OK, maybe I am McDonald’s?


Just kidding.  But Harmony and her husband are convinced that I am indeed McDonald’s, and that Harmony is a certified technological genius.  More on that later.

I was convinced by my friends & followers online to write to Mr. Kausky after his suggestion of thanking a soldier for the freedom to choose fast food.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you need to read “I AM NOT McDONALD’S” and “I’m still not McDonald’s“.

McDonald's on UrbanspoonAt any rate, this is how I chose to respond to the good-natured manager of the Canonsburg McDonald’s:

From: Waldo Lunar <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, Sep 7, 2011
Subject: Re: AiXeLsyD13 / W(aL)D – I’m not McDonald’s
To: Scott Kausky
Cc: pit.05834@us.stores.mcd.com, info@westliberty.mcdtoday.com, sandra.jaeger@gmail.com, krebs955@gmail.com, shovelman11@yahoo.com, pastorskid_tiwtc4u@yahoo.com, Ella.Jones@us.mcd.com, McDonaldsCorporation@mcd.com, McDonalds.CustomerCare@us.mcd.com, kathy.pieroni@us.mcd.com

Hello Mr. Kausky,

Pardon me if I’m misreading the tone of your email, but please calm down.  Have some dip.

My inclusion of you on the original email was because I’ve had pleasant dealings with you & your McDonald’s location in the past.  I’m convinced that you were instrumental in finally getting a response from Ms. Jones the last time I had an issue with the West Liberty Ave. McDonald’s location.  I read you as a man of action, with great pride in your company.

Perhaps you would be better off at a Chick-Fil-A?  They seem to treat their employees better, and you’d never work on Sundays.  You may not be so stressed & jumpy.  Ever notice they always say “My Pleasure” instead of “You’re Welcome” when you thank them?  I can’t decide if it’s awesome, or cult-like.  I’m pretty sure that no one at any McDonald’s ever has acted like it was their pleasure to give me a lopsided cheeseburger.  (Seriously, spot-check that stuff.  I haven’t done a formal study yet, but I’m guessing that 75% of the time, the pickles are stacked on one side of the burger, not placed side-by-side in the middle… and that 95% of the time, there is ketchup and/or mustard on the outside of the bun.)  Although, I have never seen an alarm clock with a subliminal cow penis at McDonald’s… even if you have poorly copied the Chick-fil-A sandwich.

I have four email addresses for people representing the West Liberty Ave. McDonald’s.  None of them have replied to my original email.  This shows lack of pride.  I’m sure you would be disappointed in their lack of response.  That’s…  pit.05834@us.stores.mcd.com, info@westliberty.mcdtoday.com, sandra.jaeger@gmail.com, & Ella.Jones@us.mcd.com.

I’m a concerned citizen, trying to help the confused yet adamant Harmony get in contact with the correct people.  Amber & Shirley need my help too.  Their complaints are valid, and think about this… out of the entire internet that exists out there… these people have managed to find my blog to submit complaints about what I can call possibly the most incompetent McDonald’s location ever.  It’s not their fault that they can’t tell that I am not McDonald’s.

Harmony has her own issues, as she can’t distinguish between an email address and a website… but that doesn’t change the fact that she was not offered a mango pineapple smoothie, and it took 15 minutes to get her additional sandwich and Rolo McFlurry while ¾ of the crew members where congregating by the drive-thru.  (Hopefully they weren’t conjugating… right?)  A mango pineapple smoothie sounds absolutely disgusting, but if Harmony wanted to be offered one that’s her right.

Speaking of rights, I’m not sure how I provoked the antagonistic patriotism and perceived lack of disrespect for our armed forces and freedom.  I apologize if I have offended you in any way.  Were you watching the History channel, election coverage, or perhaps drinking when you received my email?  (I’m not judging, I would imagine one would have to partake in the occasional sip of spirits in order to cope with the stress of running a McDonald’s on top of receiving emails from crazy people.)  

I am indeed glad that I have the freedom to rant about customer service issues and fast food quality on the internet.  You’re right though, I will indeed thank a soldier the next time I see them.  You’ll have to promise to instruct your fellow McDonald’s managers and employees to thank a soldier next time they see them too.  They need to thank them for the freedom to serve poorly constructed sandwiches, cold french fries, and for opportunities to congregate by the drive-thru while paying customers wait (im?)patiently.  While we’re at it, they should thank them for the freedom to dumb-down the populace by changing words like “through” to “thru” and “Night” to “Nite”.  I’m not positive, but I can only assume such offenses would not go unpunished in the former Soviet Union or current Communist blockades like China, one of the Koreas, or Cuba.  I can imagine one being caned in a Singapore McDonald’s for congregating by the drive-thru, or having ketchup fall on the outside of a bun.

At any rate, I would like to share with you my overall adventures in correspondence with McDonald’s.  I hope to amuse and amaze you in chronological order below:

Just so you don’t feel bad, check this one out:  Wendy’s in Dormont (Pittsburgh, PA) – W. LIBERTY #5

I hope you took the time to read all of the comments.  I am not McDonald’s, and I am not alone.  There are more (albeit less electronically vocal) of me out there.  We will not remain silent.  We will continue to consume your poorly assembled meals while grumbling under our breath.  We will contunite to have a mental block when it comes to actual time spent waiting for “fast food” to be prepared & served versus the perceived speed of choosing to dine at such establishments.  We will continue to craft poorly worded and misspelled messages and send them to the wrong people.  We will celebrate the fact that we have the freedom to do all of the above.

So, we have arrived to now.  What’s happening now, is happening now.  I hope you have enjoyed the ride.  Please keep all arms, legs, & other appendages inside the car until it comes to a complete stop.  Thanks for flying W(aL)D Airlines, may the force be with you.  (..and also with you, Amen.)

Your baffled consumer advocate,
-Eric AiXeLsyD
World (and Lunar) Domination

Heh.  I decided to go goofy at the end.  I got his reply, and have decided to leave this poor man alone.  Why?  He actually takes pride in his McDonald’s,  and seems to have a rare killer work ethic:

From: Scott Kausky <skausky33@verizon.net>
Date: Wed, Sep 7, 2011
Subject: Re: AiXeLsyD13 / W(aL)D – I’m not McDonald’s
To: Waldo Lunar <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>

Eric
I didn’t send the email you to upset you either.  I represent my McDonalds.  I was just stating the fact that our soldiers give us the freedom to complain.  I’m old fashioned perhaps, if I continued to have issues, I would simply not return.  Thats how I run my store.  We don’t want them to go else where so we do it right and fix the issues that arrive.  The stores that have issues generally might be due to the town they are in.  I appologize if no one responds to your emails.  All I know for sure is come visit in Canonsburg and I’ll make it right for you.  I enjoy my job and serving our customers.  Please dont use my email for any other reason.

With Respect

Scott Kausky

Respect is right.  Misguided patriotic rants aside, Scott Kausky is the man.  I encourage you to support this McDonald’s location.

We still have the little matter of harmony being convinced that I’m McDonald’s.  You can imagine my surprise as this came to my inbox slightly before Scott’s reply above:

From: krebs955@gmail.com <krebs955@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, Sep 7, 2011
Subject: Re: AiXeLsyD13 / W(aL)D – I’m not McDonald’s
To: Waldo Lunar <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>

I don’t have much to say about all this McDonald’s stuff, because I work at one currently and everybody else has said it. However, I will say that Harmony is my wife and she has no issues whatsoever. The reason we posted on your blog is because it was on the bottom of our receipt. She is not technologically challenged, and shame on you for assuming what other people’s problems and issues are.

Upon the arrival of this gem in my inbox, I was kind of speechless.  I was also paranoid.  Did they indeed pimp my blog’s address at the bottom of a McDonald’s receipt?  I would have declared this an absolute win for Ella Jones, Sandra Jaeger, and everyone else that doesn’t reply to emails at the West Libery Ave. McDonald’s.  I mean, really, how funny would that be?  Along those same lines… if this is a friend or reader yanking my proverbial crank; Kudos!  You totally got me.

If this is for real, then may God have mercy on your souls, …and mine for teasing you.  Can someone please help me explain this?  I thought I did that with my last blog post/email with the lines..

But, I must say that I’m confused.  You didn’t email anyone, you used the contact form at my website: https://aixelsyd13.wordpress.com

Is that what appears at the top of the receipt?

I’m guessing that more than likely it says “ella.jones@us.mcd.com” at the top of your receipt.  I’m not Ella Jones.  You didn’t email me.  You didn’t email Ella Jones.  You did a Google (or Bing) search for the email address, and landed on my page.

