Chick-Fil-A: Whose Pleasure?


gabriel conroy

Gabriel Conroy [pseudonym] is an ex-graduate student. He is happily married with no children and has about a million nieces and nephews. The views expressed by Gabriel are his alone and do not necessarily reflect those of his spouse or employer.

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69 Responses

  1. I have to go off to work, but I’ll try to read and respond to any comments today or tomorrow.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Say what you will about Carl’s Jr, but I have *NEVER* felt like the management there tells their workers that they want customers to feel welcome and that the interaction ought to be a pleasant one.Report

  3. Avatar JoeSal says:

    sifting through their website I found this:

    Not sure how true it is, but it appears they are attempting independent owner/operator model. Maybe not to the standards I usually discuss owner/operation, but it appears the folks on location have some skin on the line.

    They also mention customer service is a critical value. I don’t know how they approach the stick. If the manager just instills the awareness that: “customer service is of high value and if you are not capable of providing that value transaction with customers, even in difficult circumstances, this probably isn’t the right job for you”.

    At that point the workers have to be given agency, as the alternative to not giving the worker agency is to suggest that we Should have people in niches that aren’t compatible with those niches*.

    When I worked customer service the interactions were typically best if I would first acknowledge the outcome the customer was looking for and efficiently reached something closely approximating that. Of course the transactions required that the customer be made aware that the service is a value exchange, and there is a expected input of value on their part.

    If there were no employees and every transaction were between the actual owner/operator all transactions would be purely value for value exchanges, and there would be no labor disputes over surplus value in operations.

    *there is a premise here that the available number of niches has been reduced by government interferenceReport

    • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to JoeSal says:

      Its more interesting than that… its purely an “operator” model in that you never own the franchise… BUT, it only costs $10k to become an Operator. CFA bears *all* the start-up costs. However, you own nothing.

      It seems they get about 20k qualified applicants a year, but only open 80 restaurants… CFA choses the site and everything… if you are selected to be an operator, you are given a site.

      Operators make about $100k/yr, based on what seems to be salary plus profit (which works to be an incentive plan for good management).

      So, it’s a *terrible* investment opportunity compared to any other franchise… however, its probably a *fantastic* opportunity to make $100k/yr if you’re competent, motivated and under-employed. It also means that the operators are linked 1:1 with the store they operate… hands-on and highly motivated – probably a life-changing oppty for whomever decided to take the plunge.

      I’m a little bit down on the absence of equity earning, as the efforts of the Operators are quintessentially the value of the corporation… so actual sweat equity (aka Fractional Distributism) here should be a no-brainer… that they don’t do that seems a pretty strong defect (IMO).Report

      • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Marchmaine says:

        Holy horse knockers, I’m always a little suspicious when corporations start mentioning owner/operation, but this is nuts.

        Thanks for the info.Report

        • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to JoeSal says:

          Upon further reflection, I’d have to learn more about the deal that is struck between Operators and CFA esp with regards the $10 “investment” the “CFA University” training and their “investiture” with a site. That is, I was reading it as a kinda lifelong non-ownership grant… but more realistically it might just be a contingent General Manager Position subject to regular turn-over/replacement. In which case… still a good motivational tool, but probably another sad turn in employee/employer systems. But that’s if I make all the usual assumptions I’d make about corporate structures… maybe I’d be surprised.Report

    • Avatar gabriel conroy in reply to JoeSal says:


      Perhaps I was being overly cynical. I’m very suspicious that the situation you describe in the second paragraph isn’t the whole story, but maybe it very well is a good part of the story. And of course, I’m ignorant of their management model.

      For this:

      “When I worked customer service the interactions were typically best if I would first acknowledge the outcome the customer was looking for and efficiently reached something closely approximating that.”

      That’s mostly true of my own experience in customer service roles. With some exceptions, it really, really helps to approach the job trying to do it well rather than looking at it through the zero sum lens that I do (partially) in my OP>

      At any rate, thanks for writing!Report

      • Avatar JoeSal in reply to gabriel conroy says:

        I don’t think your being cynical at all. I do think that with a limited number of niches per location there does arise the issue you are describing about a stick/coercion mechanism.

