I remember once reading an article about a MacDonald's in Melbourne, that refused drive-way service to two young equestrians, whose horses, though legally classed as a vehicle on the road, were dismissed by MacDonalds as animals and their riders were told to park their horses and go inside, should they want to enjoy a meal. But they would not be served on horse back. They felt sufficiently discriminated against to have called in the media!
I had completely forgotten that sad and pathetic refusal of service, until one particular evening, when I had come home from the races. It was dinner time and I was hungry. There was nothing in the fridge. I'd had enough glasses of wine to be sufficiently responsible not to drive. I was certainly not "drunk and disorderly". My dog was waiting for his daily walk. It was beginning to get dark.
I decided, very practically, to combine both walking the dog, with the pursuit of food within walking distance.
I knew I could not take my dog into the two Chinese Cafes, the Noodle Bar, or local fish and chip vendor. Then I had a light bulb moment. MacDonald's had a drive through that I could walk through and it would be, should be, no problem getting served take away, via their outdoor servery set up. It had been at least five years since I had eaten at MacDonalds, by choice. This time it was sheer desperation for a light meal!
Tummy rumbling, dog in tow I strode up to the order microphone and delivered my order. No response. I tried again.
I walked on to the delivery window and politely said their order device didn't seem to be working and explained that I had twice tried to place an order.
This was the night I truly discovered Macca's can't cope with any degree of variation!
Now when you are over 50, it is very demeaning to have a fresh faced fifteen year old trainee, order you, an unsuspecting customer around and laud it over you. The unfortunate teen grew in her despotic strength as she exchanged glances with her equally young partner in crime and curtly advised me that, "the "drive thru" is for car orders only. We are not permitted to serve anyone on foot".
She continued to officiously instruct me to tie my dog up outside the restaurant and go inside if I wanted to eat.
I retorted with "Howitt Street is a busy road, I am NOT tieing my dog up out the front, where he might either escape and be killed on the road, or be stolen by the patrons or staff at the Wendouree MacDonalds'.
"If you won't accomodate me on foot, with my dog at this window, I am going to cause maximum inconvenience and maybe even instil fear into your next driveway customer. I am going to request them to stop, explain the ridiculous situation, hand over my money in good faith and request that they purchase my order and then hand it to me at the exit to your "Drive Thru" service. I will not be setting foot in your restaurant. My dog is with me. That is why I want to place an order here!"
I was wishing my dog were a huge breed with a reputation of guarding and attacking, instead of being a friendly, gentle whippet. Could I command an "attack mode" response instead of a tail wag at these unfortunately inflexible young women?
"That is hardly good for the poor customer in the car now, is it?" I added.
'I'll keep stopping them until someone is willing to buy my dinner. You will still serve me and deliver my order through this very window, but I will not be the one placing the order!"
I was wanting to dance about and sing "nah na na nar nah". like a vengeful small child with this last statement. I felt like poking my tongue out and pulling a face. No wonder Macca's is popular with elderly people. It positively encourages its customers to revert back to childhood. It was happening to me. I needed to get my own back. This was my means of doing it!
I intended being a very bad ad for Macdonalds. If I wasn't so hungry and with my dog, I would not be here anyway. I would have opted for a much tastier and more delicious take-away food option from any that I had passed.
Luckily, the very first car I approached, as they pulled up to the order micrphone, obliged. The lovely woman and her little girl were far more understanding and reasonable than the ill thought out policies and practices of this "great multinational corporation", that so many people revere and patronise on a regular basis.
From MacDonald's point of view, they are probably worried about animal excrement soiling their "Drive Thru". Well, as a responsible canine owner I had my plastic bag in readiness for just such an occurance. If they are seriously concerned about my safety on their "drive thru", then they must have a pretty low opinion of the driving skills of their customers. Odds of them hitting me and my dog would be about a million to one. They go through at 5 km an hour. If they seriosly expect clients with pets, to order and eat within their "restaurants", then they should provide nice outdoor areas we can enjoy with our pets in tow. Many other cafe's realise this is good for business and even provide water bowls so that the animals might quench their thirst. But no. MacDonalds is not one of these establishments. They may be family friendly, but they sure "ain't" pet friendly.
I wonder if Italian and French MacDonalds outlets treat those, who seek to purchase food whilst with their pets, so unsympathetically?
MacDonald's is pretty calice towards all of us that own and love our pets. They should read up on "child substitute" psychology and modern definitions of families, get it right and be even more successful than they are. There is big money in pet's parties and most animals that accompany their owners to eat out publically, are well behaved and socialised. Children might even like our pets more than the gimmicky toys MacDonald's uses to get kids through their cash registers on a regular basis!
It's a very sad day when an inanimate object, like a car, has complete "right of way" and I, as a human, with or without my pet, feel like I have no rights at all. MacDonald's Wendouree, made me feel like I was a vagrant witch, rather than a valued customer. I became an adult revisiting the disempowerment of childhood within this experience; so much for the "golden arches". So much for good will, or "the customer is always right". So much for Macca's. Let the buyer beware!