food-produced, fast-dispatch, fast-eating, fast-goodbye, fast-coming-back-another-time.
Well, with McDonald’s Brazil, it seems that the “fast” in “fast-food” has been lost somewhere. There is usually plenty of staff moving from the till to the kitchen, talking to each other, checking the orders, double-checking the orders, triple-checking the orders maybe…
In the end, you have in front of your eyes so many people working together, which is amazing in these times of economic crisis and world recession, but who are basically doing… absolutely nothing!
You stare at them and wait, wait, wait… Simple order… Big Mac, fries, coke… it shouldn’t take them more than probably 5 minutes. I remember a poster in a Burger King in Gloucester Road, London, about 10 years ago, in which it was written something along the lines of: “If it takes us more than 10 minutes to get your food on your tray, your lunch is free of charge.”
Well, if this rule was to apply down here, I would have free lunches every time I go to McDonald’s! Believe it or not, it usually takes them about 15 to 20 minutes to get everything done! Careful: I am not counting here the time for me to find a chair and sit, by which time my food would be already cold! Advice: if you are with your family, give your kids an iPad or something to get them distracted, otherwise they’ll find it really long to wait! To make them have a laugh, you could even tell them that if you were to send them a postcard, it might arrive to them before you get to sit with them with the food ready to eat! Not funny? Almost true though!
MCDONALD’S SAVES THE PLANET
Finally, the idea of saving the planet is something very common in Brazil. People feel concerned. They worry about the planet. So much so that McDonald’s has introduced another way to offer you napkins to clean your dirty hands and dirty mouth, during and after your lunch, in their restaurants. Instead of letting you take as many napkins as you want, they offer you a small pack with two or three napkins inside. Great!!!
But did they really think it through? What about the pack that has to be produced to protect the napkins? What is its impact on the environment? Well, McDonald’s claims on the pack itself that it is recyclable. But aren’t they polluting a little bit to produce them with their big factories???
I don’t know… I’m just asking!
There you go… three examples of things you want to ask (Why are McDonald’s so dirty in Brazil? Why are the employees so slow? Why do they offer you a pack of napkins if it too pollutes the planet anyway?), but you would rather not know the answers. Why not? Because you would get even more stressed over the answers, and that would bring you more questions, and more stress, and more answers that would stress you, and… etc… etc…
Big Mac, anyone?
[this article was first published on the TravelBlog:
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