I had the misfortune of being hungry at a well known Melbourne railway station yesterday. I had travelled for a long distance and felt ravenous from the journey.
I had even decided to go for the closest approximation of food I could find - namely Hungry Jacks (Burger King in the US). I eat at fast food restaurants perhaps once a year - if I absolutely can't avoid it.
This time there was no turning back. My hunger pains were leading me in the direction of HJs and there was no stopping me. My partner was starving also and we had already worked out our order.
I spoke to the bespeckled and bepimpled character behind the counter, who I shall refer to as "P".
Me: "I'll have a vegie burger small meal deal with one extra vegie burger."
P: "Okay... is that medium or large meal deal?"
Me: "A small. With one extra vegie burger."
P: "Anything else?"
Me: "Yes, I'd like another vegie burger and a large onion rings."
P: "So that's two vegie burgers..."
Me: "No it's three vegie burgers altogether." (I run through the entire order again)
P: "Okay, so that's two vegie burgers...did you want coke?"
Me: "No, three vegie burgers. Yes, coke is fine."
P: "Okay, two vegie burgers and a coke."
Me: "Three vegie burgers. Three altogether."
P: "Two vegie burgers..." (she is getting annoyed now)
P: "Yeah. That's what I said!" (hands on hips and glaring at me)
Meanwhile the lady behind me (who shall be known as "K") was declaring very loudly that this restaurant should be condemned by the board of health.
"It's filthy!" she argued with the same bespeckled 16 year old genius who had served me.
The 16 year old was indignant.
P: "Well we have been very busy."
K: "That's not the point. It's a health hazard out there. Somebody needs to clean it up. Can I speak to your manager."
The manager came out, sporting perhaps a whole extra year on "P" and a few less pimples. She sent out someone to "clean up" which consisted of walking around the area once and finally moving one high chair two inches. The floor was still littered with wrappers, bits of pickle, all sorts of hideous things. The seats outside were so bad that my partner and I opted for the comfy spot near the doorway where everybody coming in can crash into your suitcases.
We finally got our food and sat down awkwardly. Taking a bite, we both looked up at each other and sighed.
The burgers were cold. Not just a bit cold but stone cold.
I got up, gathering the burgers and trudged back to the counter. By now my hunger was a raging fever and all that was standing between me and some food was "P".
Me: These burgers are cold. Could you possibly make us some hot ones?
P: (stares sullenly at me, grabs burgers, disposes of the burgers, mutters and has a private conversation with a weird looking guy)
This weird looking guy eyeballs me. I give him an inquisitive look as if to say "yes, I'm the one fussy person that expects 'flame grilled' Hungry Jacks burgers to be hot. Since flames are hot and all that."
I watch as this strange and suspicious person goes back into the kitchen (which I hoped was not as disgusting as the "restaurant" itself) and grabs some ingredients.
He assembles the ingredients. I watched him to make sure he didn't sully the burger out of spite. So far so good. It's a new burger. Things are looking up.
Then he lifts the burger up and puts it straight in the microwave. My heart and my shoulders sank. What did I expect exactly? A real flame grill? Any sort of attention to food preparation whatsoever?
The burgers WERE hot. Straight out of the microwave.
Except mine. A small quadrant of the burger was still stone cold.
Perhaps they should get their flame grilled microwave fixed.
Hungry Jacks Flame Grilled Burger