A beef or two with the fast food industry

One of my duties as a columnist is to make the world a better place by sarcastically complaining about trivial things that I think need improving.

Someone has to do it. You’re welcome.

Today’s complaint is fast food. I typically don’t eat in fast food establishments because I have this irrational desire to live beyond 60.

Nonetheless, I found myself inside one the other day to pick up food for my teenage son, to whom the four food groups are Qdoba, McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Burger King. This, however, was none of those. This was … well, let’s just call it, “Bendy’s.”

He doesn’t usually eat Bendy’s but he felt like “something different,” meaning he wanted the same things he gets at the other places, only from a different place and in a slightly different form. He’s a real gourmand.

Specifically, he wanted a “large combo meal” and a spicy chicken sandwich. That sounds like a lot of food but I will remind you that he is a teenager and a distance runner, meaning that when he’s hungry the dog runs and hides.

“That’ll be $14.37,” the counter person said. My inner grandpa was immediately activated. “Fourteen dollars? That’s outrageous! That’s highway robbery! It’s just two sandwiches, a potato’s worth of fries and some sugar water! Why, in my day, that food would have cost HALF that much …” and so on. Inner granddad can really get cranking. Stay off his lawn.

I didn’t actually say any of that out loud, by the way, because I try to remember that counter people have tough enough jobs as it is.

So I went home and said it.

“Good god, not this again,” was the lovely yet formidable Marcia’s eye-rolling response. “I suppose now you’re going to launch into your theory about how if fast food is going charge so much money maybe we should stop busing the tables for them.”

The woman knows me well.

But it’s true. I have never understood how fast food restaurants ever convinced us to bus our own tables. I’ve never been told or asked to do it. I’ve never seen a sign telling me to. And yet I do it anyway. But why? So-called sit-down restaurants don’t ask me to bus the table, throw out the scraps or sort my trash by disposable, compostable or recyclable.

So why does fast food? Better yet, why don’t they do it themselves? It’s their restaurant. I wouldn’t invite them to my house and ask them to clean up after dinner.

I’m a curious sort, so I’ve actually asked fast food customers why we do it. They usually say, “I don’t know. To keep the cost down?”

OK, that makes sense. But if we do in fact have a tacit agreement to clean up after ourselves, I would submit to you that fast food restaurants have broken it by increasing their prices to the point that my inner grandpa is activated, and it is thus null and void.

Thus, from now on, when I eat in a fast food restaurant I will finish my meal, wipe my mouth with a napkin and leave the clean-up to them. I encourage you to do so as well.

And now you know why my family refuses to go out to eat with me anymore.