McReceipt 09/07/2011

I don't see my email address or blog url on here anywhere. Do you?

Can someone help me simplify that?  Should I even bother at this point?  I’m confused.  Just in case Harmony or her husband find their way back here, I did have to satisfy my curiosity.  I stopped & got two sweet teas tonight, just to get a receipt.  You can seethe full receipt to the left.

It thankfully (and I’ll admit… somewhat disappointingly) does not include my email address or my blog’s web address.

Which one of my theories do you think is the case here?  Do you think they found my blog, & were insulted?  I mean no disrespect.  I’m just trying to help here.  At this point, I’m assuming Shirley and Amber will remain clueless until the end of time.  I have yet to receive a reply from either of them, and doubt I will.  And, I doubt that I’ll ever hear from Ella Jones or Sandra Jaeger.

I also hope that Harmony’s husband doesn’t work at the West Liberty McDonald’s, and that her going online to complain (“complaine”?) about his corporate employer doesn’t cause some sort of marital rift.

Perhaps a visual aid will help demonstrate:

Trust me, I am not McDonald's.

Trust me, I am not McDonald's.

I don’t think I’ll ever convince them.  Think I can get a McDonald’s hat or something?  Maybe a name tag?  Something?  Perhaps I should just start writing back to people pretending that I am indeed McDonald’s.

McDonald's on Urbanspoon To compound & confound even more, this is what happened on my latest adventure into this McDonald’s on a mission to obtain a receipt & ultimately verify that I am not McDonald’s:

I pulled into the parking lot somewhere around 8:30pm and the lot was quite full.  Most of the cars in the lot were at the outer edge, toward the bottom of the lot, and most likely there for Malone’s Too or Señor Frog’s or whatever that bar is called this week… blatantly ignoring the signs to the effect of “McDonald’s Parking Only” or whatever.  I even saw a guy walk out of the bar into his car.  Oh well, that’s not really in their control… or is it?

The drive through lanes were both backed up pretty hard, and I’m sure people were cutting in front of each other unhindered as usual… so I opted to just pull into a parking spot & go inside.  Bad move?  Perhaps.

Once inside, I took my place in line behind a woman and her daughter at the one open/operating register, and a lone dude in front of me.  The woman & daughter were mid-order, and there was something going on about apple pies being dropped (in what I can hopefully assume was the fryer) and only one pie being avaiable.  They were told there would be an approximate 10 minute wait, but that “it goes fast”.  The woman slid to the side as her daughter went to fill their drinks, and I assume find a table.

While this was happening, I saw another McDonald’s employee come up to a register, glance annoyedly at me and the dude in front of me, hit some buttons, then walk away.  I’m sorry.  Do these employees know that to make money, McDonald’s sells what they pass off as food… and that in order to pay her salary they need to sell vast amounts of lopsided hamburgers with ketchup all over the outside of the bun?  I was surprised at how backed up things had become as the drive-through appeared quite frantic & another potential customer came in behind me during a completely non-meal-rush time of day.

Leaving the sole struggling fellow employee at the line register kind of seemed like what I would call a “dick move“.  Alas, the mother moved to the left, and slid her tray containing rapidly cooling french fries along with her.  Up next?  Dude in front of me.

Dude must have also ordered apple pies… as he was told they just dropped.  When he asked what that meant, he was told that it meant there would be a ten minute wait for apple pies.   Was the young lady at the register trying to use a Jedi mind trick to dissuade the man from ordering apple pies?  I’m guessing that she was simply telling a customer that they didn’t want what they ordered.  I honestly don’t know why anyone would want to order one of those nasty mucus-like hot-pockets that are supposed to resemble a pie… but if he was willing to shell out his hopefully hard-earned cash for them, I say give them to the man!  Order begrudgingly placed, and man moves to the left… overcrowding the woman with her lone order of increasingly algid fries.

I was up!  Finally.  I was asked what I wanted to order, I requested two sweet teas.  I was actually told “Oh, thank you for being an easy one” much to the dismay of the dude directly to my left.  He was visibly not amused.  I struggled to internally process what had caused such dismay in the poor girl behind the counter as I was handed my receipt… but I was (and still am) at a loss.

Mission complete.  I had a receipt in my hand.  My name, email address, and blog url are not on the receipt.  Success!  “Just give me my cups” I thought, as the girl walked away.  A kid was leaving his shift… she told him goodbye and proceeded to walk over and talk to the remaining employees about how popular the departing employee was this evening.  It somehow turned into a rant about thinking that someone was going to come through the drive-through window at her.  Perhaps some other unsatisfied customers earlier this evening?

Then one of the other employees told the girl who had taken my order that it was time for her break.  “Break?” she exclaimed, and started to leave.  The one with some semblance of sanity said “but first I need you to take care of all these orders.”

I tried to shift to my left, but apple pie guy was holding his ground as I blatantly invaded his personal space.  Perhaps his movement was hindered by the woman in front of him with ice fries.  The woman behind me was a champion.  She pushed ahead to the register like a metal fan in a mosh pit.  I think her purse touched my bum.  I just want some cups.  The girl who took my order looked at me quizzically.  Perhaps I looked befuddled.  I know where the drink station is.  I know how to get ice.  I know how to work the knob on the iced tea dispenser.  I just need two of those Styrofoam sweet tea cups.  At this point, any cups will do.

Steely in her resolve to go on break, or perhaps obliviously, she took the order of the woman behind me.  Snack wraps.  She broke the code.  No apple pies.  Smart move, purse push lady.  Smart move.  The order was punched in, and she started to yet again walk away.

“C… Can I just have some cups?”  The words were out of my mouth before my brain knew that I was forming them.  I don’t know if I was anxious, or this was my flight response in order to remove myself from the chaos all around me.  The girl who took my order paused, and looked at me.  I’m sure ice fries and pie guy looked at me too, wondering why I should get my hands on some sweet tea before they were handed their precious disgusting pies.  For a split second, I was almost scared.  Had I crossed a line?  Had I invoked the wrath of a McDonald’s employee mere moments late for her break?

Relief.  She grabbed two Styrofoam cups and filled them with ice, then went back to her conversation about the drive through window or something that seemed to annoy her fellow employees.

The girl who had looked at us with disdain earlier while tapping a few buttons on the register reappeared, and asked ice fries what she was waiting for.  Ice fries lady (who’s daughter probably had come to terms by now that she was surely abandoned) said something to the effect of… “I’m waiting for pies, but can I have my sandwiches now, & have someone bring out the pies?”  This was like a record skipping in a TV show.  Several employees stopped and looked at her.  I’m not sure if there was an answer… but I did hear that “the pies would be ten minutes.”  Surely three to five of those ten minutes had already passed, but who was I to argue?

“Hooolllly coooowww!”  I did it again.  The words escaped me before I could contain them.  Damn you, Ernie and the Berts practice, for amping me all up.  By this point, I was looking around for hidden cameras.  Was I on a TV show?  I think I heard pie guy say “I know” but perhaps he feared the wrath of a pie-less future as it was almost imperceptible.

I was handed my iced teas… I’m guessing the tea dispensers over by the pop machines aren’t filled at night?  Makes sense.  Even though there was one of me and I ordered two drinks…  I wasn’t offered a drink carrier.  I wasn’t handed straws or napkins.  I sure as heck wasn’t going to ask for any.

I hastily made my was over to the condiment & drink station, got some straws & napkins, then walked back past the counter to the exit, ice fries, pie guy, and snack wrap lady still there… probably envious of my escape to sweet freedom.

I couldn’t help it.  As I walked by, I muttered a sing-song like “♪♫ Good luuu-uuck… ♪♫” to my fellow McConsumers.  I hope they were amused.

Eu não sou McDonald’s. Ich bin nicht McDonald’s. Io non sono McDonald’s. Jag är inte McDonalds. Je ne suis pas McDonald’s. Jeg er ikke McDonalds. Mimi si McDonald ya. Nem vagyok McDonald’s. Nid wyf yn McDonald’s. Nie jestem McDonalda. Níl mé McDonald’s ar. Non est McDonald’s. Yo no soy McDonald. Δεν είμαι της McDonald’s. Я не Макдональдс. אני לא מקדונלד ‘ס. मैं मैकडॉनल्ड्स नहीं हूँ. 저는 맥도날드 아닙니다. 我不是麦当劳。 私はマクドナルドではない。

So, do you guys cater?


