Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Three short stories about the place where the clown hates you

So I spent most of today in a training course - it wasn't the most riveting way to spend my time, so I amused myself by trying to crowbar outrageously poor customer service stories and claim them as my own (that time the woman chased the guy out of the furniture store with a bat? That was really at B&E! Hilarious!) and also try and get the film Weekend at Bernies mentioned as many times as possible. I hate the little Q&A bits you have to do at the start of training days, so I try and Ricky Gervais them (they asked Ricky Gervais once who he'd like to be stuck in a lift with and he said his mate Rick, he's got a toolbox). Doesn't always work, but the day did once again comprehensively the difference between Tasmania and Scotland - in Tasmania, there is no personal fact that goes unshared. In Scotland, people would rather die (or live in Beith...that one kills in Ayrshire) than reveal there has ever been anything medically wrong with them, but in Tasmania, it's illness-a-go-go. Our trainer was really building up a head of steam to tell us all about her stint in hospital last year, to the point I thought she was going to go and get the X-rays out, but she was thankfully stopped by the delivery of sandwiches. I sent the rest of the day pottering around town listening to Santogold (oooh, get you, you name dropper) on my IPOD and pondering exactly what it is that the woman guarding the door at JBHIFI actually smells like. I say it's chips, really salty chips, but my friend swears it's a charming combination of perspiration and Aquolina Pink Sugar. I swear if you put her scent on a game show, no one would work it out. I find JBHIFI really interesting because they've got everyone in the door with really cheap prices, and then put them up 600% and people still love the place. I still can't work out why no matter where I stand in that shop, instantly at least three people have to stand immediately behind me and look at exactly the same product. I think I'm becoming influential or something, I've never seen so many people so fascinated by the second series of Weeds...more people gathered behind me to look at that spot of the store than watched it when it was on Channel 9...

Anyway, I was waiting for a lift home, and I was idly reading something about the woman vice president who just reminds me of Karen from Will and Grace, when these two out of towners sort of jogambled up to me, mid LES Artistes, and asked me where the local McDonalds was. I'm a huge believer in local pride, so I was glad to tell them, nay, escort them to...oh who am I kidding, I mumbled in a really weird accent "It'sfruther" and pointed in the direction of the Cat and Fiddle (does that clock still work? Tourists are always in for an 11am treat once the dish runs away with the...no, I won't spoil for you). Thanked for my efforts, I proceeded on my way, but by the time I myself was wandering through Centrepoint, I saw the same couple wandering through, disappointed, and clearly without McDonalds. This sort of annoyed me, as they were discussing that the McDonalds (being a simple stand of burger dispensing, not a fancy pants 1980s decor retro store) wasn't good enough for them - since when has McDonalds needed to be good enough for anyone? Who applies standards to McDonalds? What did you expect, silver service? Monkey butlers? Sure, the one in the Cat and Fiddle is the home of spectularly slack jawed yokels on both sides of the counter who buy their cupcakes with 2c pieces, but give me a break, a pickle is a pickle, and it's not like there's a lot of quality control in the thickshake (although the Wendys that used be in the Cat and Fiddle was way worse, since once the old black haired woman that worked there dropped two of my dollar coins right into the milk and said "No worries, I'll fish em out later!). I wanted to chase them for their out of town cheek. Besides, it was at the Cat and Fiddle McDonalds stand that I heard the single greatest bogan argument I've ever heard. It was two guys who had just come from that games place, one of them had a "Free Hugs" T-shirt on and the other one had glasses the size of a small radiator and were going to get a coke, when they nearly started punching lumps out of each other. One of them was saying "NerfuckingNoiseworks" and one of them was shouting "NERFUCKINGANGRYANDERSON!" - they ended up sort of rolling around on the ground, arguing about how was better, Noiseworks, the singers of Hot Chilli Woman, or Angry Anderson, the singer of Suddenly, until a blue shirted and bewildered security guard half arsedly broke up the fight with the maximum of apathy and the minimum of smackdown. I guess he preferred the Coral Snakes...

Thinking about McDonalds though always takes me back to Manchester - ah, Manchester, the lukewarm hotdogs, the obsession with naming dishes on menus after Smiths songs, the authentic Australian pubs packed with New Zealanders, the beautiful but incredibly arrogant girls who serve you scrambled eggs - and 2005. Ah, I didn't have no Internet...no, that was 1989. I was staying at this fancy hotel, and when I would go into the lobby, Australian cricket coach John Buchanan was always there, sitting entirely on his own reading Time Magazine (I later told people it was Penthouse). I couldn't sleep though this one night because I had a cramp in my leg, and I went for a no doubt incredibly dodgy stroll around late night Manchester, before stumbling on a McDonalds. As I got inside, through the plexi-glass doors that took about ten minutes to open, with inevitably The Smiths blaring into the night air through a crackling messed up PA system, a man had just purchased 12 large cokes, and had them sitting on a plastic tray. He then took one of the large cokes, took a tiny sip out of it, and absolutely pegged it at the poor little Chinese guy who had sold it to him. He took a full baseball pitch swing to get the maximum power behind it, and it thudded off the specials menu with a satisfying splat. To the sound of "How Soon Is Now" (sadly not the TATU cover) he proceeded quite unencumbered to throw the remaining 11 Cokes to various parts of the restaurant. Some at the Somalian cleaner, some at the door (hey, watch it buddy, I'm wearing a Superdry original!) and some of course at our small Chinese friend. After the twelth coke (I so wish it wasn't in June, I had the twelth coke of Christmas line ready to go) was successfully pegged, he simply turned on his heels and walked out into the freezing Manchester air, leaving just me, a surprisingly attractive single Mum, and the collection of minimum wage immigrant staff to look at the battlefield he had left behind as if we were watching the end of Platoon. At which point the Somalian mop wielder has pushed past me, nudged me in the ribs and gone "Guess he wasn't a Smiths fan" - and, to be honest, it's still the best example of Somali humour I've heard...