        It is common to look at management or the greater structure of corporation and say that the fault rests solely there. The problem is that this isn’t the whole story either. If the niches were infinitely available, and people had agency and could enter and exist position with the highest degree of freedoms in value exchange then the corporations and management would have to compete with offering good working condition to attract workers.

        There is one particular parameter to wages that I have discussed before that narrows the available niches, and the available resources to provide the widest array of niches. It also raises the threshold of what is expected of each employee as the minimum allowable toleration of value exchange. So in effect a regulation creates a need for coercion to meet a threshold.

        This is related issue, which maybe a facet at what you are attempting to describe, but I don’t see it referenced directly. The popular teachings for awhile made reference to surplus value, and usually the frame work for surplus value is that the owners collect that value and the more coercive they can be the more value they can extract. A different way I have been thinking about this lately is in the frame work of ‘the unearned’. With fewer niches available the workers may be limited in their ability to collect the full value of what they do earn, and the employer may be reaping unearned value from the conditions of a market of narrowed job opportunities.

        That may be bogged in word semantics but it does have some ramifications, in that equitable value exchanges are preferred, but unearned value collection has many ramifications involved.

        Sometimes I think a fair amount of spurn is directed at entities that do collect unearned value, but there probably should be as much directed at the conditions which lead to the entity having the position to collect that unearned value.

        Let me give an example and maybe an exception.

        If a worker negotiates with a exceptionally difficult customer and put effort X into reaching a positive outcome, then the worker would get paid in accordance to the effort involved in X.

        I think the way we are thinking about this is that actually the worker puts in effort X, but gets paid (X-Y) and that Y is the unearned value that is collected by the corporation. With fewer niches and barriers/friction to enter and exit positions a worker may choose (X-Y) as a acceptable condition, absent other opportunities. It may be true that the (X-Y) is a issue, but just as much at issue is the absence of other opportunities.

        One of the big problem I have with social constructs built around capitalism is that these social constructs tilt the field to have conditions that evolve into (X-Y) outcomes, where Y is forever increased and collected by/in favor of social constructs. And maybe I am using the term social constructs poorly here, maybe something like social groupings or factions maybe a better term, but it does derive by a group of people getting together and building a social construction, whether that is government or corporation. Either one will typically start into the process of collecting unearned value.

        In the example above of effort X put into the exchange, what happens when this is plugged into a model where the owner and the operator are the same person with no other social constructs involved?

        If we are discussing equitable exchanges, then there is a direct X for X exchange. There is no unearned Y going to some other construct. This resolves the problems in both the surplus value model, and the collection of unearned value model.

        The problem I keep running into, is that many people have a substantial subjective value for the existence of entities involved in Y, and that Y is limiting the ‘other opportunities’ parameter as discussed above.Report

        • Avatar gabriel conroy in reply to JoeSal says:

          Apologies if I’m not fully grokking your point, but what you describe strikes me more as the problem of having to live in a world of scarcity, or limited resources with unlimited wants and needs. Certain approaches, such as social constructs (if I understand your use of the term), work in some ways and don’t in others.

          Again, it’s possible I’m not understanding your point fully.Report

          • Avatar JoeSal in reply to gabriel conroy says:

            Let me attempt to come at it from a different angle.

            Where is the coercion coming from?

            Above you write that the power resides in the ability to fire an employee. This requires the social construct of employer/employee. All I am saying is that the social construct has to exist for this to happen. This doesn’t happen in owner/operator models, as the employer and the employee are the same person.

            I guess someone could be guilty of self coercing, but that would be a different situation.

            My point is, to model harm in this manner begins at a social construct. (if harm is incorrectly used here we can maybe find a better term)Report

            • Avatar gabriel conroy in reply to JoeSal says:

              Thanks for clarifying, JoeSal. I think I’d say the social construct of employer-employee arises in the background of scarcity, in that not everyone can be an owner operator, both in the sense that not everyone has the skills/aptitude to be owner/operator and in the sense that there aren’t enough resources and that given a robust enough economy people need to adopt measures of scale, which means some people have to work for others.

