Why is it so difficult to order food?


I will never claim to be the healthiest person in the world.  There are slugs healthier than me.  However I’ve at least started making an effort to watch my calorie intake daily, and cut out things like fried food or anything from a drive up window, etc.  Unlike slugs, who apparently don’t care what they eat (although I hear they enjoy a mix of greens, and cut out almost all salt from their diet).

I’ve always had issues with food, and not the watching my weight kind of problems.  My issue really is that I just dislike most food, and the food I really enjoy is food that I should be staying away from.  I’m a picky eater, always have been and most likely always will be.  This creates a problem in my life when ordering food somewhere, and that brings me to the point I want to make.

What the hell happened to getting something “plain?”  Not only is ordering food highly complicated (I’ll explain why for those not understanding) but you are pushed to get the maximum amount of food you can possibly consume and on top of that, the worst type of food possible at any given time.  If there was a cheap way to serve deep fried grease and nothing else there would be a million franchises on the east coast alone.

I’ll start with an easy example; I cannot under any circumstances order a hamburger anywhere.  There is no such thing as a hamburger anymore; you must apparently say a hamburger with no cheese or in extreme circumstances a cheeseburger, no cheese.  Somewhere along the line a cheeseburger became a hamburger in the mind of everyone who takes an order from me.  This has happened to me multiple times, and I’m not exaggerating:

Underpaid Waitress: “And you sir?”

Me: “I would like a hamburger please.  Plain.”

Underpaid Waitress: “Cheese?”

Every time.  Why does plain even exist in the dictionary anymore (I had to check to make sure it actually still sits there, it does, no worries)?  Now this could be explained that said waitress doesn’t care, which is fine, but this happens everywhere.  Has anyone tried ordering, “Just an egg on a hard roll?”  If you haven’t yet, go do it, it’s wild.  How could you only want an egg?  No cheese?  No sausage?  No extra fat?  What’s the secret?  How come you don’t want more?!

Here is a better example that happens to my beloved wife each and every time we go out.  We’re at a simple diner, hungry after a long day of hard work.  I order and then:

Possibly so-so paid waitress: “And you dear?”

Wife: “Chicken sandwich, no fries.”

PSSPW: “You want something else?”

Wife: “What do you have?”

PSSPW: “Well, macaroni salad, potato salad, extra coleslaw, perhaps just a side of mayo?”

Wife: “No thank you, do you have salad?”

PSSPW: “Oh that will cost you an extra dollar.”

Wait, what?  An extra dollar?  What is wrong with this scenario?  It’s pretty much like the waitress was laughing on the inside to herself, “You don’t want fries?  Well I have other ways of making you eat; here have this glob of mayo, plenty where that came from.”  On top of that, after making you order food you didn’t want in the first place, when we don’t finish a plate, holy hell watch out.  That must be the 11th commandment, “Thou Shall Eat All the Food Upon Your Plate, or Else Children Will Starve After Eating McDonalds for the 4th Time in One Day.”  As you can see that needed its own tablet, the long lost third one.  Next time someone asks me or my wife if we didn’t like it, or why didn’t we finish I’m going to answer with, “No we liked it, we just decided to eat a normal human sized portion.”

I can’t even eat at Panera Bread anymore.  In reality it’s more of a refusal to eat there.  After you have tried ordering an egg on a hard roll with nothing else and you’re still looking to get your thrills, try this:

Step 1: Walk into a Panera, wait in line for 15 minutes.

Step 2: Reach counter, wait for a 5 minute spiel about their reward club something or other.

Step 3: Try and order a chicken sandwich on a French baguette, plain.

Step 4:  Watch the clerk struggle with your order as she calls over the floor lead, and then the    manager to where you have three people looking between the register and board of           sandwiches, completely confused as to how to order that, and why someone is putting them    through this torture.

This has happened so many times, I’ve actually thought of recording each event and making them into a feature length movie.  However I’ve officially boycotted Panera and haven’t been there in almost a year.

I have one last story containing food, and after some deep thought, this may be why I loathe cheeseburgers so much.  A long time ago, in a town far, far away… I was on a family trip up north near the Canadian border.  We stopped at a Howard Johnsons, which at that point I had never been to.  I think I was around 10 or 11, maybe even 12 but that general age.  I already knew what I wanted, (it wasn’t a deli so no turkey sandwich, it wasn’t a pizzeria so no pizza) I went with my trusty companion, the hamburger.  In went the order and out came something else.  The dreaded cheeseburger had arrived and being a shy wee one, I didn’t exactly demand attention, but I struck up enough courage to tell the waitress my order was wrong.  I don’t remember her or if she was pleasant or mean, but I do remember one thing.  She took it in the back to make me another one, and in some sort of time travel paradox she was back out only a minute or two later.  A Christmas miracle!  But no, my hopes were dashed that some unexplained time rift caused an instant burger.  She scraped the cheese off, flipped the burger, and placed it back on the bun.  She must have thought I was stupid not to check my burger again, she thought I wouldn’t notice, but I did.  I saw those tiny bits of cheese left around the edge. I don’t remember what happened after that, but I remember a broken plate, blood, and her lying on the floor.

Just kidding.  Could you imagine?

While writing this, I did come to one conclusion.  There is one thing where I don’t have to alter my ordering skills, or worry that it could be mistaken, or extra needless things I’ll never use like lettuce and a slice of flimsy, warm tomato.  Pizza, just regular, plain old pizza.  It’s simple, you call up, “Yes a large pizza please.”  Done, end of story, I move on with the rest of my day, and enjoy the greasy pizza I just ordered.



Do something good.


2 thoughts on “Why is it so difficult to order food?

  1. Very well written! Laughed out loud a few times while chuckling through most of it. I’m sure many people can relate to , if not all, at least some of it. Funny!

  2. I totally get the Panera problem. Maeve likes plain roast beef sandwich on honey wheat. Unfortunately it is not on the menu. So we go through the turkey on honey wheat, minus lettuce, minus tomato, minus mayo, substitute roast beef. Or the alternative is Asiago roast beef, substitute honey wheat, minus cheese, minus horseradish sauce, minus tomato, minus lettuce. Then the server says, “Let me read this back to you”. Inevitably it is wrong when it comes to the counter and I have to explain again “the kid just wants plain roast beef on honey wheat, please.”

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