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So I went to Arby's for a sandwich and some fried things, and that's when I met Carolina. She resembled a young Christina Ricci: Italianate, short dark hair, petite and thin as a rail, not much more than 100 pounds, and with a mouth full of metal braces. I gathered this job at Arby's was her first. It made me think of my first job when I was fifteen, making lots of observations along the way. Based on my experience in foodservice, if Carolina is still working at Arby's in three years, she'll have probably formed a babby, be pragnent, or perhaps both. But for now, this can be the "fun work atmosphere" these companies like to promote in their recruiting efforts. I also felt old for a moment; fortunately, feeling old never really bothered me.
So after I told her I wanted a sandwich and some fried stuff, she asked my name. Now I know she doesn't give a shit what my name is, even if we had been the same age. Apparently, in an effort to entice customers to spend more money, Arby's is trying to convey a feeling of belonging. You're not just a number when you order beef-on-a-roll at Arby's! Arby's just wants to give you a great big hug, after all! I never studied psychology, but I have a GED in the subject, so I saw it coming a mile away.
I remembered reading Freakonomics, in which the authors applied economic statistics to explain social trends. In one chapter, the authors wanted to see if having an ethnic- or poor-sounding name puts job applicants at a disadvantage. They passed an urban legend about an unusual name along as fact. So back at Arby's, young and enthusiastic Carolina seemed like the perfect mark.
"Shuh-TADE" I answered.
"How do you spell that?" she asked. My plan was working perfectly.
"S-H-I..." I paused, then finished "T-H-E-A-D." Then I gave her some cash.
Carolina paused for a moment, realizing what she had typed into the register, but wouldn't question it. When she put the money in the register, the display said something like "Thank You SHITHEAD For Your Order."
And if you don't believe me, the receipt says pretty much the same thing:
Instead of calling an order number when your sandwich is ready, the policy is to call out your name. I stepped away, but I heard Carolina tell her manager "I'll wait until he comes back." I didn't want Carolina to get into trouble and put her job at risk. Instead, I think everyone involved got a good laugh. Maybe the manager, a woman of 20 I assume has at least 2 kids to care for, told Carolina she's allowed to question such a joke in the future. Either that, or Arby's will rescind this silly policy in the future.
In keeping with the policy of bogus concern, Carolina was cleaning tables in the dining area, paused, and asked if everything was satisfactory. I thought about telling her my secret identity, explaining the joke, the Rotteneggs story-writing process, and seeing if she'd agree to pose with me for a picture to include here. Instead, I channelled Jim Carrey from the movie Liar Liar, and answered, "I've had better." She flashed a pretty, though metallic, grin. I immediately followed with "But it's still pretty good."
I haven't seen her working there since, but I've used the name "Uh-SHOOL" in this situation with other employees, always female. That's spelled ASHOL. I'll put up more pictures later if this works.
UPDATE 8/05/2011: Here are a couple more trophies,
I was inspired by Asok, pronounced a-SHOOK, the young Indian-born engineer in the Dilbert comics. Tell them your name is a-SHOOL, and then spell it when they ask.