Your order name is: RED
As a parent of a very picky six year old, there are times where I’m buying the same food at the same place for months at a time. When he was younger, Dunkin Donuts put aside a vanilla frosted donut every night. Just for him, just to guarantee he would get his special treat. They got a Christmas card from us as a thank you for their customer service. There’s a woman at Burger King who recognizes my voice over drive thru. I roll down the back window as I pull around so the two of them can have a small talk. Then there’s Wendy’s.
Earlier when Wendy’s had the build your own dinosaur kids’ meal toys we had to collect them all. Only the T-Rex remained. We went into the restaurant, ordered, and got something else. Not a big deal I thought. We’ll try again next time. But my kid sees the world differently, and in this moment he was seeing it through tears. All he wanted was that missing part of the set. I never caught the girl’s name but someone behind the counter ran to the back, dug through the other toys, and found the elusive king of the dinosaurs. I’ve never seen a happier child nor a happier employee. As a fellow retail veteran I recognized that look. She knew that today her work mattered and was appreciated.
When we eat inside Wendy’s we have to eat in the “basement”. Not every location is the same, but most of the ones around here have two steps down to a seating area with windows all the way around. We watch cars go by, play Pokemon, eat some quality chicken and square burgers, and I get nostalgic. My mom used to take my brother and I to Wendy’s very often and we always had to sit in that same spot at a different location. As an adult who did not yet have a child this special seating area was the scene of the infamous “oops oops” kid. A child wanting nothing more than to help out mom by carrying the tray down to their seats. He didn’t see the steps coming, caught himself off of the first one, but the food went every where on the second step. Oops. OOPS!
Wendy’s took care of this family’s order, and all was well by the end. Remember, I’m the guy who wrote this defending the existence of Wendy’s Super Bar. https://www.rediscoverthe80s.com/2013/05/podtalk-wendy-superbar-defender.html
Lately we have to skip the drive thru whenever we head to the House of Dave Thomas because it’s easier to explore all that the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine has to offer from inside the restaurant. Raspberry Sprite please. Which while there’s sugar I’m glad for the caffeine pass. So I walk in and have the routine down for his order. Chicken nuggets, fries, I’ll take the cup over to the soda machine, no sauce he doesn’t like to dip. By the time I walk over to the machine and play with the buttons, the order is ready. I bring it home like a hero done with my day of work. Then we play with toys, video games, run around crazy, or maybe he jumps on my back if it’s been a long day.
Today I walked in to order and the cashier cut me off. “No sauce and soda, right” Yes. “I’m learning.” I laugh at being a creature of habit and didn’t realize how much habit until my name came up for the order. No, not Kevin. “Red”. Over the years of writing and using my profile pictures on t-shirts and such the color red has become my favorite. I have red hoodies, shirts, usually look for some red trim in my sneakers, and this time of year I daily wear my giant red winter coat.
I guess it stands out.
It could be my height, or that I have a regular work schedule which means my shopping and eating are usually at the same time. All of which increases the possibility of seeing the same employee who always works weeknights from 3-10, or when ever.
But it was more than the coat. It was everything presented. Just done with work and heading home with a treat for my kid. That might seem like little on paper but in the real world that’s everything. It means I have a job, that I have a family, a wife and kid that I look forward to seeing. That I will make extra stops to do stuff for. That I say please and thank you to any and all employees. That I understand if an order takes a little longer one day. That there are other customers and my 5 minute transaction is not the highlight nor focus for those 5 minutes much less the day.
Years ago a group of my friends were sitting around and the question arose, who has the most nicknames? I won by far. Yet in that long long list, “Red” was no where near. Until today. I’ll accept this persona of Red. The dad in the coat. The one who just wants to work, spend time with my family, and escape by writing things like this as often as I can.
Thank you for making me feel like a good person, Wendy’s. We’ll make plans for breakfast soon.