I recently had some correspondence with Panera Bread (The Great Panera Bread Swindle & Panera responds to my insanity, so I write back…), and I still have no reply to my last email.  I assume they think I’m an idiot and will not continue any further correspondence.  The experience reminded me of being bombarded with catering advertisements when I’m already at a restaurant.  I called out a few other places, but Boston Market does the same thing with the catering barrage.  I have a long history with them & letters, pre-dating my WordPress blogging days even.

At any rate, it struck me that they both seem to be fighting (or at least nagging) for catering business.  If we’re already in the store, and signed up for your mailing lists… we probably know that you will cater if needed.  How about focusing the catering advertising on local businesses around each location?

Or, I have a more interesting solution…

From: Waldo Lunar <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, Aug 10, 2011
Subject: So, do you guys cater?
To: RCordova1@bost.com, isabella.contactus@panerabread.com

Ciao Colossal Catering Czars!

I can’t help but feel overwhelmed lately when I visit any of your fine establishments.  I just go there to get a meal, but you have mercilessly force-fed your catering services to me and throngs of other customers in the form of signage on the wall, window-clings, pamphlets, menus, table signage, place-mats, tweets, & emails.  I get it.  I feel like I’m in a giant commercial every time I walk into one of your previously welcoming establishments.  (Bob Evans is highly annoying with the take-out mantra too, but they’re not quite as relentless in their efforts.)  I applaud your tenacity, Panera Bread and Boston Market.  Despite your valiant and exasperating efforts, I have not yet used either of you to fill my catering needs.  In fact, I don’t have any catering needs.  I’m able to make a sandwich spread, some soup, a salad, & even prepare a holiday meal… all for less money than what you can offer, and it has the added bonus of being homemade.

Your incessant plugging of your catering service smacks of so much desperation, that it struck me with an idea.  You’re both figuratively fighting for my dollar, why not an actual fight for my dollar?  I’m not suggesting fisticuffs, although your frequency of mentioning catering services suggest that you may indeed jump right in.  I’m suggesting you each prepare a meal for a party, and I will only pay the not-quite-fast-food chain that makes the best meal.  Fight for my dollar!  Sorry, I can’t really contain my excitement at the prospect of such a tournament.  I bet we could get a reality TV show in on this.  If not, I could certainly get someone with a digital camera, and we could post the contest & the results on YouTube.  I’m sure it would go viral.  Can you imagine the bragging rights?

The judges would be those in attendance to my party.  You can certainly do your own background checks and interviews to ensure no partiality or preconceived bias.  I can even leave myself out of the proceedings, as I find you both equally annoying with the catering propaganda.  I could write up a review/summary at the end of the experience.  The only thing you would have to lose is the cost of catering a small party… but the potential to gain respect and more advertising for your catering services.  I’m enabling you, my friends.  I can feel the hunger dwelling deep within you.

I can assure you of my impartiality, as I have hosted several Chili Cook-off events at my home, and have photos to prove it.  I can provide you with copies of our ballots to show our proficiency in scoring food vs. food on several points.  We would of course have to devise a system to compare the proverbial Boston Market apples to Panera Bread oranges, but you can trust my ingenuity on the matter, and can employ a crack team of analysts.

This would be epic, my friends.  Imagine being  a pioneer in this type of event!  What would be next?  Qdoba vs. the Honey Baked Ham Co.?  The KFC bucket vs. your local grocery store’s prepared foods?  If you don’t like my idea, I may sign you up for my mailing list under the guise of getting coupons for my awesome letter-writing and ingenious idea services… only to solicit and re-solicit this very idea ad nasueam.  Using your own logic, you will have no choice but to comply!

Or, you could just have your CEO’s arrange a fist-fight in some parking lot, and I’ll literally give the winner a dollar.

Thank you for your time, I really hope that you give my idea serious consideration.  I will be ready when you say yes to the event.  We can work out the event and the details quite easily.  I actually have a “Batman movie night” coming up, and it would be great to cater that.  (Although, my wife may be making some Batman logo cookies… but we’ll make sure no one can vote for her catering services, she would most likely win hands-down with Batman cookies at a Batman movie party.)

May the best chain win!
-ERiC AiXeLsyD
Vaunted food contest professional.

Panera wrote back first…

Date: Wed, Aug 10, 2011
Subject: RE: Contact Us [Something not on this list] — MESSAGEID(288118)
To: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com

Dear Waldo,

Thank you for taking the time to contact Panera Bread. We are sorry to hear about your disappointment with our catering advertising. The current promotion is simply one way to let our catering customers know that the option is available. We always strive to provide a wonderful meal, great service and a welcoming environment for our all our customers and hope that you will continue to enjoy Panera Bread. I will let our Marketing decision makers know how you feel, so that your opinion will be considered.

Thanks again for contacting us. We appreciate your business and value your comments.

Sincerely,
Isabella
Customer Comment Coordinator

Oh yeah, Waldo?  With Google+ getting all crazy & stuff, I didn’t want to merge my “regular” Gmail address with the fake one, so I change the W(aL)D email name to Waldo Lunar.  So, my email comes as Waldo Lunar, but I still signed it “Eric AiXeLsyD”.

From: Waldo Lunar <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Aug 11, 2011
Subject: Re: Contact Us [Something not on this list] — MESSAGEID(288118)
To: Isabella <isabella.contactus@panerabread.com>

Thanks Isabella,

I’m glad that you understand my frustration at being pummeled with advertising, and that you’re willing to pass the sentiment along to the appropriate parties.  I applaud you for your efforts, and the swiftness with which you replied!  I’m on the fence with Panera bread due to this whole “holding the dressing” thing, and the “healthy” chicken noodle soup debacle.  I mean, those homemade-looking noodles were awesome.  The little square things lying sparsely in the greasy broth are sad little stabs into my heart.  Perhaps I must move on to the broccoli soup.

Has anyone else written to you in regards to the barrage of advertising?  More importantly — Is Panera interested in the catering “battle royale” that I proposed?  If we can get Boston Market on board, I think this will be a stellar time.  You were much more expeditious with your reply.  I trust that you believe in your brand/product enough to put it to the test?  I can try to get some TV people on board once I get confirmation from the principal parties.  I’m sure you can see from my first email that I’ve already put much thought into the logistics.  The prospect of it all has me quite excited.

Thank you once again for your time and diligent response.  Have a great day, and I hope to hear from you again soon!

Hungry,
-ERiC AiXeLsyD
Vaunted food contest professional.

I sort of got a response from Boston Market…

From: <sbrooks1@bost.com>
Date: Thu, Aug 11, 2011
Subject: Boston Market suggestion response
To: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com

Good Afternoon

Thank you for submitting your suggestion to our catering department. We certainly appreciate the time you took to write and do value all customer feedback. Upon receipt of this information, I will create a report and forward your comments to the Market Leader for your region and our Marketing Department for consideration.

Again thank you for your feedback

Syrenia Brooks
Guest Contact Center Specialist

Huh?  I smell a standard “please don’t bother us” email here.  I still think my idea has merit, and I want a catering throw-down.  Think I can push it any further?  I’ll certainly try.

Chick-fil-A CARES


I told you there were more!

Somewhat humorously, the slowest responses from Chick-fil-A have been from the webform & customer service email address.  I pulled out all the stops in tracking down & emailing every available Chick-fil-A email address, because you never know if you’re going to get a response from some companies.

I started with the webform:

From:world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com
To:Chick-fil-A.CARES@p67ix100.na.ko.co
CC:
Sent: 02/07/11
Subject: Chick-fil-A Web Form Message

Hello,

I have a photo that I’d like to send with comments.  Do you have an email that I may write to directly without the cumbersome contact form?

Thank you for your time,
-ERiC AiXeLsyD

And I got this reply…

From: Chick-fil-A CARES <chickfilacares@na.ko.com>
Date: Fri, Feb 18, 2011
Subject: Chick-fil-A Response
To: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com

Dear Mr. AiXeLsyD: 

 

Thank you for taking the time to contact Chick-fil-A.  You are very important to us, and we appreciate your inquiry regarding submission of a photo.  We hope the following information will be helpful.

Thank you for wanting to share this photo with us. If you will respond to this email and attach the photograph, then we will receive and submit to Marc Osborne, Operator of the Robinson location.

Again, thank you for your time and interest in Chick-fil-A.

Sincerely,

Margaret
Chick-fil-A CARES
Chick-fil-A…We Didn’t Invent The Chicken,
Just The Chicken Sandwich.
On the Web at www.chick-fil-a.com

P.S.  Please retain your ticket number.  This will help us locate your information should you need us again.