              However, as I write this, I sound (to myself) like a doctrinaire Marxist (who hasn’t read Marx, but that doesn’t stop a lot of people). And maybe my own explanation is too materialistic.

              I ado agree with you, though, that the “coercion” I talk about exists only because of the prior employer-employee relationship, or “social construct,” as I understand it. (Unless I’m further misinterpreting your argument? If so, my (renewed) apologies!)Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to gabriel conroy says:

                I wouldn’t say you were Marxist to any degree, it’s just that discussions of labor have been path dependent in that area for at least 60 years. The desired result I would expect is to pull labor into some form of social construct.

                I would say the construct of employer-employee didn’t arise in the background of scarcity, but during the rise of the social constructs of production.

                The reason I say this, is before manufacturing plants and the rise of corporation type constructs, there were mostly cottage industries. These were developing to produce in varying scale and complexity. (mostly referring to the american model, and not the english model)

                Production was distributed.

                To create value to exchange, you are producing a product or service for others. So whether your in a employee-employer construct or in a owner operator construct, in both, you are working/adding value for a other. Parameters such as quantity of resources, robust economy, measures of scale aren’t wholly affected as long as equivalent products and services are created by both models within the same efficiencies.

                One thing that does change is relationships. Even in the employer/employee relationship we have seen that the movement to respect the individual sovereignty of the worker has led to less coercion. The authority to enter or exit a position being a significant one. The authority to not be forced by physical violence is another.

                The moral principles are evolving out of the idea that conduct should be moral. The subjective value of individual sovereignty is bending even the most coercive social constructs to eventually adopt moral principles.

                What we see though is constant backsliding. Social constructs have little motivation in conserving individual sovereignty and maybe to a higher degree looking for subjugation to the social construct. The relationship between social constructs and individual sovereignty is likely to begin in opposition.

                (The issue with Marx is that the social construct of worker-government will have a similar set of problems without the adoption of any recognition of individual sovereignty. In effect there is no individual authority to enter or leave a position, and the government can and does deploy physical violence.)

                I do not dispute that production has evolved on the corporation scale. That most equipment and production environments evolved to the scale of the facilities involved.

                With that said, I would offer that just because production evolved this way, doesn’t mean there was ever and only one path for the evolution to have taken. In fact I would say that it was a massive error in the history of man that it did evolve this way.

                I think as the future unfold we will see production take on a more human scale, and this will not be by accident.

                (I apologize for the lengths of these comments, and don’t at all expect a lengthy or detailed response, I just needed some length in order to explain some of the ideas)Report

              • Avatar gabriel conroy in reply to JoeSal says:

                Thanks for explaining your ideas, nonetheless. I appreciate your taking the time to do so.Report

  4. Avatar Pinky says:

    Venting at customers on a bad day isn’t dignified. Even venting at customers who are jerks isn’t dignified. Treating people well is a decent thing, and it engenders dignity. I don’t understand how you could argue otherwise.

    And the argument seems to be baseless. There must be coercion, because all employer/employee relationships are coercive. Therefore Chick-Fil-A is wrong for being coercive. There isn’t any evidence put forward.Report

    • Avatar gabriel conroy in reply to Pinky says:

      If I disagree with your first paragraph, it’s in the sense that what’s dignified is relative to the situation. Sometimes resisting or pushing back (which doesn’t have to mean venting: it can mean something like, working to rule) is the more dignified option. In general, though, I agree that someone who chooses to do that is acting in a manner that’s undignified on a absolute scale.

      For your second paragraph: I agree I offer no evidence and I’m inferring from general premises. But I think my inferences are both valid and sound. My argument isn’t only that coercion happens, though. It’s also that those of us who enjoy the good customer service should realize that there’s something not entirely nice behind it. I call it coercion.