Of course, none of this compares to the day McDonalds opened in Burnie. I might have loved this record and not been able to see straight anymore, but even when I couldn't shut my Playboy mouth, I always knew that McDonalds in Burnie would provide me somewhere to go and eat and drunkenly muck about on the slide when I was at my alcohol afflicted worst. By the time I left Burnie, we all took McDonalds for granted. However, when it opened, every single day the school bus would go from Penguin to Burnie, we would pass the building site on which, er, McDonalds was being built (good work genius, what did you think happens on a building site?). There was this girl on the bus, and I made her cry one day because she said I was ugly and would never get a pash (in hindsight I think this was her way of flirting but...) but she looked like an apprentice witch with a little sharp twinkly nose, and I pointed this out to her, and I'm not responsible for the tears that followed in my book. We had got past that though by the time McDonalds was being built, and as the bus chugged past it with it's immaculate Kergers Coaches paint job shimmering in the sun, she stared out the window and audibly gasped at the magnificent arches and said "Wow...what do you think they sell in there!" - well, burgers for one I thought, but because I came from a town in Scotland that already had a McDonalds (OK, it had a Wimpey, and you don't need to the full explanation of that, just imagine what a British McDonalds would be like though) I was instantly the expert who was meant to tell these awe struck kids what it was like. All I wanted to do was suck my Push Pop (matron) but when it's time to step up, it's time to step up. "Well," I said, putting the phallic strawberry sweet to one side, "you might have heard of the Big Mac, but in my book, the crispy fried salmon in tartare sauce with the side order of croutons and the coq au vin is where it's really at" - OK, so a lazy comment poking fun at the McDonalds menu is probably not the best joke in the world, and it wouldn't make sense in 2008, since McDonalds is now all fancy pants and you could probably get McSalmon, but I was quite amused with myself for upping expectations, the little cultural jammer that I was, especially considering twinklenose believed me. About three weeks later, Elizabeth Montgomery comes up to me and she's pretty pissed off. "You lied to me!" she said, tapping her Clarks shoes on the puddle on the ground, sending little hissy fit jets of water up into the air. "It wasn't salmon they served at McDonalds! It was trout!" - I still don't know if this was a joke, or my own joke was actually quite precient, or if she was trying out some surrealist material, but it's probably the only time in my life I've ever been accused of a fish based inaccuracy...

Still, the green thickshakes they make on St Patricks day are fantastic...

6 comments:

squib said...

I think that playing the Smiths in McDonalds is somehow a bit blasphemous

Kath Lockett said...

Ah yes, Murray Bridge didn't get a McDonald's until 1994, but which time I was long gone and still getting over the 'Christmas Lunch' I had in one of their establishments whilst holidaying (and running, BennyHill like, from groping men) in Cairo. True story

Miles McClagan said...

Well I'd have said that once upon a time, but once they licenced How Soon Is Now to be the theme song to Charmed, I reckon all bets were off (you didn't see The Fall doing that did you?).

Ah, Benny Hill - died on his own on his couch watching Teletext. Sad. That's just terrible though, I've never been groped in a McDonalds...maybe a Burger King...

grocerystoredates said...

Jbhifi is the prime motivator behind my hating couples. Nine times out of ten, i walk in, head to the section i’m after, and my quick-stop-in-before-i-miss-the-train ends up taking a good twenty minutes because i can’t tell those making-out in front of (i’d name drop a hip artist but you know i’m not very hip) weeds series 2 / 1, to “be in love / obnoxious elsewhere, i’m trying to get my hands on weeds series 2 / 1 and you’re sort of not respecting that.”
!#&*! (ps. I really need weeds back in my life because I have yet to witness an Olsen twin)

squib said...

I was taken on a date to Burger King once. I wasn't very impressed, esp. as I was a vegetarian at the time

Miles McClagan said...

No one really seems to make out or pash in Hobart JBHIFI, there is an interesting aroma to the woman on the door, but I'm going to test if it's just a thing that happens at JB, I'm going to stand in front of the Ricki Lee CDs (come on, who's interested in those?) and if three people shove me out of the way, I'll know it's me...

I've never taken anyone on a date to Burger King...I wouldn't imagine it would lead to a 2nd date (at Maccas).