{ticketno:[8000257615]}

So, I sent them this:

From: ERiC AiXeLsyD <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, Feb 20, 2011 at 5:55 PM
Subject: Re: Chick-fil-A Response
To: Chick-fil-A CARES <chickfilacares@na.ko.com>

Hello & thanks for the email!

My original comments & the photo referenced are attached.

Can’t wait to hear from you!  (Oddly enough… the absolute 1st to reply to my email was Dan Cathy himself!  The webform is quite slow in comparison to emailing Mr. Cathy directly.)

Rock on!

-E.

No response so far.

But, I did email the original message to chickfilacares@na.ko.com just to see if I got a response.  I did.

From: Chick-fil-A CARES <chickfilacares@na.ko.com>
Date: Fri, Feb 18, 2011
Subject: Chick-fil-A Response
To: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com

Dear Mr. Aixelsyd:

Thank you for taking the time to contact Chick-fil-A. We are grateful that you provided your encouraging comments regarding our tasty food, the friendly customer service and our Cow Campaign.

I would like to assure you that your thoughtful message has been shared with the appropriate parties at Chick-fil-A.

Again, thank you for your time and interest in Chick-fil-A.  We are grateful to know that you love Chick-fil-A, and we look forward to serving you in the future.

Sincerely,

Margaret
Chick-fil-A CARES
Chick-fil-A…We Didn’t Invent The Chicken,
Just The Chicken Sandwich.
On the Web at www.chick-fil-a.com

P.S.  Please retain your ticket number.  This will help us locate your information should you need us again.

{ticketno:[8000257737]}

I wonder if Margaret realizes that she wrote back to the same nutjob twice?

Chick-fil-A is so freakin’ polite.


You read my post, (The not so) Holy Cow!, right?  Well, I’ve gotten a few more replies from within the Chick-fil-A organization.  While none are as cool as getting one from Dan Cathy himself, they’re all amusing in that they won’t quite mention that the cow’s front leg totally looked like a penis.

I emailed a bunch of random Chick-fil-A email addresses that I was able to find via Google, and soem local places.  This was the first response after Mr. Cathy:

From: Circle Centre Mall <circle.center.mall@chick-fil-a.com>
Date: Tue, Feb 8, 2011
Subject: RE: “SPICEE CHIKIN BISKITZ” Alarm Clock Table Ad
To: ERiC AiXeLsyD <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Eric,

I’m actually in a mall. The marketing material in question is not in use at our store so I hadn’t seen it.

Interesting observation!

Not sure what feedback you’d received from others, but, at least for me, it hasn’t been an issue.

Thanks for being a Fan of Chick-fil-A!

Sam

So, basically… “It wasn’t me!”  But, “Interesting observation!” must mean, “Wow, that does look like a penis!”

I wrote back to Sam, but have yet to receive any more correspondence from him:

From: ERiC AiXeLsyD <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, Feb 16, 2011
Subject: Re: “SPICEE CHIKIN BISKITZ” Alarm Clock Table Ad
To: Circle Centre Mall <circle.center.mall@chick-fil-a.com>

Thanks Sam,

I found them amusing.  I did only hear back from the local Chick-fil-A, and interestingly enough directly form Dan Cathy himself.  Now, that’s customer service!

Watch out for over-excited cows, my friend!

-ERiC

Then, I had a nice exchange with local Chick-fil-A employee Rebecca Thornsbury, whom I have contacted before:

From: Chick-fil-A South Hills <cfasouthhills@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Feb 14, 2011
Subject: Re: “SPICEE CHIKIN BISKITZ” Alarm Clock Table Ad
To: ERiC AiXeLsyD <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>

Hello Eric.  Thank you for the feedback.  I sent your email onto our Creative Team within Marketing at our Corporate Office.  They emailed back today that they received it and will look into it.  Also thank you for the nice compliments.

We really appreciate you being a fan of Chick-fil-A.

Talk to you soon,

Rebecca Thornsberry
Marketing Director

Chick-fil-A at South Hills
1620 Washington Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15241
Store- 412-833-1165
Cell- 412-443-5534
www.chick-fil-a.com/southhills

They really are always happy for the compliments of my first email.   I wrote back to my new old friend…

From: ERiC AiXeLsyD <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, Feb 16, 2011
Subject: Re: “SPICEE CHIKIN BISKITZ” Alarm Clock Table Ad
To: Chick-fil-A South Hills <cfasouthhills@gmail.com>

Hello Rebecca,

I haven’t heard form the creative team in marketing at the corporate office yet, but I did get an email from Mr. Dan Cathy himself!  That’s what I call service!

I would be interested to see if anyone else saw the same thing I did.  Maybe it’s more like a Rorschach test for a dirty mind, and I’m the odd man out.  Although, my wife saw the same thing.

I’m glad you like the compliments, and can assure you that they’re well-deserved!  I didn’t hear back from the Robinson CFA, but that’s where we saw the humorous (or amorous?) cow clock.  Your store is generally much cleaner and more pleasant… so a response from you & not from them isn’t a surprise.

Just writing this email I’m already hungry for some chicken nuggets.

Thanks for writing!
-ERiC

I’m telling you, it looks like a penis.

From: Chick-fil-A South Hills <cfasouthhills@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Feb 17, 2011
Subject: Re: “SPICEE CHIKIN BISKITZ” Alarm Clock Table Ad
To: ERiC AiXeLsyD <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>

Hello Eric.  It is nice to hear that Dan Cathy wrote you.  Chick-fil-A is a great company and cares about what the customers think.  I am not sure if the Marketing Team will be writing you or not.  When they emailed me back, they said they would pass it along to the creative people and make note of it.

We have had no one else mention anything about the clocks.  A lot of the kids that eat in our restaurant really liked them and moms asked if they could take them home.  I had mentioned in my feedback to Chick-fil-A that it was a hard table topper because people moved the arms around and then they broke very easily.

Thanks again for the feedback and we’ll see you soon!

Rebecca Thornsberry
Marketing Director

Chick-fil-A at South Hills
1620 Washington Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15241
Store- 412-833-1165
Cell- 412-443-5534
www.chick-fil-a.com/southhills

“Mom, can I take home the cow alarm clock where his arm is swinging around from his waist?  Sure, one arm broke off, but that’s OK.  It just needs the one.”

Although, it does seem that Dan Cathy is a swell guy.  I wonder when he’s going to be on that Undercover Boss show?  A PR team needs to put him to work with a gay Chick-fil-A employee.

I have a few more, but I’ll save them for another post.

 

Al Armcock

Al Armcock

Coupon Frustration


We clip coupons.  Why not, right?  If I’m going to get something cheaper for a minimal effort, why not?  It makes sense.

What doesn’t make sense, is the supposed value that coupons represent.  They seem more like advertisements to me… to get you to buy a product, or to get you into the food joint & make you buy more stuff than you need since you’re getting something for free anyway.  So, I guess from that end, they do make sense to the coupon presenter.

To me, they fall in two categories, restaurant coupons and grocery coupons…. and there are several sub-categories thereafter.

Any more, they seem to be useless unless it’s something straight-up for free with no catches… or a straight dollar (or cents) amount off of one item.  I don’t want or need to buy two packs of hot dogs to save a dollar.  I don’t ever need two quarter-pounders or big roast-beef sandwiches.

Brand-name coupons usually don’t seem to bring the price down enough to compete with the off-brand, or the store brand.  On some things, like Heinz Ketchup, the difference is important… but on others like laundry soap… I really don’t see the difference between Tide or All or Cheer or Purex the plethora of other ones out there.

Fast food coupons seem to be the most frustrating… now that everyone has value meals or value combos or combo meals, why are they still giving out “free fries” or “free side” coupons?  You always need to purchase a sandwich and a drink to get the free side… which puts you at the price of the combo meal anyway… possibly more if you were going to “up-size” at all.

The breakfast ones are the best deals… most likely because no one is coming in for breakfast.  We know this is just to get us in the door.

Perhaps I’m pessemistic.  I’d like to put some research into seeing how much these kinds of coupons actually save you.  I know… fast food is an evil that I ought to just avoid anyway according to my friend Dave.  I know he’s right, but I seem to fall into the trap anyway.

Do you find coupons to ever be useful?  Are they ever for something you were going to get anyway, or are you settling for something other than what you would order otherwise?  Have you ever gone somewhere with a coupon, then pocketed it because there was a better deal existing already, or the savings really weren’t worth not getting exactly what you wanted?

 

 

 

May the Schwartz be with you, always.