      And further, while this OP is in one sense about Chick-fil-a, in another sense it’s not. It’s about any of our interactions with customer service workers at any establishment. Maybe, as a few people discussed above, the Chick-fil-a business model has the potential to differ so radically from the others that maybe my claim about coercion is wildly overwrought. Even so, we still encounter the type of situation I describe in almost every other establishment.Report

  5. fillyjonk fillyjonk says:

    I will note that being rude/cruel/yelling at the person working behind a counter or stocking shelves or waiting tables is a really, really ugly flex and one of the relatively-few hardline dealbreakers I would have if I were out on a date with someone.

    And it makes me feel really bad now to wonder if when I go somewhere to shop (like my small regional-chain grocery) and the people are actually friendly and nice to me instead of sullen, it might be because they’ve been browbeaten into it 🙁Report

    • It’s possible (as at least one commenter seems to believe, if I interpret their view right) that I’m overreading the element of coercion here.

      My guess is that in most cases, the friendly customer service rep is actually all three of sincerely friendly, professional, and acting under what I call “coercion” (but maybe there’s a better word for it).Report

  6. Avatar JoeSal says:

    Is there some technical issue, my comment appears to have disappeared?Report

  7. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    At least locally, yes, they pay better than most of the other fast food places.

    The other fast-service place here where I’ve found the staff to be more uniformly cheerful and helpful is Papa Murphy’s Take-n-Bake pizza. While there are several possibilities for why, I suspect that one of them is that “everybody does every job.” Everyone greets customers and takes orders. Everyone builds pizzas. No grumpy people that totally lack people skills hiding in the back. Watching them, they must go through a staggering number of plastic gloves in a day.Report

    • I wish they had Papa Murphy’s in Big City. They have them in the suburbs, but they’re too far away from where we live.

      I do think “everybody does every job” can help with customer service. I’ve had one job where I was instructed to not help customers because I was being paid for something else.* If I had followed that rule strictly, it would have meant simply ignoring customers who wonder in and might need someone to help them. I usually didn’t follow that rule strictly, and therefore sometimes ended up helping them.

      *That sounds strange, but wouldn’t sound as strange if I were more forthcoming about the job and what my job was there.Report

  8. Avatar PD Shaw says:

    Just now, I went to Chick-fil-A because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I looked into the eyes of the workers and found no traces of hidden terrors, but an unfeigned interest in one’s fellow man. I do not wish to live naive; I turn and look closer at the interactions of the man who could be manager, but am interrupted by a slight touch on my shoulder. I’m asked if this is the line, and I show him his way. The customers are polite, the man who could be manager says “please.” No platitudinous posters set designs on the human spirit.

    As I leave, I realize that all have come to this place deliberately, armed with patience and courtesy for the lines linger on and on. Even I had played some small part. But my last impression was of an outdoor greeter at the drive-through. Between cars she turns away and looks at the blue sky and smiles brightly to herself, unseen by anyone but me; it was her moment she had taken for herself, before returning to work.Report

  9. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    well this is certainly a “take”, as the kids on the internet say these days

    i’m pretty sure that nobody at Chick-Fil-A ever got fired for being just “kinda happy” rather than bouncingly hyperenthusiastic about your microwaved chicken sandwichReport

    • As Pinky pointed out above, I don’t have evidence. But for what it’s worth, I doubt, too, if anyone has been fired for being only “kinda happy” (or in my words, “only very polite instead of saccharine sweet polite”). There are other ways to act coercively toward employees. And there’s an implied threat of firing behind every management directive. No one (probably) was ever fired for just that reason. Maybe, though, after a few weeks, that reason, along with others, convinces management that the person in question isn’t right for the job and has to be let go.

      Maybe that’s overly reductionist on my part. I realize a business has to stay in business if employees want to work there. And if employees can’t or won’t do the job as required, then the business not only has the right but the obligation (if it wants to stay in business) to set guidelines for its employees and to discipline them when they don’t measure up.

