Tag Archives: waiting in line

Don’t be the person that orders fries with no salt

I come across the same tip every once in a while on the Internet: If you go to McDonald’s, ask for your fries with no salt. That way, they have to make a fresh batch, guaranteeing that your fries won’t be sitting around under the heat lamp, that each French fry you put in your mouth will be as made-to-order as possible.


But what about the seasoning? Won’t plain French fries taste a little bland? Easy, the hint goes on, once you get your super-fresh French fries, you just add your own salt. Bam, you just hacked McDonald’s, you cracked the fast-food code.

Every time I read this advice, because it always pops up, people think they’re being so smart, beating the system, I always get pissed off. Because you’re not beating the system. You’re throwing a wrench in it. And nobody’s benefiting, not even you.

Let’s talk about you. “No salt on those fries.” You know what you just did? You just added like five minutes to your wait time, not to mention all of the people behind you in line, watching you as you stand to the side of the register, they’re not ordering, even though you already ordered. Because you’re not moving. You’re just standing there. Everybody’s getting annoyed, nobody knows what’s going on. They don’t understand that you’re waiting for some ridiculous side-item special request.

Then you get your fries. “Whatever,” you’re saying, “I don’t care about the extra wait time, because it’s all worth it, fresh, hot fries.” And yes, everybody agrees that hot fries are better, right out of the deep fryer, they’re perfectly crisp on the outside with that almost creamy potato interior.

But you’re not getting that maximum fry experience, because they didn’t add salt. You think you’re somehow gaming the system by just sprinkling it on at the table, but you’re cheating yourself out of what should be the perfectly seasoned French fry. You ever see just how those fries are made? The fry cook takes the basket out of the fryer, gives the whole thing a few shakes to get rid of any excess oil, and then immediately applies the salt.

This is what you’re not getting. It’s an immediate application of salt. They have a giant shaker, like it has its own handle. And that salt they use, it’s not your average table salt. This stuff is super fine, it’s distributed evenly throughout the broad salt shaker opening, dispersing in a briny cloud, perfectly and evenly coating every inch of those fries.

And this is done as it’s being shaken. So you think about your fries, your super fresh, made-to-order fries. By the time you get them to wherever it is that you’re going to apply your own salt, those things have already cooled down. Sure, it’s only been a minute or two, tops, but that’s all it takes. You’re going to open up your salt packets and empty it on top. Guess what? Most of that salt is going to bounce off of the fries and land at the bottom of the bag. You need that ultra hot coating of right-out-of-the-fryer cooking oil. When that industrial salt shaker does its magic on the fries, immediately upon emerging from the cooker, the salt dissolves on contact with each piece. Plus you add the wrist-action, the up-and-down flicking of the basket, it’s like the salt becomes one with the potato, there’s not a spot that’s not perfectly seasoned.

I get this all the time at my restaurant also, “Let me get those fries with no salt.” And then I watch as their food comes out, they immediately grab the salt shaker, they’re shaking it up and down over each French fry, like, I wish I didn’t have to do this for each bite, but someone along the course of my life told me this trick about ordering fries with no salt, and even though it’s clearly an inferior way of ordering and eating fries, for whatever reason, I’ve never really examined what’s going on, I’m just blindly following ridiculous tips and tricks that I read about somewhere on the Internet.

Open your eyes. Heed my advice. You ask for no salt on the fries, you’re taking the fast out of fast food. What you gain in freshness and piping-hotness, you lose it deliciousness and I-can’t-stop-putting-these-in-my-mouthness. Plus, the McDonald’s worker is going to resent you for making him or her do extra work all because you don’t know how to order.

But won’t that mean that sometimes you won’t get super fresh fries? Yes, that’s just a reality that everyone has to deal with. That’s life, that’s fast food, OK, there’s a reason most of this stuff costs a dollar. Sometimes you get fresh fast food, other times it’s coming from the heat lamp. Trying to manipulate your way into a perfect McDonald’s experience every single time, it’s a recipe for frustration, you’re trying too hard to make it happen, you’re setting your standards way too high, and it’s unlikely that you’ll ever be pleased by anything in the long run.

