The other day I had to finally drag my poor Little Princess to the doctor’s office – she, like me, had been suffering with a bad cold for almost a month. The ‘rule of thumb’ is that if a cold lasts longer than 10 days, it generally needs to be ‘dealt with’ by antibiotics. Of course she did not want to go, kept insisting the night before that she was going to hang onto the refrigerator door really tight so she wouldn’t be able to be budged…I kept reminding her that it wasn’t going to be a big deal, that her doctor was just going to take a look at her and check her vitals and recommend how we get rid of the yucks. I was able to distract her by suggesting she ask her doctor if she could have a couple of the tongue depressors for a craft project, you know, because we needed Popsicle sticks for the project and we didn’t happen to have any on hand – but the doctor ones are really big, so they’d be great for the project…she finally acquiesced and agreed to go – though she still fretted and continuously reminded me how she was not looking forward to it and did not want to go.

I finally pulled out the big guns, though, and offered up a trip to McDonald’s as long as she didn’t make trouble getting out of the house, and was a good girl throughout the dreaded doctor’s appointment. Between the idea of getting giant Popsicle sticks for her project and Apple Dippers and a Madagascar toy from McDonald’s, she was very cooperative – mostly. She did great during her appointment (even though the expression and looks she kept throwing at me belied her true feelings), the doctor confirmed she needed antibiotics, and as soon as we got back in our vehicle, she excitedly announced “Next stop, McDonald’s!” It was just after 10:00 a.m., so I reminded her that they might not be serving lunch when we get there, and suggested we go burn some time at a store nearby before heading over. We picked out a few fun Christmas items killing time, and then headed over to McD’s at about 10:25. Keep in mind that McDonald’s has now changed their lunch service to start at 10:30 – though an odd time for ‘lunch’, at least it worked well with my Little Princess’s schedule, since she doesn’t get lunch with her 1/2 day of Kindergarten that means she usually has to wait to have an actual lunch until between 3:30 and 4:00 in the afternoon – which really messes up with her dinnertime imbibe-ment!

At any rate, we pulled up to the speaker box to place our order…the usual pre-taped message made their usual gimmick announcement, then a ‘human’ voice crackled over the speaker asking us to pull up to the window to place our order. I was intrigued, as it had been a long time since we had the ‘face-to-face’ McDonald’s in our area. When we pulled up to the window, it was exactly 10:28 a.m. I was confident that we would be able to place a lunch order, thereby giving the Little Princess her desire to have some chicken McNuggets and Apple Dippers. But when I asked if they were serving lunch yet, the girl looked at me like I was crazy and said “Well, um, not yet, they don’t have the lunch stuff set up yet.” My response was “What?! You mean they’re not set up to start serving lunch in 2 minutes?!” She said “No, sorry…” so I decided in order to give my daughter her special request I would just drive around the parking lot for 2 minutes until they were willing to take a lunch order. I had to wait for the person in front of me to receive their order at the next window, so by the time I drove back around the building to the speaker boxes, it was now 10:30 a.m. Perfect!

This time the squawk box actually asked me if they could take my order…my thought process was they must have had an issue with the microphone or something 2 minutes ago which would have made them have the need for me to place my order at the window. I asked the squawk box if they were serving lunch, and smiled back at my daughter when the response was “Yes, we are.” Cool! They must have really needed that whole 2 minutes to get the lunch stuff ‘set up’, since the girl at the window was informing me that they weren’t ready to serve lunch a whole 2 minutes ago. I placed the order for a Chicken Nugget Happy Meal with Apple Dippers, and when the squawk box asked if I would like 2 apple pies for a dollar, my Little Princess piped up “Oh yes, I love apple pies!” so I said “Sure, why not?” to which the squawk box replied “Oh, I’m sorry, we only have Pumpkin left…” Excuse me? They just offered apple – but only have pumpkin? No thanks…warm pumpkin pie is not my favorite thing – besides, I’ve had their pumpkin pies before and they really aren’t all that great…I much prefer homemade pumpkin pie, love it cold and with Cool Whip on top! 😉 So with just the Happy Meal order placed, I drove to the first window to pay. Same girl as before, so I asked her – “So, they were able to set up for lunch in the last 2 minutes, huh?” She shrugged her shoulders and said “I’m sorry, the people who take the orders are not actually here – they’re in South Dakota.” Whaaaa?! Seriously?

I shook my head and paid for the Happy Meal, then pulled up and waited for the order. Then it struck me – if the order takers are in South Dakota and not here, how do they know there are not any apple pies at this particular location? So when the girl handed the Happy Meal to me, I decided to ask “I have a question – the order takers in the box in South Dakota told me you guys don’t have any apple pies only pumpkin – do you actually have apple pies?” She grinned sheepishly and said “Yes, we do have apple pies – would you like two for a dollar?”

Since when has McDonald’s gotten away from the ‘on-site’ system? Placing your order through the speaker box you used to speak to the person who’s taking your money, or someone right there that makes sure your order is correct. That explains all the times in the past with this new McDonald’s that my order has been messed up…I’ve paid for things that weren’t in the bag, asked for things I didn’t get (like ordering Apple Dippers and getting fries instead – which I’d rather my daughter not get hooked on at this early stage). McDonald’s seems to have become so commercialized – like so many other nostalgic companies and places. Has McDonald’s lost touch and gone the way so many companies have gone to save a buck? Like customer service calls going to some non English speaking person in another country…placing your McDonald’s order through the magical box where someone is 1500 miles away and doesn’t have ‘real time’ information? Today South Dakota…tomorrow Timbuktu…next week – China, perhaps?