Friday, 30 October 2009

Kentucky Freakin' Fried

After a swim, the wee fella is usually starving and I’m usually in full-on lazy, let’s get take-out mode. Not a good combo. On you go, son, I say, have a swim, get some exercise and then we’ll fill your gut full of cheap carbohydrates. I am a bad parent. Nonetheless, I remain undeterred and full of post-swimming sloth.

The problem is that I LOVE KFC. Did you get that? I heart KFC. The problem part of this comes from the fact that I hate poor service... and that’s consistently what I get every time I visit my local store. I can cheerfully claim that the Ayr store has the worst service I have experienced since I first had some hard-earned to spare. My last experience was so bad, dear reader that after this week’s post-swim laziness got to work on my brain, I took the wee fella to McDonalds. Aye, I know. Shock horror. No need to throw the plates out with the dishwater, I hear you say. But there you have it. I've sold out.

The last time I visited KFC, Ayr there was a queue of about eight people and only 1 of the three tills had someone in attendance. The whole thing about convenience food is the convenience, right? It ain’t very convenient if in the time you wait you could have visited the supermarket, driven home, prepared the ingredients and served up a wholesome meal. And of course every five minutes you are stood standing in said queue you debate with yourself – I should just go, I’ll give it another five minutes. And of course five minutes pass with all the fury of a feather floating in a weak draft. Then you say to yourself, I’ve waited all this time, I may as well stay. Meanwhile, the wee fella is moaning in a theatrical bellow – dad, what’s taking so long? As if it’s my freakin’ fault. The other adults around us are wearing expressions that are the very definition of “Stoic” and I’m thinking, why don’t you dumb fucks go somewhere else? But of course they are on the same internal journey that I am.

Now I can see the till. The ...let’s give him a name...the Operative at the till could give a flying fried chicken wing (see what I did there) that every eye in the room is on him and they are all now being switched from “Stoic” to “Glare”. The reason for this lack of concern, I assume, is because he has a horrific case of acne and its so bad the whole world can go fuck itself. Try and imagine someone took a straw, filled it with a tomato sauce and then sprayed it with care over his t-zone. Then they left him out in the sun to dry. Then they painted a wee yellow dot at the centre of each “spot”.

By now the chicken cooking crew are running out of chicken so the Operative takes a person’s order, passes their receipt to the side and then takes the next person’s order. A wee girl swaps her chicken cooking apron for an Operative’s badge complete with the appellation “Trainee” and walks out front to help.

Chaos ensues.

The trainee takes on an appearance of concern and stands in the one place and looks from the Operative to the chicken to the crew in the back cooking the chicken and from there to the queue who to a man are silently willing her to Freakin’ Move. She’s giving gormless a whole new flavour. Eventually, she rouses herself to action and places some orders on some trays and some people get to carry their food over to a table, relief making them appear about ten years younger.

The queue is now stretched to the door and every time I glance over my shoulder to see someone else has joined I want to scream at them - Get out. Go. Go now before the Crap Service/ Chicken Hunger trap gets you. I however, am caught as if my feet are glued to the floor.

A woman from the middle of the queue loses patience and walks up to the counter. She ignores the people who are next in line to be served and demands that more people are brought out to help man the counter. The operative looks at her and shrugs. He purses his lips. Well, he sticks his bottom lip out and then he goes back to take the order from the next person in the queue. The woman learns her lesson –that basically she has as much importance as a bluebottle drowning in batter – and chastened she returns to her place in the queue like she has been sent there by the headmaster rather than a spotted youth who has yet to master the art of making facial expressions.

My beard has grown a centimetre, the wee fella’s belly has shrunk by the same measurement and eventually we reach the counter. I lean against it to make sure it is solid and not a mirage brought about by chicken and batter deprivation. The operative looks in my direction. Chews the inside of his lip in what I assume passes for “May I take your order”. So pleased that I have actually reached the stage where a meal is actually achievable, I pass on the opportunity to tell him what I think of the appalling service and I give him my order. He reads the cost of my food from the till and I realise that this is the first time I have heard him speak. Feeling that I should offer some form of congratulation I hand over the cash. He gives me a receipt and looks at the person behind me. A look that I assume is meant to mean “next please”. He is yet to look me in the eye.