Well, I still haven’t gotten around to sending the snail mail version of my Spaceballs Special Edition in 3D idea… but I did pop it off to a few other email addresses.  Of those, they did go to the dudes at Spaceballs: The Prequel.  Sadly, as I write this, that site is no more.  They seem so share my affinity for the odd, as illustrated by this excellent response…

from Aaron Dietz <aarondietz@gmail.com>
to Arik Cearbhall <arikcearbhall@gmail.com>
cc slave2moonlight@yahoo.com
subject Re: Spaceballs 3D – featuring more Yum! Brands characters?

Friends and mighty allies,

It gives me great pain to share that Dark Quino and I (Dark Aaron) will be closing down spaceballstheprequel.com within a month. We thought a lot about the decision and ultimately decided to move on to other projects. This is not because a prequel or other way of furthering the Spaceballs franchise is not merit-worthy! On the contrary, it’s still a fine idea, and it should be done.

However, after many years of fighting the fight, we have agreed to let the project rest.

Sadly, Arik, we were never able to get a personal reply from Mel Brooks, or even anything substantial from his studio. We do take partial credit in promoting Spaceballs enough that they created an animated series for it, but that’s as far as we got.

I wish you the best of luck with your idea, Arik. It is worthy of many exclamation points!!!!!

Love the R2D2 parody-character–yes, let’s put the soul back into the franchise with the most important piece! And Argbar–oh my, there’s no way that wouldn’t be on YouTube, and in people’s heads, and everywhere. Argbar is my new favorite uncreated character. Nice work!

Best to you all. And keep in touch about Spaceballs news at my other e-mail address: aarondietz@gmail.com (darkaaron@spaceballstheprequel.com will soon be going away).

May the Schwartz be with you, always.

Aaron (no longer Dark Aaron)

Heh.  That’s by far the best reply!  Although, the letter from Michael Winslow’s agent saying that Michale would be involved is funny on a whole different level…

Just in case you forgot….

Spacesalls Special Edition in 3D Character Designs

Spacesalls Special Edition in 3D Character Designs

I also wrote back to Rebecca Thornsberry at Chick-fil-A, you may remember that she suggested that I call corporate

Arik Cearbhall <arikcearbhall@gmail.com>  wrote:

Hello Rebecca,

Thank you for the quick & informative reply, even though this doesn’t have much to do with you!  Have you ever seen Spaceballs?  Are you a Mel Brooks fan?

I really appreciate the corporate phone number, but do you have an email contact there?  I prefer to communicate by email, as I have an intense fear of the telephone.

Good luck with your local Chick-fil-A, you’re consistently the most polite fast food chain, even via email!

Dink Dink, Dink Dink Dink… Dink. Dink. Dink,
Arik

And got another reply…

from Chick-fil-A South Hills  <cfasouthhills@gmail.com>
to Arik Cearbhall <arikcearbhall@gmail.com>
subject Re: Spaceballs 3D – featuring more Yum! Brands characters?

Hello Arik.  I do not have an email address for anyone because I am not sure who to send you to.  Just call that 1-800-CFA-CARE number and ask for someone in the marketing department.  That is what i would start with or they might be able to give you an email address. Since you are calling the corporate office, I was suggest actually calling at first.

Good luck,
Rebecca Thornsberry
Marketing Director

Chick-fil-A at South Hills
1620 Washington Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15241
Store- 412-833-1165
Cell- 412-443-5534
www.chick-fil-a.com/southhills

They’re so polite, even in their replies to obviously insane emails.

Spaceballs Special Edition in 3D


So, if you’ve been following the Yum! Brands saga, you know that I’ve been messing with them for a while on both legitimate and goofy levels, and that I had this idea a while ago.  I finally acted upon it.  I had to set up an alias to do it, as I’m sure most of my contacts just cringe when email from me hits their inbox.  Mel Brooks either doesn’t have an email address, or it’s a closely guarded one… as it’s very difficult to find anything for him.  I may have to print this out & snail mail it.  I’m sure it has the potential to get a funny reply.

I see, your Shwatrz is as big as mine…

from: Arik Cearbhall <arikcearbhall@gmail.com>
to: [All kinds of people]
subject: Spaceballs 3D – featuring more Yum! Brands characters?
mailed-by: gmail.com

Hello my friends,

At last we meet again for the first time for the last time.

I write to you today with a revelation regarding Spaceballs. It is my belief that something needs to be done before George Lucas releases Star Wars in 3D, Spaceballs needs to have a re-vamped special edition (like the Star Wars ones released in 1997), possibly even jumping in to 3D before Star Wars.

The reason that I’m writing to both “Yum! Brands” and MGM employees is because I can’t find a good email address for Mel Brooks. Does Mel have an email address?

MGM still owns the rights to the movie, correct? Also, I address “Yum!” because, as you well know, two characters that are parodies of “Yum! Brands” brands appear quite prominently in the Spaceballs saga. If you don’t know, here’s some help from Wikipedia:

  • Pizza the Hutt, named after the pizza restaurant chain, is a half-man, half-Pizza Mafioso and a parody of Jabba the Hutt. He forces Lone Starr to pay one million credits to him. By the end of the film, however, a “news segment” watched by Lone Starr and Barf reveals that Pizza got locked in his limo and ate himself to death, thus meaning Lone Starr and Barf won’t have to pay anymore. The voice of Pizza the Hutt is performed by Dom DeLuise.
  • Colonel Sandurz[8] is a parody of the leading Imperial Officers from Star Wars, such as Veers and Piett or Grand Moff Tarkin. ‘Colonel’ is his rank; however, ‘Kernel’ is his real name. His name is a pun on KFC‘s founder Colonel Sanders. (At one point, Dark Helmet taunts him into action, saying, “What’s the matter, Colonel Sandurz? Chicken?“)

I believe that the Schwartz has aligned because at the time of the filming of Spaceballs, these were parodies of two wholly separate fast food companies. (Or were PepsiCo or TriCon in control at that point?) Now, they are just two of many systems in the “Yum!” galaxy, if you will.

The opportunity exists to film news scenes and digitally insert new characters… and in the spirit of the original; “Moichandizing! Moichandizing! Moichandizing!” I still never did get Spaceballs, the flamethrower. We are at a point in time with advertising and merchandising where a once preposterously offensive idea would now be considered almost normal.

This could be a huge cross-promotional tie-in empire, and may even save MGM from its current financial woes. I propose a set of new characters, new scenes, and new toys/products…

New Characters:

  • AN-UU (pronounced “Ay – en – double – you”), the fearless side-kick to Dot Matrix. After all, this is the most obvious glaring omission from the original Spaceballs movie. Yeah, you can combine Luke & Han, but you can’t drop R2-D2! He is the undeniable (albeit mechanical) heart of the Star Wars franchise. Imagine, he could be like a little root-beer bottle or vending machine shaped droid.
  • Tako Juan Bellobi, Lone Star’s other mentor, who gives him the Schwartz ring saying it was his father’s, then sends him to Yogurt to learn how to use it. Living in a desert, the Mexican tie-in, a colorful Mexican-styled blanket instead of the Jedi robe… a “Stinking Badges” Blazing Saddles reference, a cojones joke or two, this could be a comedic gold mine.
  • Long Jon Argbar, arguably one of the most recognizable internet memes of all time would be Admiral Ackbar’s “It’s a Trap!”. This simply cannot be ignored. Long John Silver and Admiral Ackbar would be a perfect mix given their similar aquatic nature. I see the character almost like Davy Jones from Pirates of the Carribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. Also, if we want to get super nerdy, I have derived the name Argbar from (obviously) Ackbar and the Latin for silver, argentum. Tie in fictional pirates’ proclivity to exclaim “Argh” or “Arg” or “Arrrr”, and we have a win-win-win situation.
  • The Wing Fleet – Not a character per-say… but a play on Tie-fighters and X-Wings, a rebel alliance and empire (“Yum!”-pire?) ought to be created… legions of the Spaceballs’ fighters could be shaped like chicken wings and fly out of a large bucket on top of the ship.

(Please see my character design concepts in the attached *.jpg)

New Scenes/Bits/Gags:

  • To parody the interrogation scene from Star Wars: A New Hope and to tie into KFC’s new healthier image… Colonel Sandurz could “grill” Princess Vespa much like the “comb the desert” scene. Can you see the giant grill now? The lines on her back? Perhaps a smells/tastes like chicken joke?
  • In the “It’s a Trap” spirit… Long Jon Argbar’s shtick could be to exclaim “It’s a ___!” over & over again, perhaps stopping all the action and looking at the camera after a particularly bad one… and shrugging his shoulders before moving on with it. The blank could be many different things; Tap (in reference to AN-UU’s root beer tap perhaps?), Carp (an aquatic fish reference), frap (Mr. Coffee/Mr. Radar joke), or many, many more things… like Tarp, Part, Wrap, Crap, etc.

