Friday, February 22, 2013

Denial at Burger King

Last night, Adam, Julia, and I went to eat dinner at a local fast food place.
And that's very unusual. We don't do fast food. We don't particularly like the fare, and I don't like the prices. But we had three coupons, thanks to those naughty receipts from Dollar General. "$2.00 -- Get a Whopper Jr. and a Value Fries." So we went out in the cold to Burger King.

A sign in the window told me that a Whopper Jr.'s normal price was only $1.29, so I realized we weren't getting much of a deal. I wanted to add a milk shake to my dinner, as did Julia. We had to order and pay separately, to use the coupons. Adam took one look  at the situation and opted instead for a Whopper Combo Meal. Smart man.

The milk shake prices on their lit sign above the counter showed this: Small: $1.99, Medium: $2.49, Large: $2.99. I chose a medium and similarly instructed Julia. I chose strawberry; she opted for chocolate.

It was tiresome, but the cashier had to ring up my coupon meal separately from my shake. Sigh. I paid the $2.00+tax for the burger/fries. And then I paid $3.19 for the shake. I was flustered with all the cash and coupons flying about. Julia ordered the same, and she paid. 

And we waited. Thus, I had time to think of what I'd just paid. A shake that costs $2.49, ends up being $3.19 with tax?

So I asked the flurried, sweaty manager about the prices of her shakes. At first she looked at me as if I were just another stupid customer, taking up her time. But then she examined her cash register with its impenetrable computer software, and the lighted sign over her head. She swiveled back and forth. She furrowed her brow. I kept asking her, in a calm voice, about those prices, and why I'd just paid an extra dollar for my milkshakes. She wouldn't reply. She was stuck: she could not intervene with her cash register; it was smarter than she was. I mean that in a good way. The days are gone when a manager can simply take a dollar out of a register and hand it to you because he owes it to you. The machine is in charge.

I asked her, "What is the cost of a medium milkshake?" "$2.99" she replied, because her register had instructed her to.  "But the sign says $2.49," I added. "The sign is wrong," she said. "But the sign is what you're showing to the customers.

And then, she produced her solution. She reached up somehow, and turned that sign off. Yes, one-fourth of the Burger King price sign in Grantsboro, NC is black and vacant, so that customers will not know what they're paying for milkshakes.

What kind of solution is that? Which one is really correct? Why, the sign, of course. The register's prices were coded incorrectly. Some computer whiz is needed to fix that. But until then, everyone will be over-charged 50¢ for milkshakes. 

And she can pretend all is well, simply by turning off the sign. 

There's probably a sermon illustration, a political analogy, and an economic lesson, all rolled up in there somewhere. I sat, ate my indifferent dinner, and went home. What use is there in arguing with a woman who sees the world in such blind ways?

Next time, when there is a next time, we'll eat down the road at Hardees.


  1. wow, just wow. You are invited to my house, and we will fix you some kale (today's post).

  2. I'd rather make milkshakes at home! At least you know the price and the taste (to me) is always better!

    How frustrating.

  3. People aren't taught how to think and when forced to, they fall to pieces and make stupid decisions. Of course, that's a good thing for the government; the drones are better able to be controlled when they can't think for themselves.


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