OK, a little breathing space this afternoon, so here goes:
As Connie may have hinted at in the previous post comments, one of my two part-time employers is hosting a conference this week, and it’s been time-consuming. It’s short but pretty dense-packed, and between the tweeting and coffee-swilling and field-trip wrangling, I haven’t had much time to spare. Yesterday was “Detroit Day” for our guests, policy researchers from several different states, and we had sessions on the bankruptcy, the autonomous-vehicle future, the lead neurotoxin menace and to finish the day, a bus tour to two urban farms. There were a lot of details and emails involved, but it all came off without a hitch, so most of the pressure is off now. Tonight is a dinner at the DIA, then the rest is just administrative stuff and waving goodbye.
Let me begin by asking for a show of hands: Anybody been to a McDonald’s lately? If your hand is up, can you tell me what the hell is going on at that place? Because I’ve stopped there twice in maybe the last six months, and if this is the way they’re running, sell your stock.
I guess I have to start with the usual disclaimers: I’m not a regular, although I’ll stop there from time to time when I’m on a long drive and it’s clear there will be no Steak & Shake for at least 100 miles, or if I’m running between errands and ravenously hungry with no time to eat. A small fries and a Diet Coke will tide me over to the next real-food occasion pretty well. Oh, and cards on the table: I still enjoy an Egg McMuffin from time to time. Maybe twice a year.
As it happened, some of these circumstances led me to a Mickey D’s a couple times lately. Both times, the drive-through lanes were backed way up, and I figured I could park, order inside and be on my way in less time. If only. They’ve revamped their order-and-delivery system, and the delays now make the term “fast food” ironic. Gone is the slanting aluminum rack behind the counter, where the cooks kept the wrapped burgers sliding down to the counter people to bag and deliver p.d.q. Now you get a slip with an order number, and you stand around and wait. And wait. And wait.
Both times I’ve been lately, it’s clear why the drive-through lane was backed up, why the lot’s been re-striped with sit-and-wait parking spots. I’ve had faster food service in bars. Hell, even in real restaurants, they can usually get a salad or bowl of soup out within a few minutes of ordering, but the other day it took at least 10 or 15 to deliver a quarter-pounder.
I suspect the labor shortage has something to do with this. We’re long past the time when a fast-food joint was a teenager’s traditional first job; I think the average FF worker’s age is now 31. Every McD’s I’ve been in lately has signs touting the excellent benefits to be gained from working there, and the smiling person on the poster rarely looks 16. It’s possible this is a transitional step to the order-from-kiosks model, too, and the kid running the register is simply dead man walking. Or it might just be that fast food is going through yet another transition as an industry, and I don’t read deep enough into the Wall Street Journal to know what it is.
Anyway, for as long as it took me to get my food, it took the kid in front of me about 20 to get his chicken nuggets.
OK, so a little bloggage:
How America uses its land — a data package with some great maps.
Here’s a piece from my other part-time job — not mine — about the GOP Senate battle here in Michigan. Two candidates are trying to outdo one another in pledging fealty to you-know-who. One is a young war vet, the other an older businessman. Both should know better, but I guess not:
A Pensler campaign ad noted that James’ only campaign contribution ever consisted of a $500 donation to a liberal Detroit City Council candidate who now supports “sanctuary cities,” which shield illegal immigrants from deportation. At the time, James said, he naively backed a local candidate running for office in a district that included his family’s Detroit business.
In response to a counterattack, Pensler was forced to defend a few campaign contributions he made to Democrats two decades ago. The wealthy financier said he has contributed more than 30 times to GOP candidates and his attempt to “cross the aisle” with Dem donations was a mistake.
…As both candidates vie for the affections of staunchly pro-Trump voters, James attacked “liberal” Pensler for saying Trump talks “like a fourth grader.” Pensler cried foul, contending that his remarks in context show that he was complimenting the president. He tried to say that Trump successfully boils issues down to a fourth-grade level, which Pensler views as an admirable political skill.
Not that they’re anywhere close to the bottom, either. Oh, no. This guy is much, much closer.
And with that, I’m going to try to grab a bike ride before I have to change for the evening. Thanks for bearing with the erratic schedule around here.