You saw the movie The Exorcist, right? Do you remember how terrifying it was every time Regan’s mother approached her daughter’s bedroom? You just didn’t know what she would find, what increasingly horrifying thing she would face when she went through that door.
Well, that’s sort of how my family feels when they go to KFC/A&W in my southwest Montana town, where I imagine priests and ministers of various faiths have stopped by on occasion. To eat, presumably -- but you never know. Something is always very wrong at KFC. Always.
You may wish to know what could be so wrong with a single, all-American eating establishment. You may not wish to know. You may not care because you don’t like fried chicken, crispy, original recipe or popcorn – which is actually salty, fried bread with the tiniest bits of chicken mixed in. The Devil is a deceiver, and I think popcorn chicken is one sly move because he tricks people, including parents with small, innocent children, into buying what is pretty much as close to non-food as I can think of .
But pointing out the obvious is not why I am writing. I simply want to tell you about some of the things that have gone wrong, really wrong, at my town's KFC/A&W so there is a record of some sort.
Any time any member of my family goes into the restaurant, and remember it is Kentucky Fried Chicken along with A&W, the clucking, seemingly confused crew says they are out of something. Now, some of these things are pretty important to running the business. They include:
Ø Cooked chicken
Ø 11 herbs and spices (the chicken was there, but naked.)
Ø Root Beer
Yes, root beer. When they told me that on a day I wanted to get a root beer float for Grandma, I exclaimed, “But you’re A&W! How can you be out of ROOT BEER?”
The girl with the headset on and the beady eyes that didn’t quite look at me straight on didn’t know; but, she said she was sorry, offered me some chicken wings that looked like they came from chickadees -- and handed me a biscuit as hard as a grave stone as her head slowly, with the crack, snap, crackling sound of itty, bitty bones, rotated 360 degrees before my very eyes.
My Dad was so pissed off one day when we went in there and were told it would be 20 to 25 minutes before any chicken was ready, that I told him I would write a letter to the company. When we returned home from Burger King I did, and submitted it to the corporate Web site. Less than an hour later, the latest friendly manager of the local KFC/A&W called to apologize and offered us a generous gift certificate worth something like $26.00, which I drove over and picked up at the drive-through window. I have to wonder how much of the earth’s fossil fuels have been wasted in cars, full of hungry people, idling in the drive-thru lane as they waited for the KFC crew to fry chicken. There really is no fast food at this KFC. In fact, it is possible that the fumes from over-heating vehicles make their way into the restaurant and cause the people who work there move even more slowly. They seem to think slowly too. It does not seem to occur to them to continuously prepare food.
We let some of the summer pass before we went back to the restaurant to redeem our certificate. There was no chicken in the chicken bins at the buffet. The manager had mysteriously disappeared. We left. Again.
These days, when we bravely walk in every once in a while just for the hell of it and if we’re in the mood to ask for a wet rag to clean off a table, we immediately ask, “Are you out of anything?” They are. Every single time. In unison, all of us promptly announce, “We’re out of here,” turn around and walk out. One of us usually tells the next guy in line, “One time they were out of forks.” We don’t wait for a reaction. We just pass on the information and leave. It has become a joke and almost a tradition as we head home to make a big salad.
Sometimes you just get in the mood for KFC and want to try to get some – but we have to walk through that door… and we never know what is waiting beyond it. Popcorn chicken? A priest eating popcorn chicken? The Devil throwing out kegs of root beer and boxes of forks?
It worries me.
A friend suggested we have a picnic on this beautiful day. Being an affable sort of person, I agreed -- and then one of us had the crazy idea of having KFC picnic like we did when we were young. I suggested we try the drive through before going to a park to enjoy our lunch at a picnic table under the trees, where we could smell flowers and watch people play volleyball.
We placed our order at the outside ordering system and waited for our turn to pull up to the pick-up window.
When we got to the window, a darling-looking girl cheerfully leaned out and asked, "What was your order again?"
I kid you not.