Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Salt Teens

“Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce.
Special orders don’t upset us.
All we ask is that you let us
Serve it your way!”

So went the Burger King jingle of the Seventies. Burger King held to its promise. You could ask them to leave off any item, and they would.

In the pre-Burger King days, I remember how we would stop at McDonald’s and my mother would let us have French fries. The fries came unadorned, but inside the bag, you had your choice of salt and pepper.

And of course, all the fast food franchises did the same thing: they’d place packages of salt and pepper in the bag. But then something happened.

Whether it was a corporate bean counter missive or a government fast-food regulation, they stopped giving you the salt and pepper in the bag. Instead, the fries came pre-salted.

Now if you have kids and ever watched them try to prepare something to eat, their measurement skills don’t exactly measure up. They’re still trying to get the hang of it. They’ll dump a whole canister of sugar into the mixing bowl. Or they’ll use six eggs to make an omelette (two of which inevitably end up in a mess on the floor).

The teen workers had a tendency to shake half their salt shakers onto the entire batch of French fries. If you’ll excuse the expression, they were a little too “liberal” with the salt shaker.

Well, they’re young. It’s like trying to teach them to drive; they’re going to hit some curbs before they can distinguish between the road and the sidewalk.

I’m one of those people who can barely tolerate salt. I’d eat one of these holsters of salt fries and within an hour, came down with a migraine headahce. My boss wasn’t particularly sympathetic, either (to speak truth, she wasn’t much older than those teen burger flippers and less mature).

After awhile, I learned to specifically order the fries without salt. The franchises always complied, with no fuss, bless their hearts. Now and then, I’d feel guilty for having to ask them to accommodate my request and I’d explain why, just so they knew I wasn’t trying to be difficult.

The Burger King down the road from where I live has been especially gracious. And I’ve tried not to be a nuisance. When they ask me to pull up and wait, because they have to cook up a separate order of fries, I pull up.

Once, early on, I tried to tip the young person who came out in the freezing cold to give me my fries, but he said it was against the company rules for him to accept it. So things have gone on.

But then New York City banned salt completely from all its restaurants. Anyone who likes their salt is just out of luck because of a health-conscious few who not only want to watch their diets, but everyone else’s.

This law hasn’t come to pass in the state in which I live. Yet. But now when I ask the order taker to not put salt on my fries, I detect a distinct testiness in their voice, a readiness for battle.

Thank you, Uncle Sam, Nanny Pelosi, and all your bureaucratic ilk.

Things were going very nicely. I didn’t want salt on my fries, but I tried to be as uncomplaining as possible about it. The fast-food place, in their turn, was very pleasant and very accommodating.

They let me have it my way, without interfering with everyone else's – the majority of people – right to have it their way. I was able to take care of myself, thank you very much. I didn’t need the government’s help to order a salt-free meal.

Now the whole world is going to have to be turned upside down to accommodate me. Isn’t that just special? Don’t I feel like I’m  on top of the world? Everyone who wanted salt on their fries will now be forced to smuggle salt packets into restaurants with them.

If they’re out on the road and buy some fast food, they’re going to be stuck with bland French fries that taste terrible to them, for which they paid their hard-earned money. They’ll have to keep salt packets in their glove compartments to deal with it.

All because of someone like me. And someone not like me is going to protest, make a scene, cry foul, even sue, if they get salted fries, as a demonstration of their new-found power, their enablement to have it all their way. A way they once had for nothing.

All they had to do was be nice.

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