I love breakfast. I love socially unacceptable food replacement products that, so I’m told, will ban me to hell simply for thinking about eating them. If there was a law against sin eating, I would be a food criminal. Much like sex addiction – a made for television Tiger Woods show – food-like stuff can be addictive. About once a week I go to ®MacDonald’s and get a couple of ®Egg Mcmuffins, coffee and juice for my wife and me.
At the local Mickey Dee’s, at 6:00 in the morning there are no kids working anywhere in the store, none that I can see. I’m sure all the kids are getting ready for school, doing chores or helping old ladies across the street. There is no way they could still be in bed as late as 6:00 AM. Most of the adults working there are older women, in fact they are sweet old ladies who always greet me with a smile and call me honey. I just love that.
At 6:00 AM I’m not fit to be seen in public so I always use the drive-up window(s) to get the stuff that resembles food.
I have no doubt the ®MacDonald’s Corporation has studied this, paid consultants, marketing SEO experts (I never knew there were so many experts until I started using Twitter) designers, writers and lawyers (remember the hot coffee burn incident). I can see massive expert brainstorming about the best way to move customers through the assembly line to get the faux-food and quickly be on their way. What the experts didn’t count on was the sweet old ladies. It goes like this.
Drive up to the first station to place an order. The menu is a an 8 foot square lighted wall with every possible part of its surface used for items of the faux-food stuff. You have about 10 seconds to make a choice, else elicit the wrath from those in the line of cars behind you. Hint – It pays to go there during the day and take a picture of this big board, study it at home and make a choice ahead of time.
A voice that sounds like a radio from 1939, broken up, lots of noise, distant and hollow comes out of the machine next to the car window. Hint, roll the window down – you won’t believe the difference it makes understanding the voice.
“Would …you, bzzzz, like to try bzzzz combo?”
“No thank you. I’ll have two wonderwhatitis meals and two large coffees, one juice.”
“That’s a large bzzzzz and two orange bzzzz?”
“No, I want…”
“OK, please pull around.”
Under my breath, “Shit.”
Next window, the sweet little old lady says,
“That will be $35.42.”
“What, how – for two wonderwhats and coffee?”
“Oh, I thought you wanted six everythingwehave meals with juice. Ya gotta speak up honey.”
I can’t bring my self to tell this sweet old lady to get a better hearing aid or ditch the talking 1939 radio machine. We negotiate, I get my sandwichelike things and drinks for $5.95. Now comes the hard part, the dreaded pick-up window.
I pull as close as possible so this next sweet lady can hear me. I’ve been through this so many times I’m sure she knows me. Yet she repeats the same mistakes, although always with a smile and so damned motherly. She slides open the window.
“Honey, did you want two egg-like muffin sandwiches?”
“I ordered the whole meal.”
“I know”, she says, ever smiling at me like I’m such a dufus and mother must make me understand. “Did you want two sandwich-like things with sausage-like stuff on them?”
“No. I don’t want sausage, God no. I want the stuff that looks like Canadian bacon.”
“I know that honey. Did you want two sandwiches?”
“OK. I want two sandwich-like things and two potato-like things.”
Still smiling she says, “Hold on.” She goes back to the stainless-steel-with-dirty-floor-kitchen place where she can talk to someone, unlike me, with common sense. From far back in the store she looks toward me and mouths that she has it now. In mere seconds she hands the bag, three drinks, coffee creamer, stirs, straws, napkins to me.
“Umm, I’ll need a bag and a carrier for that”
We work this out, I have it all in the car now.
“You have a wonderful day honey. Come back and see us.”
“Thank you. Have a great day yourself.”
I love this. They all make mistakes, can’t hear well, can’t see well and always screw up my order. But they always smile, make it right, call me honey and wish me a good day. I especially like the honey part. It personalizes the experience so well. I leave smiling, with my artery clogging imitation breakfast and coffee. Who cares if mom has a few problems understanding? She is still mom.
Marketing experts. Is there a marketing lesson here somewhere?