Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Nastygrams and changing tastes

I go to the same McDonald’s by my house all the time, and they constantly screw up drive-through orders. They forget to do special orders (no onion, no pickles), they give me the wrong salad, they make a single cheeseburger into a double and vice-versa, and one in four times, they forget to give you the sandwich. I wrote a really pissy letter to corporate, just to see what form letter they would send back. A day or two later, a regional manager is calling me at home, wanting to talk about the situation. Then a letter arrived with great apologies and coupons for two free meals. Squeaky wheel, but the next time I went, they forgot my salad dressing.

Similarly, Sarah has been sending nasty mail to American Airlines since we got back from our honeymoon, over their inability to actually ship luggage correctly. To ensure success, she got on EDGAR and sent copies of the letter to each person on the board of directors. We got an apology letter on Saturday, along with $500 in vouchers and 10,000 miles. The only thing I wonder is how do you spend a paper voucher for a plane ticket? I don’t think I’ve ever bought a plane ride in person as a cash transaction, unless I was flying it or jumping out of it.

My other random train of thought lately is all of the stuff I used to like that I don’t like anymore. It’s odd, because when I was in New York, I really craved certain things that weren’t available without renting a car and driving to Pittsburgh, and I used to constantly bitch about not having them. Now, for the most part, I do, and a lot of them, I don’t care for anymore.

Case in point: Denny’s. I used to absolutely love that place. Went there for my birthday every year, and spent many a late night there. In Seattle, my Friday night routine after waking up from my post-work slumber was to drive across the 520 bridge to Bellevue, eat a dinner at Denny’s while scribbling in a spiral notebook, then head over to B&N to browse the books and buy one or two or ten. Then stay up reading or writing all night, wake up Saturday afternoon, and sit in bed reading, and basking in the sun through my giant window next to my bed. And New York broke that routine, even though there were a lot of diners. Denny’s was moved to that special treat when I was traveling somewhere else, and I wanted to catch a grand slam and some writing when it was 3AM in Vegas, or Tampa, or DC, or whatever. (Actually, don’t go to that one in DC at 3AM.)

But now, I really don’t like Denny’s. Maybe the food has changed, and I know the menu has changed. Maybe I don’t have any tolerance for the run-down interiors. Maybe it’s because I always accidentally show up on the insipid “kids eat free” night, when you always see a family with 28 kids who should probably be medicated for their hyperactivity, and of course the guy always leaves a 12-cent tip and the servers are so pissed off, it’s impossible to eat there. But seriously, I used to be able to tell you exactly what I wanted from the menu, and now I stare at it forever, thinking “I don’t know…” and I’m never happy with the end result. Maybe I’m growing up/old/stupid.

Other examples: 7-Eleven. I used to go there every night in Seattle, when I finished writing, to get a slurpee. Now I never go there. Nothing there really interests me anymore. And after bitching forever about not having one in NYC, they finally got them, and I think I went twice.

The McRib: used to love it. It never came to New York, but I remember flying home from somewhere, and ending up in the Cincy airport and the McD there had them, and it was pure joy. I ate one in Germany and it was horrid, because the pork is cured weird there or something. They just got them back in CO and I had one – no good.

IHOP: similar to Denny’s. I want to like it because I have some nice memories of the place, as stupid as that may sound. But it also gave me food poisoning this year. And none of the IHOPs here are those little A-frame chapel-type things. The only two I remember in NYC were way the hell out in Queens (I remember going to that one with Julie after we saw Twisted Sister at L’amour) and the one up in the Bronx. I remember eating at one with SiD in Kansas City. My old friend Tom Sample lived across the street from one in Indy in like 95. When Ken Rawlings swung through Seattle once, that’s where we hung out and talked. Me and Marie ended up at one on a Thanksgiving night, because everything was closed. Many nice memories. And memories of spending a week hunched over a toilet, puking my guts out.

The one thing I always missed that I have now is Target. And I wish I didn’t, because I spend about $200 a day there. They do have nice motorized carts there, if you’re a cripple. Even if you aren’t, go borrow some crutches and check it out.

The other thing is Coke. I mentioned the holiday Coke bottles a few posts ago, but they did this new thing this year: they released Coke bottles that look like the old, turn-of-the-century, non-hourglass bottles. They’re from when Coke was a patent medicine filled with cocaine and whatever else, and was in those rubber stoppered bottles that look like old-timey whisky bottles. Well, they’re selling six-packs of those bottles, slightly miniaturized, with a modern crown cap on top, and they are cool as hell. Same Coke as ever, but it always seems to drink better in glass. And they make a nice Molotov cocktail, too. Try doing that with a plastic 2-liter.