Fast Food Limbo: stupid queue systems

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This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 22nd november 2011.

Ladies and gentlemen, for your enjoyment this Tuesday, I’d like to have a rant.

I accidentally wandered into a popular fast food joint the other day to find that the traditional queuing system had been replaced by…I have no idea. I lined up in front of a register, as I have done since I was little and the food, for lack of a better word, came in foam boxes. Once my order was taken, I remained in my place, only to be asked to step aside for the person behind me.

Fair enough, but where was I supposed to go? If I move to the right, I’m in front of the next register. Same deal if I go to the left. I can’t go backwards either. There are people lined up behind me there. If I go forwards, I’ll need to put on an ill fitting uniform and work for minimum wage.

With no obvious place to go and no instructions forthcoming, I took a half step to the side and waited for…I have no idea. I didn’t have a number, RTA style, to play the “renew your driver’s licence bingo game”. I wasn’t even given one of those red flashing square things. And why exactly do they only flash red? Are there no other colours available?

They didn’t take my name either, like those expensive juice places. Buying a “tropical heavenly bliss” with extra wheatgrass is my only opportunity to use my real name, Shakespeare. And what’s with the crazy product names anyway? I’m buying a smoothie, not a state of consciousness.

I guessed that they would call out my order. The problem was, there are quite a few common combinations on the menu. Who ordered the unhappy meal? Ah, everyone?

Before I knew it, other hungry folk were lining up behind me to place their orders. I sheepishly explained that I wasn’t actually in a queue. I was in a kind of burger limbo.

When did the system change and exactly what are the new rules? I know from the TV ads that I inexplicably need to peel the sticker from the top right hand corner, but I don’t have a clue about how to get to my lunch.

Culturally, we’re taught from a very early age to queue up for things. From lining up at the school canteen for a sausage roll, space food stick and a packet of Burger Rings to passport control at the airport to waiting 2 hours to ride the Pepsi Max Big One roller coaster at Blackpool, the rules are the same.

When someone deviates from the traditional queuing system that is burnt into our brains, like the thankfully abandoned Orange Post Office alternating double queue system, people get confused.

I hate lining up for stuff as much as the next person, but at least I know where I stand, both literally and figuratively. Next time I feel the urge for junk food, I’ll take the drive through. At least I know how that works. Line up in the car, order and pay at the first window, pick up your order at the second window, and then drive home to find out that they forgot your fries. Simple.

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hello I hope its the same Peter Young from McDonalds Resaurants many years ago in Melbourne. Reply please.

    • So sorry to disappoint but it isn’t. There are a lot of my namesakes around.


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