Hardy Plumbing
December 14, 2011

Filet Fish And Other Urban Myths

There is a reason why I hate to go to restaurants – it's because it is becoming increasingly more difficult to communicate with the help.

It's not right – too many business owners sabotage their customers and their employees by hiring workers with insufficient language skills.

The absolute worst place to order food is the Kentucky Fried Chicken in Riverhead. I submit to you that it is virtually impossible to place a decent-sized order to go and actually get what you ordered. It happens to me all the time – I get home and the stuff in the bag doesn't even resemble what I ordered. Not even close.

Now some of you may be asking at this point, "Why do you keep going back?" I'm glad you asked.

Because I love Kentucky Fried Chicken, that's why. I think the colonel's secret ingredients must include heroin.

I've tried going inside and watching them pack up my order, but they still find ways to screw it up. The other day I asked for, among other things, a large mashed potatoes with the gravy in a separate container. But when I checked, there it was -- the gravy in with the potatoes.

"Excuse me," I said extra nicely. "I asked for the gravy in a separate container. I don't want it on the mashed potatoes."

"Sorry," the surly girl replied. "That's against the law."

I looked at her, flabbergasted. "Against the law?"

"That's right sir, government regulations."

How do you reply to that?

I went back for another try last Saturday, only because Karen wanted a snack. I figured I could get away with going to the drive-thru. I was wrong.

"A small order of hot wings and a small cole slaw," I said when prompted.

There was silence. Then, grumbling. "Er I er . . . umm." I repeated the simple order. Nothing. Seconds passed. "Am I done?" No reply. I said it louder: "Hello! Hello? Am I finished?" Still nothing. Finally I screamed, "Should I proceed to the next freaking window?"

Then a new person, this one a man, answered. This gentleman had the heavy accent of a Pakistani.

"I am so sorry. I will help you!" He said confidently.

"One small order of hot wings and a cole slaw," I said.

He paused, then said loudly and confidently, "One order mashed potatoes!" With that I floored my truck, drove over the divider, wheeled out onto Route 58 and peeled away.

"I'm still hungry," Karen finally said meekly.

Once, out of curiosity, I asked a woman at McDonald's what kind of fish they used in the fish filet sandwich, wondering if it might be codfish.

"It's Filet Fish," she said knowingly. "Just like the sign say."

I tried to explain what "filet" meant, but she would have no part of it.

"It is Filet Fish. McDonald's raises them in their own ocean."

"So I guess Whoppers are grown on Burger King Island?"

She didn't miss a beat. "I don't know, sir. You'll have to go across the street and ask them."

While I'm at it, I want to express my profound hatred for prix fixe and early bird specials. To further examine these bargains, I harken back to the days of the TV show, "Queen For A Day." All three contestants looked like they had been beaten by a big guy with an ugly stick. They had puffed eyes, blotchy skin, tangled hair, and forlorn looks on their faces. Each had a tale of woe more horrible than the next – husband got hit by a trolley, twin daughters fell off the Cyclone at Coney Island, etc. Everyone cried. Then one of the three – based on the applause of the audience as measured by the applause meter, would "win" and become "Queen for a Day." The host, Jack Bailey, would say something like, "I know you lead a wretched life and you are going to die miserable and lonely. That's why we have decided to give you A NEW WASHING MACHINE!" Then the crowd would go crazy.

That's what an early bird/prix fixe three-course dinner is at some restaurants. Let's says it's $29.95. You get a choice of salad or soup, an entrée, and dessert. Here's how they sucker you in. You look at the regular menu, and the salads are around $14, the entrees are all in the $35 range, and the desserts are all 10 bucks. You're tempted to believe it's a tremendous bargain. It's not. Here's the secret: no one pays regular price. The chicken, salmon, meatloaf, etc. on the regular menu are just there for show – no one pays $35 for that stuff. Now look carefully at the prix fixe menu: the steak, shrimp, lobster etc. are gone.

What we get is a plate of mixed greens (previously known as "weeds"), filet de poulet with truffled potatoes and crème fraiche, AKA a piece of dried roast chicken and a potato.

Then your chocolate mousse cake arrives, and it looks suspiciously like Betty Crocker chocolate cake. When the bill comes, you discover the three glasses of wine you needed to get all the dried food down your gullet cost $16 each (and each glass was about 1/3 full). All of a sudden its $128 -- not including the tip.

"Let's go out but not drink any wine," Karen always suggests. I always have the better idea: "Let's drink wine and not go out."

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