New Products & Tie Ins:

  • Yogurt – Perhaps most obviously, yogurt ought to be offered as a dessert item on all “Yum! Brands” restaurants’ menus… perhaps in collectible cups? Everyone’s into this health-food malarkey these days. Perhaps even frozen yogurt, as to not be so disgusting?
  • Toys – Obviously the toys associated with kids meals would be big hits with kids & collectors alike. The toys from all the chains could represent their parodied character and a few of his friends… needing to visit all of the chains to complete your collection… possibly even getting a part of the Spaceballs ship (Mega-Maid) at each chain that are all put together Voltron-style, much like the Transformers reference in the Spaceballs movie?
  • If you guys want to get crazy, we could reach out to Starbucks and infuse them into the Mr. Coffee scene, and replace all references to “spacebucks” as “starbucks”. Perhaps “Yum!” could acquire them before the release of the film?

As you can see, this is a no-brainer, and once you have had the time to review my email, and perhaps forward it to Mel Brooks and/or Brooksfilms Ltd., you will most assuredly be prepared to move along at ludicrous speed. There is no way to not make money with this.  Star Wars fans will rabidly go after anything remotely associated to the movie, and most are geeks who love Mr. Brooks’ style of humor.

If new scenes need to be filmed, I’m sure Rick Moranis, Bill Pullman, George Wyner, Daphne Zungia, and the others would appreciate the work. Perhaps Barf could be wholly replaced by new hot funnyman Zach Galifianakis, as John Candy would be currently unavailable due to his deceased nature. You wouldn’t even need to add much fake fur to the costume. Have you seen the guy?

As far as my involvement, I expect nothing other than to be credited with the inception/inspiration of the project. I would just like to see it happen; perhaps a producer credit? From what I understand, those are mostly meaningless anyway.

I’d like to thank you for your time, and I’m sure you’re as excited about this as I am. These are the droids you’re looking for.

May the Schwartz be with you!
Arik

And, this was the attached photo…

Spaceballs 3D Special Edition Character Designs by Arik Cearbhall

I know, I have mad photo-editing skills.  You don’t have to tell me.

As an afterthought, I felt that all of the other fast food chains out there shouldn’t be denied, so… I re-sent the message with this as a forward:

Hello friends,

I write to you to present an opportunity that may titillate your funny bone.  I have recently written to Mel Brooks, MGM, and your competitor, “Yum! Brands” in the interest of putting together a “Special Edition” version of Spaceballs (perhaps in 3D) featuring new Fast Food related characters.  I have not yet received a reply, but after it was sent, I felt that I had been leaving out many other fine establishments.  Would you have any interest in participating in such a project?  I can certainly come up with new character designs as a parody of your brands.  I consider myself an expert on both Star Wars and fast food.

Please find my entire original message below, and see what you think as it pertains to you!

Hail Skroob!
Arik

Heh. This message actually got me the first few replies…

From a local Chick-fil-A:

from: Chick-fil-A South Hills  <cfasouthhills@gmail.com>
to: Arik Cearbhall <arikcearbhall@gmail.com>
subject: Re: Spaceballs 3D – featuring more Yum! Brands characters?
mailed-by: gmail.com

Hello Arik.  My name is Rebecca Thornsberry and I am the Marketing Director for the Chick-fil-A at South Hills.  Each store is individually owned and operated, so this sounds like something that you would have to get permission from our Corporate Office in Atlanta to do.  If you feel like you’d like to pursue this, you could start with the 1-800-CFA-CORP.  Thanks for offering this to us, but I am sorry that I cannot help you with this.

Thanks,
Rebecca Thornsberry
Marketing Director

Chick-fil-A at South Hills
1620 Washington Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15241
Store- 412-833-1165
Cell- 412-443-5534
http://www.chick-fil-a.com/southhills

From an irritable Quiznos employee:

from: Creative Requests <creativerequests@quiznos.com>
to: Arik Cearbhall <arikcearbhall@gmail.com>
subject: RE: Spaceballs 3D – featuring more Yum! Brands characters?
mailed-by: quiznos.com

I’m only writing you back to say that it is very inappropriate to include all recipients in the “TO” field and not the “BCC”.  Not only is this SPAM mail – unwelcome and unsolicited – it allows anyone on this email to know the emails of all recipients.

Please DO NOT email this address again.

The first reply from anyone actually associated with the project:

from: roger paul <rogerpaulmgmt@aol.com>
to: arikcearbhall@gmail.com
subject: Re: Spaceballs 3D – featuring more Yum! Brands characters?
mailed-by: aol.com

My client Michael Winslow would be up for the challenge

Roger Paul
1650 Broadway
Suite 1105
NY NY 10019
212-262-0008 Phone
212-333-5180 Fax
347-993-0939 Cell

Yeah, that’s actually Michael Winslow‘s management.  He’s “that Police Academy guy” relevant here as the radar operator in Spaceballs.  Dude is awesome.

Then we have…  Silence from everyone else, so far.  I can’t wait to get some more replies.  I just may have to send out some snail mail on this one to the actors & studios.  It is still early, hopefully more responses will pour in!

Taco Bell has purchased my gratitude!


I got a letter in the mail today from Taco Bell.  You may be familiar with my emails to them concerning the death-filled tacos that they were recently peddling.  This is perhaps the best reply I’ve ever received to any of my either serious or goofy letters to any company.

I’ll dispense with the usual long-winded introduction and get right to it…

Letter form Taco Bell about Shrimp Tacos and Taco Bell Bucks!

You can see that along with the letter, I received five $5 Taco Bell Bucks certificates. That’s $25 in death-free Taco Bell food. That’s got to be the coolest thing I’ve ever received besides my T-shirt from Turner’s.  I’m not sure if they’re buying me off, rewarding me, if they make so much profit per item that it really doesn’t matter if they give this much away for free, or what.  This almost makes me want to write back to Pillsbury/Totino’s and make them feel ashamed for sending me three 35¢ coupons.  In fact, I may add that to the list.

The best, and I mean absolute best thing about this letter is that they’re forwarding my request to Pizza Hut.  Wow.  I trust you’ve seen my unanswered letters?  I can’t even express how hilarious and ridiculous and absolutely gratifying that is.


Death Taco


Death Taco. No, that’s not the coolest new metal or grindcore band, although maybe it should be.  It’s what I’m (of course) calling the newest Taco Bell menu item.  I have had some inquires as to why I hadn’t mentioned it yet.

Well, I did make a faint mention via Facebook or Twitter a while ago, but had declined to rant here as I’ve been relentlessly trying to contact Taco Bell.  You know how successful webforms are, so of course I got no answer from that, then I fished around for email addresses to send a full email, bugged them via Twitter for an address, and even posted an Ask Yahoo! question.  Out of nowhere, I finally received a reply, and I have no idea if it was in reply to the webform, my emails to random Yum! Brands and Taco Bell email addresses, or some other forum.

I’d like to share my original messages with you.  First the one via webform:

Hola, mis amigos de Titan Taco! Firstly, this isn’t about an incident at a specific Taco Bell, but the form didn’t allow room for general inquiries. I’d like to express my disappointment with a commercial that I saw advertising new shrimp tacos. Well, I guess my disappointment is not with the commercial, but with the product… and the main ingredient.  I don’t think I can express my thoughts in a box with a mere 500-character limit. Do you have an actual email address where I can contact someone?

…And this was to some email addresses that I found after some Googling.

From: ERiC AiXeLsyD <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Mar 8, 2010 at 4:11 PM
Subject: Taco Fail
To: webmaster@tacobell.com (and a bunch of other addresses)

Hola, mis amigos de Titan Taco!

I’d like to express my disappointment with a commercial that I saw advertising new shrimp tacos. Well, I guess my disappointment is not with the commercial, but with the product… and the main ingredient.

I have a severe shellfish allergy, and Taco Bell has been a shellfish-free dining safe haven for me for years.  It’s one of the few places where I never had to worry about shrimp, crab, lobster, oysters, etc. ending up in my food, or worse yet… crossing paths in the kitchen somewhere.

I will sadly have to cross Taco Bell off of my list of places to dine… but I’d like you to know that there are many of us out here with severe shellfish allergies who have an increasingly difficult time finding safe places to dine out.  Fast food joints have long been a safe-haven for those of us with a shellfish allergy… as most fine dining and now even chain family style restaurants have several shellfish dishes prepared on multiple kitchen surfaces.  Formerly, as long as I stayed away from Long John Silver’s, I was OK.  Taco Bell, KFC, McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Chick-fil-A, …were all safe places.

