Saturday, July 28, 2007

McDonalds and Kingston's Sleeping Goats

Oh well, it's weekend again, I hope you will forgive my penchant for a suitably irrelevant posting to celebrate weekend.

I developed the habit of going to The Sleepless Goat, a little local cooperative run, kinda alternative restaurant-bistro-hangout that sells mostly vegetarian food. Their service is not just a little bit slower than that of other places, but you get in return a reasonably nice atmosphere, truly nice food and a chance to grab a local paper someone left behind without having to buy one. So, there you have it, I'm a freeloader when it comes to left-behind newspapers. Anyway, I digress. As I indicated, the service isn't exactly up to scratch in terms of speed or efficiency, but it's outweighed by a number of pluses such as good quality vegetarian food etc. Well, in the Goat they've a habit of not taking orders at the table or supplying you with cutlery. That's all probably suitably alternative (mind you, they take credit cards, so they're not that alternative after all, I suspect). You've to grab cutlery from another counter where sometimes you're able to find cutlery, sometimes you can't. So, today there's nothing when I was hoping to somehow eat the food that I had just paid for at the counter, and that I had dutifully carried to my table. Bit troubled by the idea to eat with my fingers I tried to grab a knife and fork from behind a glass counter where it was piling up quite nicely, all wrapped up in paper napkin as it should be.

And this is the moment where I had a McDonald's like encounter with a member of the cooperative. A stern young woman scolded me for daring to grab cutlery from behind the counter. I wasn't supposed to do so. I whimpered that there's no cutlery on the counter to which she directed me (finger in the air, you get the picture, I suppose). Not one to lose an important fight such as this one, she eventually relinquished a set of dripping wet cutlery (knife, fork, no napkin), but not without telling me again that I wasn't supposed to get the cutlery from the pile that she was guarding against a silly-as-me customer trying to get hold of cutlery. I retreated quietly to my table and ate my food, knowing full-well that my transgression had been substantial, yet the system had prevailed.

McDonald's is in that sense quite similar. There are rules. One of em is that you must not get their breakfast after a certain point in time (10 or 10:30 am, I guess). Arguably, for health reasons it might be good if one was never able to get any of their 'food', but that's neither here nor there. I recall a story where back in Melbourne I desperately needed a very quick breakfast. I saw behind the counter in the holding place they've got (ie where they keep 'food' hot) that they had two breakfast boxes left. I asked for one of them (I didn't want to wait for any other 'food' due to time constraints). Well, it had been something like a minute or two after their breakfast deadline and I wasn't permitted to purchase the food behind the counter. A counter executive quite comparable to our workers' coop operative made very clear to me that I could look at the breakfast box, but buying one I could not. None of this made any sense either, but there you go, the system prevailed against common sense. And that, quite possibly, is what systems are all about.

I do believe the Sleepless Goat's cooperative member guarding her pile of cutlery against a customer and the McDonald's staff member protecting breakfast 'food' from getting sold a minute or two after an arbitrary deadline had passed, arguably have the same problem with authority that I have (I don't take it seriously, they want to execute what little power they have - bad mix).

The morale of the story, the alternative crowd (my ideological stomping ground, I guess) is not that different from bottom-of-the-ladder staff flipping burgers in a strictly hierarchical organisation such as McDonalds. Just give em a chance ... I did, I learned my lesson, I bickered on my blog about it. End of story.

Make sure you visit the Goat whenever you get into Kingston. I think their salads and deserts are fantastic and so are some of their coffee creations. Just consider bringing your own cutlery etc etc

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