      And in my OP, I”m almost completely neglecting (even though I mention) the positive-sum part of such jobs. It’s quite possible that the positive very much outweighs the negative, both in general and (perhaps) especially in the case of Chick-fil-a.Report

      • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to gabriel conroy says:

        For what it is worth, the Glassdoor reviews of working at Chick-fil-A are surprisingly positive. On the other hand, I suspect that there is a strong element of self-selection in who works there. I am given to understand, for example, that they have a ban on employees having “unnaturally” colored hair dyes.Report

        • I am given to understand, for example, that they have a ban on employees having “unnaturally” colored hair dyes.

          Tokyo Joe’s, a Denver-based fast-service Asian-style bowls chain (starting to appear elsewhere in the Southwest) takes the opposite tack. It is the rare person working the counter there who does not have at least one of “unnatural” hair color, tattoos, or piercings. It is rumored that at one time their employment recruiting included the phrase, “The few. The proud. The pierced.”

          My experience has been that the service is fast, friendly, and competent. The last time I was there the woman who took my order had one of the most gorgeous tattoo sleeves I’ve ever seen. I apologized for staring. Since it was the middle of the afternoon and there was no one in line but me, she took a couple of minutes and pointed out her favorite parts of it.Report

        • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

          “I suspect that there is a strong element of self-selection in who works there”

          This is one of the things I was implying in my “Walden” comment. But I might have emphasized that the Chick-fil-A near me is one of the most popular fast food places in the city, with long lines at least for a 3-hour lunch period. If you apply, you have to know that the work-pace is different than most other restaurants, but the means to an end is a consistent bit of pleasantries. I also think that the “Sundays off” is an undervalued piece of compensation to outsiders, because some of the unpleasantness of retail is not having the days off that other people have for social activities.Report

          • Avatar gabriel conroy in reply to PD Shaw says:

            You have a point about Sundays off. One thing I hated about fast food was that I could theoretically be called in on any of my off days, and I did a poor job at saying no when it happened. (I learned, but it took a while.) It can be nice to have a day when you know you won’t be called in.Report

  10. Avatar Kazzy says:

    There are definitely times I consider “customer service” when deciding on a business to patronize. Fast food is never one of them. If the people are extra friendly, that’s not a bad thing… but if I’m able to pay in car change for a bag full of deep fried calories, I just kind of figure I get what I get. I’ve been to Chil-fil-A a handful of times (almost always at the mall food court) because the girlfriend loves it (I think it’s good-not-special) and never noticed the service one way or another.Report

    • Avatar gabriel conroy in reply to Kazzy says:

      Customer service is probably low on my list of things I choose for fast food, but it still plays a role (at least for me) in two ways. The first is the obvious. Good customer service is one thing that tilts my marginal choice to x restaurant over y restaurant. As a priority, it’s very low. But I admit it’s there.

      The second is more of a second-order relationship. A restaurant that runs efficiently–that is more likely to serve me quickly and with minimal errors–probably runs efficiently in part because of its good customer service.Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Kazzy says:

      Customer service is really important, but this is in the sense of getting my order right. Performative cheerfulness? Not important.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

        I’d probably consider that part of the “product”. If I order a cheeseburger and get a chicken sandwich, I got a bad product. But I can see how they’re related.

        There are bars or restaurants I will or won’t goto based on service. In such situations, I’m likely to have multiple and/or extended interactions with employees and as an incredibly extroverted person, that can make or break an experience.

        But for a sack of burgers? Just get me the sack. Even after spending an inordinate time in the drive thru at a McDs, I’ll still go back to McDs, including that particular one. If it was a pattern, I’d avoid it if time was a factor (in the same way I’d avoid a sitdown restaurant or one with a long line).Report

      • While it’s not necessarily my main argument, I probably share your aversion to “performative cheefulness” almost as a matter of principle. To some extent that’s just a matter of personal preference. But it’s also (to me) a matter of “what kind of place would make their employees do that?”

        Slightly off topic but slightly not: I remember visiting Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs in the mid 1990s and we took a tour of the facilities.* At the end of the tour, they should us the onsite ice cream shop (or soda fountain shop….I forget exactly). Even though at that time I still told myself I professed evangelicalism, I remember thinking how awful it would be to have to work there and pretend to be so happy and content while serving a bunch of self-righteous customers.

