An Open Letter to Chick-fil-A

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November 6, 2007

To the staff at the new Chick-fil-A that just opened up this year within walking distance of where we live:

I’ve been there. I’ve worked at Wendy’s, at every position except a managerial role, for a number of years, and while I never made employee of the month, I did a darn good job. I was always cheerful and happy, cleaned everything I was told to, even when I thought wiping the underside of a table was dumb, and read through training manuals on my breaks to advance my own position. My favorite job was drive-through. I know how frustrating drive-through can be when people want some seriously-customized order, and gosh darn it, they better get it exactly the way they want it or somebody’s gonna get yelled at. Yeah, been there, done that.

Today, you greeted me very cheerfully, even though you couldn’t have known that I’m on this Isagenix program a nd not even supposed to BE there, but the drive-through line was 6 cars deep at Wendy’s or I’d have had a hamburger instead. I ordered the healthiest plain-looking grilled chicken sandwich on a wheat bun that you offer, and in a moment of weakness ordered a Dr. Pepper. Unfortunately, as healthy as my meal would have been, I knew it was going to come with your yummy, salted cross-cut fries, and I had determined, since there was a garbage can about 10 feet from the drive-through window to simply toss the fries with the Dr. Pepper (after taking a sip or two of course), since all I wanted was a low-calorie lunch.

You were very pleasant at the window, took my money, gave me back my change very carefully, and handed me my bag of food as I declined ketchup and mayonnaise. I pulled a few feet forward to toss the temptation-laded french fries, reached into the bag, and felt through the napkins to … styrofoam? I looked in the bag, and saw the black styrofoam container for my sandwich, but no fries.

Now, I could have just pulled away since I didn’t want them anyway, but darn it, when someone gives you $7 for a combo meal, you should at least check the bag to make sure you at least give them the whole combo, right?

So I pulled over, went into the store, and you recognized me and asked what I needed. I commented how I didn’t get my fries and 4 people started tripping over themselves, including you, to finish filling my order, while your manager stood there apologizing and offering me a brownie. No, no brownie, thanks. Yes, I’m sure. No, no other side, just the fries please. I smiled all the way, as I knew a pep talk was coming your way as soon as I left. Not smiling in a mean way, smiling because I’ve been there too, and it brought back memories of my first real meaningful job in high school.

You handed me my new bag of food, complete with a large container of fries while I only ordered a regular combo, apologized very sincerely, and your manager again offered me a brownie for my trouble while you went back to the window. No, really, lady, I don’t want your brownie. She stuck out her hand as I walked away, and I stopped, realizing she wanted to shake my hand. You’d escaped at this point, but I shook your manager’s hand, and she asked me my name, and then apologized for the zillionth time, using my name in the sentence, and offering me, for the zillionth time, a free brownie. At the hilarity of it all, I grinned and said it’s really no trouble at all, and no, really, I don’t want a brownie, and said goodbye.

On my way out the door, I reached into the bag, grabbed and ate one french fry, to make it look like I really wanted the fries after all, and after making sure none of you were looking, tossed the rest in the trash. ‘Cause hey, it was the principle of the thing, right?

So thanks for making me smile today. You’ve shown on two other occasions that yours is a well-run establishment and your cooking’s not half bad either. The fact that you advertise yourself as a Christian organization, stay closed on Sunday, and pipe in Christian music in your dining area assures that I’ll be back the next time I have a moment of weakness and don’t want to eat celery sticks and apple slices for lunch.