I guess I’ll now have to get my quick Mexican fix at Qdoba or Chipotle.

If you’d like to know what it’s like to dine out with a shellfish allergy, please read this blog post.

Here’s an excerpt…

If you know me in person, have dined out with me, or have ready any of my lunacy online… you most likely know what I have a severe shellfish allergy.  What does that mean exactly?  Well, it means that I can’t eat any shellfish, or I go into anaphylactic shock.  Not only can I not eat the shellfish (that’s crustaceans & molluscs including but not limited to ,shrimp, prawns, lobster, crab, crayfish, oysters, mussels, clams, scallops, octopi, squid, snails, and probably even scorpions and pill bugs), but I can’t eat any food that comes into contact with it.  That means, if you cook shrimp on the grill, take it off, and put my steak on  without washing the surface, it’s the same as me eating the shrimp.

I certainly can’t expect the restaurant to clean the grill in between every meal, as that’s certainly not productive on their end… I just usually try to see where the shellfish is prepared, and eat from another cooking surface.  That seems easy enough, right?

I get that it’s my responsibility.  Yes, I’ve had an epi pen.  But I’d really love to not ever have the need to use one.  I’ve even considered getting Allergy Cards, but they seem a little pretentious or something… like my verbal reminder isn’t enough.

Well, getting me in to a place with shellfish is an issue in itself.  Why?  Well in with the aforementioned cooking surface issue…

I hope that this helps explain what people like me go through, and I hope that you re-consider selling death-filled tacos!

Running from the border,

-Eric

And, this is the reply, although I’m not sure if it’s the reply to one of the above messages, or in poking around on Twitter:

From: Poetsch, Rob (Public Relations) <Rob.Poetsch@yum.com>
Date: Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 7:30 PM
Subject: Pacific Shrimp Taco Inquiry
To: “world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com” <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Cc: “Hunsaker, Brittany (Contractor)” <Brittany.Hunsaker@yum.com>

Dear Eric,

Thank you for taking the time to contact us about Shellfish allergens concerning our new Pacific Shrimp Tacos.  We want you to know that we take these matters very seriously and that the business of our customers is our top priority.  We value loyal customers such as yourself and would like to take the opportunity to win your business back.

To ,  to our customers who might have Shellfish allergens, we have displayed information at multiple locations in our fish.  These include Shrimp allergen signs that are placed on our window and door clings as well as in our ads where orders are taken.  While the Pacific Shrimp Tacos are offered for a limited time only, all Taco Bell employees have been trained and certified to not have any food products come in contact with Fish and Shellfish during cooking and/or serving.

We would like to send you some Taco Bell Bucks as a token of our thanks, so please email me back with your mailing address.  We hope you will continue to “Think Outside the Bun” at Taco Bell, and appreciate you taking the time to write to us.

Sincerely,
Rob Poetsch
Taco Bell Public Relations

Rob Poetsch
Taco Bell Corp.
One Glen Bell Way
Irvine, CA 92618
O: 949-863-3915
F: 949-863-2252
rob.poetsch@tacobell.com

Of course, I needed to reply:

From: ERiC AiXeLsyD <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Apr 1, 2010 at 5:15 PM
Subject: Re: Pacific Shrimp Taco Inquiry
To: “Poetsch, Rob (Public Relations)” <Rob.Poetsch@yum.com>
Cc: “Hunsaker, Brittany (Contractor)” <Brittany.Hunsaker@yum.com>

Hello Rob,

Thank you for the reply!  I was beginning to wonder if Taco Bell has a stand on the issue.  While I am pleased to hear about the allergen warning signs along with the employee training and certification, I must say that I still have some reservations about safety.  I am relieved to hear that the shrimp tacos are available for a limited time only.

It is great that you take responsibility in posting signs about allergy warnings.  Your fellow Yum! Brands organization, Pizza Hut, ought to take note.  They display allergen information on their website, noting that the pizza sauce may come into contact with shellfish… but there’s no shellfish on the menu.  When I asked where the contamination may occur (e.g. in the processing/canning facility?) they were unable (or I sadly suspect unwilling) to provide a detailed response.

Back to the subject of Taco Bell… the giant window-clings showing what I’m sure to many is a succulent appetizing piece of shrimp spilling out of a lovely soft taco shell looks to me like a giant Mr. Yuck sticker or the old-time skull & cross-bones “poison” logo that you’d see in cartoons.  They serve as an effective if not spine-chilling reminder as to the presence of shellfish allergens on the premises.  They would also kick my survival instincts into gear, not even letting me enter the presence.  Seriously.  I would wager that right now, it would be pretty difficult to physically get me into a Taco Bell restaurant. My Eustachian tubes are starting to itch just thinking about it.  I realize that this is also a highly personal mental health issue, but one that ought not be taken lightly, as it’s grounded in a very real fear.

Recently I read the blog of a man who almost died when he ordered a vegetarian Indian potato curry dish that he was assured was safe.  Apparently the dish was flavored with a shrimp brine… which ought to be disturbing to vegetarians, vegans, kosher folks, and people with shellfish allergies.  This is alarming to say the least.  I realize that simple cross-contamination may not seem as serious as flavoring an entire dish with shrimp-juice, but I can assure you that it is indeed just as deadly.  Our friends with wheat/gluten and peanut allergies seem to get a lot of attention lately, hopefully it will spill over to the rest of us with the “big 8” and those who aren’t even covered by that umbrella.

Have you taken the allergen training, or do you know what’s involved?  I am finding it hard to tactfully express my concerns about the way that the message was conveyed to Taco Bell employees and the actual willingness of the employees to understand and comply.  We’ve all watched training videos on various subjects and rolled our eyes, promptly taken pamphlets and placed them in the trash, or been angered when someone who doesn’t do our job gives us a new or added process that we must adhere to when we’re sure that the person suggesting the changes has never been in our shoes.

While I mean no disrespect to Taco Bell or any fast food restaurant, have you been to a Taco Bell lately?  Sometimes I am concerned about the personal hygiene and motivation of the employees let alone the cleanliness and efficiency of the kitchen.  Sadly, the low quality and poor service of fast food establishments has become a passively accepted facet of 21st Century life in the United States.  For evidence, I give you the term “McJob“.

I have a theory that for so long now, it has been expressed to kids everywhere to get higher education so you don’t end up as a laborer, janitor, or fast food employee… that fast food jobs have garnered such a negative connotation, the only people left willing to take the jobs are the highly unmotivated individuals, people with no other options, or people using the part time jobs for extra cash with no real pride in their work since there’s no real fear of losing the job or striving to move up the chain of command.

I would invite you to imagine that in the Taco Bell kitchen where you are about to dine there are the standard (and innovative!) sour cream and cheese caulking-gun looking dispensers all loaded on the food preparation area… along side a caulking-gun-looking dispenser filled with a highly toxic pest-control chemical that looks interestingly enough like cheese or sour cream.  Would you still feel safe in eating there?  Sure.  The employees can read.  Sure, they know the difference.  Are they ever rushed in a fast food kitchen?  Do mistakes ever happen?  Of course.  I’m guessing you would at least think twice or watch closely before you dine.

I understand that this scenario is preposterous because I would hope that some sort of federal regulations would forbid any toxic chemicals from being stored in a food preparation area.  No such federal regulations exist for people like me, although Massachusetts is moving forward with this type of thing.

While I trust that your training an certification was put forth with the best of intentions, you must understand that I question its implementation, practicality, and how it’s received and practiced by what amounts to be the first line of contact with your customers… the Taco Bell team member.  What exactly does the certification say?  Does each employee have it, or does a certification apply to an entire restaurant or shift?

I challenge you to quiz the workers at Taco Bells in various locations… inner city, suburbs, malls, and the combo units, and see how much the workers really know about cross-contamination and allergy issues and how they’re observed in a Taco Bell kitchen.  (Hopefully, they fare better than Subway employees.)

All that said, I appreciate and applaud the considerable thought and effort that has already gone into allergen awareness.  Spreading knowledge is the first step.  Did you know that May 9th-15th 2002 is the thirteenth annual Food Allergy Awareness Week?  Now is the time to act and inform, my friend!

I would certainly appreciate some Taco Bell Bucks, if you’ll understand that I may hold on to them until well after the current Pacific Shrimp Taco promotion is over. (Pending reviews, it may not last all that long, eh?) Taco Bell had previously been a shellfish-free Mexican-ish fast food haven for me for many many years.  I can’t tell you how many tacos I ate at the mall nearby to where I grew up when I was a teenager.  A dollar went much further at Taco Bell than it did at McDonald’s, Burger King or anywhere else in the food court.

