Friday, January 25, 2008

What the fil-A?

It was really cold last weekend, so we decided to go to a new Chick-fil-A for lunch so Paolo could wear himself out on the indoor playground. We went right in the middle of the lunch rush, and the grand-opening fever was in full effect. However, since Chick-fil-A staffs their restaurants adequately, there is never a wait: one of the many reasons we eat there despite our aversion to fast food.

Speaking of staff, there were two employees working the dining room, and they were deadly serious about ensuring customer satisfaction. They weren't just table-wiping, napkin-restocking monkeys waiting to be needed. They were more like personal butler monkeys, doing their best to ingratiate themselves with the customers in order to anticipate our desires. "Do you like ketchup on your fries? Well, let me get you some!"

Looking around, I noticed that all the patrons appeared confused by the dining-room monkeys, bordering on weirded out. The male monkey, who looked thirteen, stopped at every table to inquire politely, "May I refresh your beverage?" Seriously. Without fail, every table paused to translate that phrase mentally into what we are used to hearing in an Arkansas fast-food establisment -"Kin ah gitcha another coke?" or "Ya'unt more ta drank?"- before being able to respond.

The female dining-room monkey kept chiding people about standing up. She sent me to my table right after I paid and explained that I was not to get up to fetch anything. Each time she performed some menial task and I thanked her, she looked deeply into my eyes and said, "It is my pleasure to serve you." How freaking strange is that?

I was so rattled by that experience, I left my purse hanging on the back of my chair. Oh, yes I did. And I didn't notice it was gone until Sunday, the only day Chick-fil-A is closed. Not to worry, one of the monkeys recovered it, and a manager happily handed it over to me when I showed up Monday morning. Looking back, I'm surprised I made it to the parking lot without a monkey chasing me down to return it, after slipping a few dollars into my wallet and twisting the Chapstick up a notch for easier application. Actually, I'm surprised someone didn't drive it out to my house, because that's the kind of love Chick-fil-A has for its diners. You and I know that if I had left it behind at any other fast-food restaurant, it would have been McHistory.

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