Actually, if you think about it, there are lots of them, generally unevenly distributed. And while not all of them happen to be patronizing fast-food establishments at this point in time, underneath their layer of inconsideration they’re pretty much all alike:
For a fast-food operation to work efficiently, customers must grasp the Zen of the thing and do their part to keep the deep-fried kharma flowing. When the cashier says, “May I help you?” the Good Customer speaks his order clearly, watching the cashier as she enters it, so that he doesn’t speak faster than the data can be entered into the register. Be clear and concise, so that even a 19-year-old high-school dropout with a meth habit earning $8 an hour can’t get your order wrong.
The customer at the counter, however, is the Bad Customer. She doesn’t know what she wants, and insists on interrogating the cashier about the menu items and the pricing packages on the menu. “If I get the No. 2, can I substitute onion rings for the fries?” and “Can I get that Super Deluxe Big Burger without lettuce?”
If you had a baseball bat handy, the Bad Customer would not be long for this world. When the line is backed up, and people are waiting behind you for their turn to order, you do not do this. There will be no damned special orders at 12:42 p.m. on Wednesday, ma’am, and if you can’t spot something on the menu sign that suits you — “I would like a No. 3 to go, please” — then why don’t you stay home and eat there?
My particular, um, Industry is so ridden with these misbegotten creatures as to make me suspect that they’re more the norm than the exception. Most of them do their business over the phone or the Web, though, so the baseball-bat idea, while immensely appealing, is not practicable. If I had a dime for every corksoaking icehole who calls up here mere seconds after completing a Web transaction to whine, “I used the wrong credit card, can I substitute this one instead?” — well, I couldn’t actually retire on that sum, but the interim between now and then would be decidedly more pleasant.