My address is…

Eric Aixelsyd
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Pittsburgh, PA  XXXXX-XXXX

I would like to thank you once again for your time and the thoughtful informative reply.  I look forward to perhaps what may be a continued dialog about allergy awareness issues in the fast food industry, and more specifically relating to Taco Bell and other Yum! Brands.

-Eric

Wow, do I hope they write back.

Don’t ever eat anything anywhere anytime.


So, I admittedly went mental with my last blog post, and it ended up being more of it’s own entity than a tangent or aside… but I think it may give you a little background of what’s going through my head in addition to the regular shock & horror that’s surely intended by the writers/submitters/vloggers of the matters that I’d like to discuss here.  Maybe it’s a part in a series.  I never know exactly where this will go.  Now that you know about my allergy and how it affects me mentally, we can get on with the rest of the issues at hand.

I have had several discussions with friends who have worked in the food industry (as I have not) about kitchen cleanliness issues, server attitudes, and just service in general.  I have a site 90% or so ready to go called Fast Food Fail that I eventually hope to get up n’ running… to point out service issues that I seem to think should not be accepted.  I have been told it’s ridiculous because it’s “only fast food” and that “people working there don’t care” or “don’t make enough money to care.”  Fair enough.  But, I feel this is laziness.  It’s laziness on the part of the food preparer & servers, and laziness on the part of the consumer that just sits back & takes it.  I wanted to focus on fast food because it fits my price range, schedule, and it’s easy to avoid shellfish there… but these articles seem to go from fast food to diners to sit down chains all the way up to the high end places.

Before I go on, a bit of a disclaimer:  It’s been pointed out to me by a few that some of the statements I’m about to quote may be exaggerated for comedic effect shock  value, and what-not…. and that this “doesn’t really happen” anywhere.  Okay.  Opinions noted.  I’m sure my opinions will swing just as far the other way.  A few of my dining pet peeves may even jump out here.

Okay… as I was saying… Sunday night, I sit down to check my email and I get a link to a Yahoo!  news article from their home page that makes me wretch in disgust.  It’s called  20 Secrets Your Waiter Will Never Tell You.  After reading, and clicking through several links around the various sites (you know how it goes), I found 30 Secrets Your Waiter Will Never Tell You — Which seems to be an earlier longer version of the same article by Michelle Crouch.  I’m just going to quote then rant.

Here, from a group that clears a median $8.01 an hour in wages and tips, a few revelations that aren’t on any menu.

Am I to feel sorry because these people make $8.01 per hour?  I have always done the job I was hired to do to the best of my ability no matter what the pay.  It’s the set rate accepted by you the minute you took the job for the services rendered.  If you feel that your time and effort deserve more compensation, then move on.  Don’t give me the “it’s the only job I ca get” crap either… because i it is, then suck it up, and do it to the best of your ability so you’ll be in that mode when something more worth of you comes along.  And, I haven’t worked food service… but I have done construction demolition & labor, cleaned offices for extra cash, and worked on an assembly line… all “menial” and labor-intensive tasks.

2. On Christmas Day, when people ask why I’m there, I might say, “My sister’s been in the hospital,” or, “My brother’s off to war, so we’re celebrating when he gets back.” Then I rake in the tips.
—Chris, a New York City waiter and the founder of bitterwaitress.com

Thanks, you just made me less inclined to believe any back story of any servery anywhere.  I’m sure they’ll all thank you for that.  (Just like the geniuses that say they have a food allergy when they really don’t… but I might get to those people later.)

4. If someone orders a frozen drink that’s annoying to make, I’ll say, “Oh, we’re out. Sorry!” when really I just don’t want to make it. But if you order water instead of another drink, suddenly we do have what you originally wanted because I don’t want to lose your drink on the bill.
—Waitress at a casual Mexican restaurant in Manhattan

Annoying to make? How about you DO YOUR JOB?  I don’t go to work and lie to customers because they’re annoying or it’s annoying to do what they’re calling to ask me to do…  I DO IT, because it’s why I’m there.  You should pick up this attitude too.  If I’m at a restaurant, and it’s on the menu, I damn well better be able to order it.  (This is the standard with Milkshakes at McDonald’s I think.  I can’t remember the last time I had one.  The McDonald’s shake machine repair man must be more elusive than bigfoot riding a unicorn.)  If you’re out or it.s broken or something, there better be a preemptive note in the menu or a verbal notice when I sit down.

5. When I was at one bakery restaurant, they used to make this really yummy peach cobbler in a big tray. A lot of times, servers don’t have time to eat. So we all kept a fork in our aprons, and as we cruised through the kitchen, we’d stick our fork in the cobbler and take a bite. We’d use the same fork each time.
—Kathy Kniss

7. I’ve seen some horrible things done to people’s food: steaks dropped on the floor, butter dipped in the dishwater.
—Waiter at a casual restaurant in the Chicago area

I hope this is the shock value/comedic effect stuff that people are telling me is entirely fictional.  Where would this be acceptable?  Now, you see why I worry about cross contamination so much.

6. If you make a big fuss about sending your soup back because it’s not hot enough, we like to take your spoon and run it under really hot water, so when you put the hot spoon in your mouth, you’re going to get the impression—often the very painful impression—that your soup is indeed hot.
—Chris

Thanks for giving the idea to like minded individuals out there, Chris.  I’ll remember to hold on to my spoon if I ever have the need to send soup back.  I’m generally afraid to ever send anythign back… urban legends like this, and the movies Waiting… and Road Trip “French Toast” scene are why.

10. Oh, you needed more water so badly, you had to snap or tap or whistle? I’ll be right back … in ten minutes.
—Charity Ohlund

Good point, that’s just stupid behavior.  I have no idea why anyone anywhere would find this to be acceptable.

13. Sometimes, if you’ve been especially nice to me, I’ll tell the bartender, “Give me a frozen margarita, and don’t put it in.” That totally gyps the company, but it helps me because you’ll give it back to me in tips, and the management won’t know the difference.
—Waitress at a casual Mexican restaurant in Manhattan

Used to get free soup at Eat ‘n Park this way when I worked night shift nearby.  I always tipped the value of the soup plus some.

19. Trust your waitress. Say something like “Hey, it’s our first time in. We want you to create an experience for us. Here’s our budget.” Your server will go crazy for you.
— Charity Ohlund

After reading all the rest of this stuff, I’m supposed to trust the waitress?

22. When you say, “I’ll have the pasta Alfredo,” it tells me two things: You aren’t interested in trying new things, and you don’t eat out much. Restaurants put this dish on their menus because it’s “safe,” it sells, and it’s cheap to make.
—JR

Or you’re me at an Olive Garden where the Pasta Alfredo is the only thing besides the salad, breadsticks, and pizza that isn’t a possible cross-contamination induced death by anaphylaxis.

28. If you’re worried about cleanliness, check out the bathroom. If the bathroom is gross, you can be sure the kitchen is much worse.
—Waitress at a well-known pizza chain

So, don’t eat at this McDonald’s?  I’ll have to make an exception for Gooski’s with this rule.  Some things, I just don’t need to know.

In a weekly blog called “In the Weeds” for frothygirlz.com, Kansas City waitress Charity Ohlund describes her favorite customer stereotypes:

6. If you have a food allergy, you will talk about it in great detail and then each time I set a new plate in front of you, you will ask me if I remembered your food allergy.

Offense taken.  I get, this list was to be cute & funny… but I make the waitress aware of my allergy once, or sometimes my wife even does it because she knows I’m already on edge, and we never feel the need to mention it a second time.  Sometimes the manager comes out, sometimes the waitress is very understanding and reassuring.  I hope they’re not pulling the wool over my eyes just to get a bigger tip.  And, if it could kill you, you might be a little on edge about it too!  And… even if you have an epi pen… it’s not a life saver, its’s a time buyer… it gives you a good 20 maybe 30 minutes for the EMT’s to arrive & give you another dose until they can get you to the hospital.

That aside, poking around that site more & more, it is entertaining and well written… and I don’t get a malicious feel behind any of the posts.  I guess everyone needs to vent, but in that spirit, I feel free to vent back.

Wow all that in response to just the one article.  I think this just because a series… because I have other pet peeves involved with dining out including tips and closing times… and I came accross many more disturbing revelations in some of the articles/links.  Maybe I’ll pop them all into the next one.