Plus, you really shouldn’t be eating so many French fries. Hasn’t your doctor ever told you to cut back on the fried food? Come on man, do yourself a favor, next time you’re about to head out the door to McDonald’s, grab an apple, all right? Go have a yogurt and drink a glass of water.

Assert yourself. Get aggressive.

Sometimes you’ve got to really assert yourself, you’ve got to get really aggressive. Like when you’re on line at the post office, and it’s one of those lines that’s just snaking all the way around the poles, those fabric strips that come out of the poles, is there a name for those things? Line formers? Am I making myself clear here? They use them at airports. Like you’ll be waiting forever to give your passport to the ticket lady so she can take your baggage. But maneuvering around those line formers, with all of your suitcases, and your luggage. Is there a protocol? What’s the protocol? What’s the protocol for when you’re on one of those lines, it’s moving so slowly, and maybe you’re having some trouble getting your two rolling suitcases around the corner, and there’s a guy right behind you, he’s only got a carry-on, and so when you both round the corner, all of the sudden this guy’s standing not behind you, but next to you, and he’s creeping up. Now there’s another turn coming up. Does this guy think he’s going to weasel his way ahead? Just because he’s only got one small bag? And to be perfectly honest, the bag looks a little big, like he probably should be checking it in. And you know you’re going to get on the plane and of course this guy’s going to be sitting right in front of you, and his oversized carry-on, it’s going to take up way too much space in the overhead compartment.

But assert yourself. Get aggressive. At least passive aggressive. As you go to round that second corner, maybe try to block him with one of your rolling bags. Maybe knock over one of the line formers, try to make it look like he knocked it over, and when the airline representative comes over, she’s not saying anything yet, just kind of walking over as a result of the line former falling down, the fabric’s stretching, compromising the integrity of not just this pole, but potentially the entire zigzagged line. And right as she’s about to say something like, “What’s going on here?” you point to that guy, Mr. I’m-Such-A-Great-Packer-I-Don’t-Have-To-Respect-My-Fellow-Line-Waiters, and you say, “He did it.” Watch. That guy’s going to be taking a special trip to the TSA security office.

That guy’s in trouble. That guy might end up on some sort of a problem list. But what about all of these little kids? If you had little kids, you might think to yourself, this would be a lot easier. It might seem harder, having to navigate them plus your luggage plus your kids’ luggage. Think about it, kids are always knocking over those line formers. Or they’re pulling out the fabric. Or they’re jumping under the fabric, back and forth, knocking somebody else’s luggage into a line former, a TSA guy shows up, “I’m sorry sir, you’re going to have to come with us,” every mess these kids make, whoever they bump into, it’s like, “Did you just get knocked into by some kid? Yeah, you’re going to have to come with us.” And then finally after you’ve fended off the carry-on guy – you were very assertive! – you still can’t get your kids to sit still, to just stop running around and wait in line, please. So they stand quiet, for a minute, because you yelled at them, but every time they get to a new line former they silently unclip the fabric and it zips all the way back into the pole. And then you have to try to fix it. And that’s when the airline representative is going to turn on you. It’s unavoidable.

But wasn’t I talking about the post office? It’s all very similar, just no TSA. And I don’t know how your post office is laid out, but at mine there used to be this shortcut line, like if you were just picking up a package, you didn’t have to wait on the general line. But they’ve since done away with that, and now everybody waits. So you’ll be waiting for ten, fifteen, forty-five minutes when you see somebody just head right over to the last window, like pretending that they didn’t know the express line has since been eliminated, and nobody’s saying anything, not a clerk, no other line waiters.

You’ve got to get aggressive. You’ve got to assert yourself into the situation, tell that guy, “Listen buddy, back of the line, all right?” to which he might just kind of look at you, not responding but thinking to himself, “Why don’t you just mind your own business, all right?” So then you repeat yourself. And maybe there’s a postal police officer there, it doesn’t always happen, but they make rounds to the branches every now and then, and he might come over and be like, “What’s the problem?” so you can say something like, “No, I was just asking this guy where he gets his fireworks shipped in from,” and the postal police guy won’t even say anything, he’ll just look at the line cutter and point to that door in the corner, like let’s go have a little chat in that office over there, OK?