        *If they still do it and you have a chance–and if you can stomach the messaging–you should do it. It’s quite fascinating from the point of view of seeing how a big organization works.Report

  11. Avatar Frank Benlin says:

    {Previously banned commenter.}-


    • It’s the SYSTEM, man! The SYSTEM’S all screwed up, and I need to call it out, man! The SYSTEM!Report

    • To be less snarky, I posted it because I believe customer service work is paradoxically underappreciated and yet also expected to be perfect. I have a visceral aversion for the treatment that customer service workers typically receive both from management and from the served.

      Those may not be sufficient reasons to post this OP. They may not even count as an argument (and my comment below concedes that maybe I need to reconsider my argument.)

      I also admit that in some way, I take the issue very personally. To be clear, I don’t mean I take your own comment personally (I don’t), but I mean that I’ve lived through it enough to feel like the treatment that CSR’s (customer service reps) receive is treatment to me. To be further clear(er): I understand that I no longer truly understand what it’s like. My current position is mostly not CSR-focused and my circumstances are far from marginal (and they were much better than marginal even at the time when I depended on such jobs). In part, the “visceral aversion” is maybe an overreaction, maybe partly an affectation and partly an identity thing. It’s not insincere as maybe a little overdramatic?

      Those are, roughly, some of the reasons I felt the need to post the OP.Report

  12. After reading others’ comments above and after considering my responses (and my original OP), I fear that I’m either motte-and-baileying the issue, or bait-and-switching, or else doing something shady. I’d like to say that my argument is that all jobs involve an element of coercion, that customer service jobs are part of the universe of all jobs, and that when we’re served in those jobs, we should remember that coercion plays a role in the interaction.

    Perhaps it’s disingenuous of me to say that’s *really* my argument because maybe I really wasn’t thinking that when I wrote the OP. I used Chick-fil-a as an example, but as Pinky pointed out, I don’t have any evidence other than general premises that I infer to apply to Chick-fil-a. And the discussion above about the restaurant’s business model–while it doesn’t necessarily disprove my argument–underscores the fact that some firms handle their employees better than others. While I technically acknowledged the point in the OP, I won’t blame anyone for putting it front and center.

    I’d like to thank you all for reading. And while I probably disagree with some of you, your comments remind me that my way of looking at the issue isn’t the only way.Report

    • I appreciate this comment greatly.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to gabriel conroy says:

      My original comment compared fast food counterservice work to sex work and made distinctions between the types of workers that Eliot Spitzer frequented and the types of workers that have a target audience with much smaller budgets. From there, it started discussing how Chik-fil-A was the Emperors Club VIP of fast food and then I asked “what in the hell am I doing?”

      That said, I did find that your very specific criticisms of Chik-fil-A were criticisms that applied to pretty much every fast food place. Hell, if you want to get college sophomore on it, they’re criticisms that apply to capitalism.

      So using these criticisms to complain about the one restaurant that actually seems pleasant struck me as…

      Well, if I were a reformer sweeping in on horseback and making fast food great again, I wouldn’t start at Chik-fil-A. If anything, I’m struggling to think of a fast food place that would be after CFA on the list.Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

        On a tangent from your good sense not to compare the two… I was wondering if Gabriel was going after the new trend I first noticed in Luxury Services of always saying: “My Pleasure”

        It was obsequious and slightly off-putting in Luxury situations… but vaguely defensible in terms of the mission statement of the Luxury offering – which is mostly extraneous pleasure.

        I do find it odd, however, that this term, “My Pleasure,” has been inserted into the most venial of transactional services… like providing extra packets of Ketchup. There’s no pleasure involved in any part of that intercourse.

        I’m not sure what exact phrases are mandated at CFA, and to the extent that CFA is requesting (dare I say) Jordan Peterson type rules of eye contact and momentary but actual engagement, I can’t find much fault… rather the weird stylings of Luxury services forced into ordinary services – well, that strikes me as a target worth poking.Report

        • For what it’s worth, the Chck-fil-a employees I’ve encountered almost always tend to say “my pleasure,” which suggests to me that it’s company policy to say that.

