Friday, February 20, 2004

Who thinks this stuff up?

I had an over-the-lunch-hour appointment today and was late getting something to eat. I swung into Sonic, a regional drive-in restaurant that actually started right here in Stillwater, OK, for a nosh.

Sonic runs monthly specials. Each month, an item off their menu is offered at a special price. Sometimes it's just their extra-large drink, the Route 44, sometimes it's the Brown Bag Special (2 burgers, 2 fries, 2 drinks), and sometimes it's one of their Toaster sandwiches (burgers and other sandwiches on Texas Toast). This month, the special happens to be the Chicken Strip Dinner and a drink for $4.49. The normal price for the Chicken Strip Dinner alone is $4.99.

This is exceptionally fortuitous since what I want is a Chicken Strip Dinner.

I have started drinking a lot of water. I do this because water is a better drink for you than anything else you can drink and being hydrated helps several different systems in your body function properly. For additional health reasons that have arisen over the past couple of days, I have decided to avoid carbonated beverages altogether for a brief period. I think I'm pretty much going to stick to water and milk.

With this in mind, I pull up and push the red button. After a minute or so, a voice comes over the speaker...

Welcome to sonic may I take your order?
Yes, I'd like a Chicken Strip Dinner with water, please.
Chicken strip dinner and a water. Will there be anything else?
No, thank you.
Okay. Your total is $5.41. We'll have that right out.

Now, somewhere back in 1995 the mathematical circuits of my brain shut down from lack of use. Even in my debilitated state something didn't seem right here. I know our tax rate is less than 10%. Even at 10%, the tax on $4.49 is only 45 cents.

... Let's see ... $4.49 plus $0.45... add the five, carry the 3, stand on your left foot while the moon is full... that comes out to... let's see... ummm... carry the five, add the sum of the square root of the hypotenuse of an isocelese triangle... ummm... not $5.41.

I push the red button again. After about 30 seconds, the voice comes back...

Is there something else I can get you?
Well, I was just wondering, if the Chicken Strip Dinner is on special for $4.49, how does that come out to $5.41?
[with a bit of attitude this time] You ordered water the special comes with a drink.
Would you like a drink?
[With my own attitude, trying to convey how absurd this all is] Well yeah! Especially if it's going to save me 50 cents.
What would you like to drink?

At this point, I'm thinking to myself, "WHO CARES??!! I'm not going to drink it anyway!"

A Sprite, I guess... [thinking quickly that they may substitute for the water I really want]... and a water.
Your total is $4.86
Thank you.

I wait the predetermined amount of time for which is necessary to prepare, box up, and deliver four chicken strips, a side of french fries, a piece of texas toast, a miniturized styrofoam vat of white-cream grave, a solitary onion ring, a medium sprite and a medium water. Sure enough, right on time, along comes a carhop.

She hands me the first cup. Here's your Sprite
This one is the Sprite?

I keep my hand on it as she calls off and hands me the other cup and a paper bag containing my boxed meal. She repeats my total and I hand her a five-dollar bill. As soon as she hands me my change, I hand he back the Sprite explaining that I don't want it and she can do whatever she wants to with it. Her confused look confirms that she is not, in fact, the same one who took my order.

As she returns with the aforementioned soda, I silently hope it pisses off order-taking-girl for causing me an inconvenience and as punishment for not thinking about customer service.

I smile and drive away.

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