I need to relax my jaw. It’s clamped shut with the effort of not shouting at someone. I turn to the wee fella and time I suggest we come here will you slam my hand in the car door? My son looks at me with that expression... and I experience a moment of recognition – a moment of pure horror. I look from him to the Operative and a voice screams in my mind. Noooooo.

Some folks behind me have their order taken in the same desultory manner. But the trainee has risen to the challenge and more and more people actually get their food within an almost reasonable time.

Then I realise that people who’d had their order taken after me are getting their meals before me. Hunger has made my mind like a steel trap, has it not. Hey, I say, where’s mine? The Trainee blushes. The Operative maintains the same expression he has worn since I walked in the door. In Scotland we have a great word for it; glaikit. (Pronounced glay-kit, it means stupid beyond measure) They look at the receipts and ignore the chicken free zone in front of me. They confer. And agree that I am right and the Operative fills a tray with my order. He has a slight and temporary squint in one eye that I optimistically read as an apology.

Before I pick up the tray, I assess my order.

- There’s only TWO pieces of chicken here, I say and wonder who the crazy person is that has taken over my voice and added a strong dose of Ayrshire to it along with a thick lacing of crabbit. - I ordered a three piece meal. Three. Piece. Meal. (I can only speak in a staccato manner because I’m hyperventilating). There’s only ...two... pieces.

Bawheid, (pronounced baw – to rhyme with raw – heed; meaning your head is a ball and you are stupid beyond measure) formally known as the Operative looks at my tray and then looks at my receipt. With alacrity – oh, okay – with a movement that suggests he might have the ability to act with alacrity if say, the building was on fire and the person in front of him was stealing his mobile phone and his ipod, he dumps a chicken thigh on my tray.

I turn and join the wee fella at a table. The first piece of chicken makes it down the back of my throat without being chewed. In fact not one part of the chicken touches one part of the inside of my mouth. My son looks at me in a way that Bart might have looked at Homer and asks,

- Dad, when do I get to shut your hand in the car door?


  1. I pray your son will never have to work at the KFC! but i do try not to be too harsh with the little people because i don't want them spitting or some other horrid thing to my food while it's still in the back!! i saw that movie!! mikey, thanks for translating the scots! today is halloween here so there is way too much candy floating around my house. hope it makes it into the kiddie loot bags.

  2. ha! my posting security word was 'gasit' - so appropo to the kfc discussion!

  3. Good luck with that, Thea. I bought some chocolate bars for the local kids and I'm hoping they hurry up and get here before I eat it all!

  4. Oh buggery bollocks (can you say that in a comments section?) I completely forgot about it being Hallowe'en - and thus forgot to buy the Trick or Treat goodies. So I'll be lying on the floor in a darkened room with the TV volume way down low then.

  5. Gilly, you can say whatever the fukc you like. Good luck with ignoring the trick n treaters. I hope they come in their hordes or I'll have to eat all the goodies.

  6. Great stuff Michael. You know how to give the Wee Man a good time, don't you? But he always manages to keep his focus.

  7. aye right, Bill. Every expense spared.

  8. OMG, it's global. I thought ours was the worst. EVERY time I break down and visit I swear I will not return. (I shouldn't be here. I'm supposed to be doing Nano. But a wee Man blog. Absolutely can't pass that up.)

  9. OH! I had a trick or treater last night who just turned the knob and walked in. Freaked me out. No parent along with the little monster.

  10. Marley, I had one visitor. We call them guisers here. As in, in disguise. I think the KFC business model must be "Bare Minimum Staff". McDonalds service was excellent.