          I hadn’t realized your point about luxury services, though.Report

        • fillyjonk fillyjonk in reply to Marchmaine says:

          Hm. If I, as a college prof, were encouraged/coerced to say “My pleasure” every time I let a student hand a paper in late, or walked ALLLL the way down to the computer lab to open it up (because the person who’s job it actually is forgot to), or went and got staples because the classroom stapler was out….well, I’d have no teeth left from grinding them so hard.

          (I know people regard higher ed as a luxury good)

          I wonder if part of the issue in some jobs is that there’s a lot of EXTRA work over and above the work you got hired for….like, you’re not just taking orders and handing people bags of chicken sandwiches, you’re also dealing with That Jerk who is going to try to goad you in the hopes of getting free crap, or the person who stands there for 10 minutes after they get to the head of the line and can’t make up their mind (even though the signboard’s been in their face for the previous ten minutes), or the mom with a kid who is throwing a tantrum on the floor….

          I will say “you’re welcome” or sometimes even “no problem*” when I open up the computer lab, but telling someone it was my pleasure to get up from the work I was doing to do someone else’s job would be a dirty lie.

          (*I know some people hate “no problem” instead of “you’re welcome” but I am not one of those)Report

      • Avatar gabriel conroy in reply to Jaybird says:

        I’m not 100% sure I understand this comment, Jaybird, so apologies if my response is off. (I assume by your “original comment” you meant “comment you intended to write but thought better of,” which I assume is what happened, because I don’t see that comment in this thread.) So here’s a point I’ll quibble with even if we’re not necessarily quibbling (because you might have actually been writing about a comment that you didn’t post):

        “So using these criticisms to complain about the one restaurant that actually seems pleasant struck me as…

        Well, if I were a reformer sweeping in on horseback and making fast food great again, I wouldn’t start at Chik-fil-A. If anything, I’m struggling to think of a fast food place that would be after CFA on the list”

        I do think one tactic a reformer might use is to say, “even the best place is bad by x, y, z standards.” Kind of like how Michael Moore in Sicko starts off telling us about the numbers of uninsured but then says, “this film is actually about the people WITH insurance.” I’m not saying that “criticize the best” is necessarily an effective tactic,* but there’s a logic to it.

        In a sense, that may be what I was trying to do in the OP, except that I wasn’t particularly concerned about the customer. It’s logically possible that Chick-fil-a isn’t very, very bad on so many levels for the employee and yet the customer service smells like roses. (And again, as many here have said, CFA seems to at least pay well and maybe does other things to build team spirit in a positive way. I’m speaking only of logical possibilities.)

        *And please don’t take that as an endorsement of Michael Moore in general or Sicko in particular. His “tell half truths and bait people into looking like fools” strategy doesn’t endear me to him.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to gabriel conroy says:

          Yeah, I wrote half of it and then highlighted it all and then pressed delete.

          Well, my position is more this: if the criticism you are applying to the particular thing (Chik-fil-A job) happens to a be a criticism that applies to every single fast food job, then criticizing Chik-fil-A instead of criticizing fast food jobs in general is to target the wrong thing.

          Let’s say that Popeye’s sandwiches come back tomorrow and, somehow, they can keep up with the demand… and that’s enough to put Chik-fil-A in the ground. If this happens, will your criticism apply equally to Popeye’s (if not apply *MORE* to Popeye’s)?

          If so, the problem ain’t Chik-fil-A.Report

          • Avatar gabriel conroy in reply to Jaybird says:

            I agree with your last two paragraphs (and probably the first two, too, but this comment is directed to the last two).

            I’m not suggesting that CFA is in itself the problem. In part what I’m suggesting is that CFA is in the same ballpark as the other places we (or most of us) more easily concede are the problem. No offense against Popeye’s, whose chicken I love, but its employees don’t have the type of reputation as those of CFA. I go there so rarely, though (because it’s so far from where I live, though one just opened up a mile away) that I don’t have a knee jerk sense of how good the customer service is. My (too few) experiences there, though, tell me it’s pretty good.Report