Column/Living, and eating, in a fast food nation

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 26, 2006

I vividly remember my very first job – it was at Kentucky Fried Chicken and my responsibilities ranged from cook to cashier to bathroom cleaning superintendent.

Although, it was clear to me on my very first day that I was going to have to work hard to find a different career field in life – I quickly learned a respect for people who did make professions out of the fast food business.

There are many people that have, you could say, perfected the art of providing fast food.

Email newsletter signup

Even though, I still love the “homemade” biscuits from KFC, there were some early impressions that stuck from that work that stay with me today.

The intuition that followed from my experience was that food is always better cooked at home and that cleaning up your own mess is much better than someone else’s – specifically bathrooms.

Sadly, I have remained a frequent visitor to fast food restaurants from the likes of KFC to all the other chain restaurants over the course of my life. As a matter of fact, it seems that I spend more money than ever buying value meals and happy meals now that I have kids.

Don’t get me wrong. There are a number of benefits derived from these types of food providers such as serving a need when we are too tired to cook after a hard day’s work and especially when we are in a rush from point A to point B, which nowadays seems like an everyday occurrence.

However, the more I eat fast food, the more concerned I become because of certain things.

For example, I can recall there being a mandate where the cooks in the restaurants were required to wear hair nets and gloves.

I can’t tell you how many times I have been sitting at a drive-thru window and notice bare hands flipping my hamburger onto a bun or mangling my French Fries. I also have noticed the appearance of some of our restaurants are substandard, where it even seemed that the floors hadn’t been swept in days and some that had enough grease on the floor I could imagine the employees sliding across them as if they were ice skating.

There is also a need for better customer service.

Used to, we were told that every order ended with a smile. Now, you are fortunate to receive a smile one out of 10 times while frequenting one of the food chains. Just the other day I visited a fast food restaurant, which I won’t name, where I ordered food for the family and the only item that was correct was the napkins.

You would think the person giving me my order would apologize, but the cashier seemed mad at me for even ordering and more so for attempting to correct the order.

As with any criticism, its important to rationalize that there are many people in the business who strive to do well and do so. But, there is a need to do a better job at many of our fast food restaurants in Selma.

Who knows, if it doesn’t get better then “brown-bagging” lunches may be the new way to go.

Jesse Lindsey is the publisher of The Times-Journal.